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NGI Recipient: Fred Dean

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2019)

I arrived at the CDSS American Week at Pinewoods knowing that I would spend a week in two of my most favorite environments; dance communities and the great outdoors. I had heard of the magical environs that made camp what it was, but I was in for a delight and a renewed sense of awe when I found how the campers came together with and for each other in dancing and in community.

On the first night, a medical emergency took place leading to emergency attention and hospitalization. I was present as this unfolded, knowing later, that this emergency involved a member of my home dance community. I was concerned about how this would all unfold, and seeing the mutual concern throughout the community as the emotional impact rippled throughout camp. This concern, along with the community who had training to attend to this need, showed me the deep bonds we form as dancers. The delight came as we learned that the immediate medical assistance saved my friend’s life, and we all could breathe a little easier and dance a little lighter.

Through song in both the solfege session and as part of the programming, I found a thread that helped connect the community forming and evolving at camp with friends and family back home. As I felt people come together, from all our walks of life, I realized how integral community was to my experience at camp, and also in the rest of my life. Dancing nurtures that as we hold hands and circle, gather and move and progress and gain connection to music and each other. The smiles and the music embraced me from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. The laughter and the conversation over dinner opened me to all that CDSS offers.

The NGI scholarship made it possible for me to connect with other dance organizers as I stretched myself in imagining the possibilities for strong and vibrant dance and song communities. The dance workshops, particularly the waltz and blues, opened me to trust the process of learning and sharing what movement can bring one person. This learning would carry me into a place of growing as a person and as a community member. With new friends, I discovered new foods, strengthened my skill as a dancer, and learned more as a musician. Pinewoods opened my life to the days beyond, and it has brought me new awareness of how to share this experience with others.