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NGI Recipient: Jordan Diamond

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2017)

When I embarked on the long drive to Pinewoods Camp to attend CDSS American Week, I had no idea that I was about to enter a most magical place that would alter my reality and bring me a fully renewed spirit. I now find myself gushing about Pinewoods and CDSS to all who have ears, searching for the right way to describe this place in the woods of Massachussetts where whimsical melodies waft in the breeze, feet never stop dancing, and every person is instantly a new best friend.

From the moment I arrived, I was swept off my feet by the generous hearts and talent of the people at Pinewoods. I drove into the gates right at 6:30, and was taken under the wing of a kind greeter who showed me the ropes of camp. My cabin mate had been looking for me all day, asking everyone she met if they had met me. By the time I arrived at the evening dance, it was as though everyone had been waiting for me, and I was greeted with hugs and excitement from everyone I met all the way down the dance line. That was only the beginning, a launchpad for the instant community that I found Pinewoods to be.

I have been dancing in some form ever since I could walk. When I found contra dancing, it felt like I had found my soulmate of dancing. CDSS American Week showed me that contra dancing is just the gateway to an entire world of dance to explore. In the span of a week, I learned folk dances from Europe and Scandinavia, basic steps of flatfooting, and classic “Chestnuts.” I also gained a new appreciation for square dancing, took a gander at my first English Country Dance, and gained renewed confidence and passion as a musician and singer. As the week wore on, I found myself repeatedly wondering how I would be able to carry the momentum with me back home. I am fortunate to live in a place where there is a thriving dance community, and there is growing movement to revive squares, Chestnuts, waltzes, and other forms of dance traditions. Because of my experience at American Week, I hope to create space in my life to join this movement and dance revival.

It is because of the NGI Scholarship made possible by CDSS and Pinewoods Camp that I was able to attend this life changing week. I am deeply grateful to have been given this opportunity and look forward to finding my way back to Pinewoods in the future. Many, many thanks to everyone who makes this scholarship and CDSS camps possible!