«Back to all NGI Letters

NGI Recipient: Petra Laohakul

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - ESCape (English-Scottish-Contra) (2018)

My first Pinewoods was everything that everyone who goes says about it: amazing, restorative, magical. I am so thankful to the NGI and CDS-Boston Grants Committees for giving me the opportunity to experience Pinewoods and attend this year’s ESC session.

As an avid Contra, English, and Morris dancer, I lived in bliss for the week, celebrating music, dance, and community under the C# pavilion every night and learning new dances with the best teachers every morning and afternoon. I even got to learn Scottish, a dance tradition completely novel to me! And I felt great pride during the nightly dances when I kept up during the Scottish session, as well as plenty of gratitude to my fellow Scottish dancers who supported me. I could not have had a better introduction to Scottish dancing with the afternoon skills session and welcoming dancers.

Another highlight of the week was the beautiful Abbots Bromley, which became a personal symbol of Pinewoods. I will never forget the fireflies ushering out the creature-dancers and the fading sound of the haunting tune. At that moment, the magic of Pinewoods was palpable and invigorated my own dancing and being for the rest of the too-short week. I felt and continue to feel inspired to connect more fully with my fellow folk. Fortunately, too, Pinewoods made it easy to accomplish that – the deliciously nourishing meals, after-dance gatherings, between-dance hangouts – the thoughtful program and the gorgeous camp grounds granted the time and space to forge new acquaintances and deepen old friendships.

I am grateful to belong to our special community of dancers and musicians, many of whom I get to see only once or twice a year. It was so nice to be able to experience that community in an almost fantastical setting. I hope to return to Pinewoods again this summer and meet more of my friends and friends-to-be! Thank you to the NGI Grants Committee, once again, for selecting me to attend ESC!