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NGI Recipient: Dan Faiella

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - English & American Week (2014)

I am writing to express how grateful I am to have been able to come to Pinewoods on the NGI scholarship this year. It was so generous of CDSS provide this opportunity for me. The dance community at Pinewoods made me comfortable and welcome and helped me as I learned more about the ins and outs of contra dancing and was introduced to English Country Dancing for the first time. I have a typical shy musician personality, which had to be left at the gate when we got to Pinewoods. On the dance floor callers like Connie Carringer and David Millstone helped me with their advice and occasional gentle pushes when I wound up in odd places during a dance. Dancing with different people all week and getting to know a new community of people was a great experience for me, and I know it will help me understand contra dancing more deeply as I play for dances in the future.

I had grown up going to family dances and a couple of years ago began contra dancing again, but I never had a dance experience as intensive as Pinewoods. We danced from sunup to sundown in the dance pavilion to an exciting blend of New England and Quebecois music. Dancing to the music of Owen Morrison, Jeremiah McLane, and David Boulanger, I got to understand much better the ebb and flow of energy in a good contra dance, as well as the interaction that the musicians have with the dancers, and the dancers have with each other. There’s a momentum which carries you from one part of the dance to the next, and I found that the whole week had a similar momentum, from dance to dance and from day to day. Even though I was expending a lot of energy dancing, I got back as much as I put in from the community of dancers.

When we got back home I looked back over the week that had just passed and wondered how I had managed to dance straight through the week. Some things don’t make sense from the outside; you have to experience them to understand them. Traditional song and dance are social, and they can’t be understood apart from the people and the place. I am really glad that there is a community like Pinewoods that maintains this tradition of dancing together, and I look forward to seeing the friends I met there again at dances down the road.