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NGI Recipient: Ashley Nunez

Session Attended: Royal Scottish Country Dance Society - Scottish Session II (2013)

My first introduction to Scottish Country Dancing was during my semester abroad in Scotland. I went to a session and completely fell in love with the dance, the music, the interactions, and just everything about it! I went to a few more workshops when I was in Scotland, and when I was planning on coming back home to the US I was so disappointed that I would not be able to dance again. Little did I know that there was a huge SCD following in the US!

I heard about Pinewoods through my fiddle teacher. She went to Pinewoods for an American Folk session last year and knew that I was interested in folk music and all aspects of what Pinewoods represents so suggested that I check it out. I went on the website and fell in love! I knew that I had to go, and then when I saw the Scottish sessions my excitement was rekindled for the dancing I had experienced in Scotland. Luckily I was able to receive the NGI scholarship because without it, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to go to Pinewoods at all.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Scottish Session 2, but I knew that I loved the dance, the music, and all aspects of things to do with Scotland so I figured I couldn’t have a bad experience. Everything was a flurry of activity when I arrived; new meetings and figuring out where things were. It was a bit overwhelming but everyone was so amazingly kind and helpful that I got around no problem. My cabin-mate helped show me the ropes and told me what’s-what about Pinewoods. I was kind of dreading the evening dance because the last time I danced was over seven months prior when I was introduced! I didn’t really think to expect the quality of dancers that I was introduced to. But, once I was pulled up on the floor for the first dance, I just looked into my partner’s eyes, smiled, and everyone helped me through the dances with ease.

The rest of the week was full of new experiences with dancing: learning new steps and moves, learning terminology, brushing up on things I already learned, and having a completely immersive experience. I am not the most outgoing person around people I have never met before, but all the people that I met at Pinewoods were so encouraging and helpful and inclusive that I never felt like I was being pushed aside because I was the newbie.

Through the whole experience, I met some amazingly talented dancers and musicians, and got to experience something unbelievable. There were definitely times that I felt overwhelmed and like I was in over my head, but I would not trade the week I had at Pinewoods for anything. I know that I will continue on with Scottish Country Dancing and return to Pinewoods one day, but I think I need to get some more experience under my belt first.

Thank you again for the great experience, and opportunity to reconnect with the cultural aspects of Scotland that I have been missing!