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NGI Recipient: Catherine Stark

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - English & American Week (2011)

Dear CDSS and Pinewoods Camp Inc:

Thank you so much for supporting the NGI Youth Scholarship. It provided me with the means for such an excellent experience during English and American week. I have been to Pinewoods weekends in the past; however, weekends simply do not compare to the week experience. Rather than the frenzied cramming to fit both socializing and learning in a single weekend, E&A week provided the perfect balance between relaxation, friendship, and learning.

The classes were an invaluable experience. The only problem I had was choosing which classes to partake in! Going out on a limb, I started the day with a harmony singing class. As a reluctant singer in general, it was a new yet invigorating experience to be a part of a group preparing arranged pieces. A Cotswold morris class set to English Country tunes taught me both the basics of “hanky” dancing and how to innovate and merge traditions. Intro to Appalachian clogging was an intense experience that demanded concentration and practice outside of class time. The culminating performances of each of these classes was a challenge within itself yet also served to cement my newfound knowledge.

Participating in the rapper class was also rewarding in its own way. Though I have danced on a side for three years now, I still learned a lot during this beginner’s class about some of the more subtle aspects of the tradition.

The evening dances were full of energy; excellent musicians contributed to many memorable nights. The quality of dancing and the general level of enthusiasm were very high. Coming from a small village with relatively few dancing opportunities it is always a treat to be able to dance with people who are not only excited to dance but talented!

I hope to take the knowledge of what I have learned and apply it through many different aspects of my life. My quality of shower singing has drastically improved. Kidding aside, the skills I learned throughout the week will be invaluable throughout all the different aspects of dancing that I do. I look forward to pursuing clogging and morris in the future. English Country dancing has given me a better sense of graceful movement that will apply to everyday life as well!

English American Week at Pinewoods was an amazing experience that was not only full of learning, but camaraderie in the face of Hurricane Irene. I hope to take the skills I have learned from the diverse classes I participated and use them to teach others in the future, not only about dancing, but teamwork and cooperation.

Thank you so much for a wonderful opportunity.