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NGI Recipient: Vera Shipunova

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - Labor Day Weekend (2014)

This is my letter of great thanks you to you for the scholarship to Labor Day Weekend.

I was very eager to go to this session, since I already know how much joy it is to be present at a Pinewoods session. I also knew that my friends were going to be there, and that there was a very good selection of callers and musicians. If I was to go, I would be able to see many people that I enjoy spending time with, and to widen the range of music I sing and play.

I participate in many musical activities and organizations, and constantly try to bring more children and teens into the musical world. I work with the Cape Cod Children’s Chorus as a director’s assistant, and I also bring many of my friends and acquaintances to contra and folk dances on Cape Cod. I had convinced a number of people that Pinewoods is a very good way to spend the Labor Day weekend, and at least 3 of the people turning up at the session were there on my word – of which I am still very proud.

I came to know the contra dance community when I had just moved here, in the winter of 2009. I moved here from Russia, aged 11, and did not know of any dance or song style of this sort (except from the Jane Austen novels).

At Labor Day weekend I attended international dance classes with Marcie Van Cleave and several contra and English dances. I went to the singing of favorite songs from musicals, the name of which I seem to be incapable of remembering, also singing from “The Sound Of Music”. These classes help a lot in my general use of musical skills, since they improve understanding of rhythm, sight-reading and sound quality by repeating music, moving to specific tempos and providing something which allows you to enjoy the learning experience.

Two friends that went with me attended the same classes, which helped me improve my leadership skills. I assisted them with learning basics in contra dancing, and they had a great time at Pinewoods and are planning on coming back next year.

It was quite a heartwarming experience to see a bunch of people sitting together, listening to music and singing along the words that they’ve heard their whole lives. There were people of all ages, all singing together, listening and laughing.

This scholarship has helped me greatly in many ways, and I am very grateful to you for providing me the opportunity.