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NGI Recipient: Anna Tsykalova

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - First Weekend (Swing into Summer) (2013)

Anna Tsykalova

Walking into camp at Pinewoods for the first time felt like walking back into some of the happiest memories of my childhood. I felt a joyful calmness, a sense that life is simple and beautiful, and that all you really need is sunshine, a song to sing or dance to, and a friend to share it with.

One of my favorite moments of Swing Into Summer was learning to play the ukulele in Max Newman’s workshop. I loved being able to play and sing at the same time, which isn’t easy to do on my main instrument (flute). It was also wonderful watching the choreography come together with everyone’s contributions right before the camp gathering on Sunday. I still giggle whenever I think of the song we played: “I likes to go bowling with my friend Boyt, with my bowling ball and my bowling shoyt…”

Another highlight was jumping in the pond at midnight, swimming to the dock, and singing rounds with my fellow campers under the stars. When we got too cold, we swam back and joined a lovely impromptu blues dance in the Camphouse. Scenes like this, full of energy and camaraderie, repeated themselves throughout camp.

I was glad to have an opportunity to give back to the community, too, by teaching a workshop about contradance flourishes. Watching the dancers’ faces light up as they learned new figures made me want to try my hand at teaching and organizing future workshops.

The joy of Pinewoods was made even better by the lovely surprise of finding out I could attend just a week before. I am truly grateful to the NGI committee for their generosity, Max Newman for supporting me in my application, Sarah Pilzer for being my mentor, and all of the campers and staff at Pinewoods who made it such a wonderful weekend. I hope to be back singing and dancing with you all soon.