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NGI Recipient: Katya Shipunova

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - Labor Day Weekend (2015)

When I returned from Pinewoods, people asked me how I spent my Labor Day weekend. As a math major I have heard a lot of tough questions, but this one is probably the hardest. How can I describe it to them?

No pictures would show what I so clearly see in my head even now: quiet blue water in the frame of green foliage; people resting on the end of the dock in dazzling sunshine; the “fairy house” with tiny door and stairs on the brick wall, amidst the growing ivy; and tall pine trees shooting from a carpet of pine needles all the way to the sun. No recording could capture the footsteps of dancing people that could be heard all the way across the camp, or a lonely violin accompanied by the laughter of so many happy and contented people. And there is no media yet that could accurately describe the sense of swinging in a pretty skirt, the feel of warm pond water on your skin after the contra dance, or the giggly warm feeling when you are surrounded by friends.

If they simply asked me what I had accomplished, I would proudly say “So much!” And I would tell them how I danced dances that I always thought were too hard for me, and talked to everyone without being too shy, and made a flower crown which got The Best Hat prize. I would also tell them that I managed to dance in Santa attire for a whole evening, and to swim a pretty good distance while keeping my homework dry in one hand above the water.

If they asked about dances or music, I could tell them about the funniest caller ever, Marcie Van Cleave, and her beautiful folk songs with sorrowful melodies yet joyful lyrics. I could talk about the graceful English dances which always make me anticipate Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy coming from around the corner. And I could show them by bringing them to my favorite contra dances. It is a paradox how something so tiring as contra dance can give one so much energy.

Instead I just say, “I went to a dance camp. I danced and I swam, and I was so happy, that now I don’t know very well how to be so here.” They shrug their shoulders and move on, apparently contented with that answer. Perhaps someday they will know …

Thank you for the scholarship that allowed me to attend such a wonderful event in this beautiful place. I can’t wait to come back.