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NGI Recipient: Ariel Weinberg

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - Labor Day Weekend (2009)

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend the Labor Day Weekend session at Pinewoods this summer! I had a wonderful time exploring forms of dance and music both familiar and unfamiliar and forging new and stronger connections with members of the dance and music communities.

I had previously been aware of Pinewoods, but I had the impression it was for people who were more involved than me, better dancers, and better musicians. Paula and Marcie’s encouragement during the NGI application process reassured me that I wouldn’t be totally out of place, and the encouragement I received from other campers and their enthusiasm to assist a first-timer, from making sure I could find my cabin at night to pointing out the dining hall procedures, made me feel a welcomed part of the community.

One night at dinner, the woman who had been standing next to me in a singing workshop that morning announced that I was her new best friend. The whole weekend was all about finding a hundred-plus new best friends, from my cabin mate to the totally different groups of equally fascinating people at each meal to new favorite dance partners to new mentors in music and dance. Since returning, I have re-encountered fellow campers at contras and international dances with the sense that they are now old friends.

The Labor Day Weekend program not only promoted community among individuals, but among dance styles. Many people identified most strongly with a particular style of dance or music, but attended the workshops for other styles and joined in everything at the evening dances. I started the days with international music and singing workshops, moved on to playing early music with an ad hoc recorder ensemble, and then danced contra and English and international in the evenings. I learned from the workshop leaders and from other campers, whispering hints to others through a circle dance and then having them show me how to do English figures, nudging someone back into line in one dance and being nudged myself on (many) others.

In addition to the intellectual and artistic thrills of music and dance and learning, Labor Day Weekend was a beautiful New England end-of-summer experience, with the chilly but swimmable water and the golden sunset through the pine trees. I am extremely grateful to the Pinewoods NGI scholarship and the sponsoring user groups for making it possible for me to attend this session.