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NGI Recipient: Kathleen Scherger

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - English & American Week (2009)

Thanks to the New Generation Initiative scholarship, I was able to attend Pinewoods for the first time during CDSS’s English and American Week, August 8-15, 2009. I am extremely proud and grateful to have received this opportunity, and I hope that my story will inspire others to make camp attendance possible for even more young people.

My first passion is for ECD and I happily attended the advanced session each morning. As the week progressed I found myself also participating in the “English for All” session which was similarly pleasant. However, because I came to Pinewoods on scholarship, I thought I should specifically participate in daytime classes that would push me beyond my established comfort zones and proficiencies.

To this end I attended Ellie Grace’s “Appalachian Clogging” session on Sunday and promptly fell in love. I had never seen Appalachian clogging before but the combination of high energy and loose upper body movement that really spoke to me. Unfortunately it turned out that my right foot is not quite healed enough yet to allow for percussive dance so I could not continue in that class for the rest of the week (I attended “English for All” instead), but I know I’ll be looking for classes as soon as that foot is in better condition.

Another way in which I stretched myself was in attending Peter Barnes’ session “The Art of The Ensemble.” I have been playing classical piano nearly all my life but always as a solo performer. I have long wanted to participate in my local dance community as a pianist but had no idea how to begin learning to play well with others. Not only did I get to learn and observe the basics of country dance accompaniment I even got the chance to play along once or twice. Peter’s session inspired me to stop being so shy and just contribute with the knowledge that dancers will love the music if I love what I’m doing.

Finally, I chose to sing in the “Madrigals” session led by Eden MacAdam Somer. This session showed me just how out of practice my ear is and taught me that I’ve got a range more suited to tenor than soprano. I hadn’t sung in a group since church choir when I was 8, and it was a truly moving experience to create something so beautiful in concert with others.

Apart from the daytime classes and the evening dances, in which I observed and learned more styling and leading techniques, my week at Pinewoods was filled with little by-the-way moments of group singing, jam sessions and pick-up dancing that combined to create a beautiful break from everyday life. Many thanks to the New Generation Initiative and the generous folks who make it possible.