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NGI Recipient: Theresa Werth

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - FAC Weekend (2008)

Being a dancer and part of a dance community is something that has been with me my entire life. I am from Illinois and in my hometown I found my way into a community of dancers that quickly became a family in and of themselves. I grew up around them, learned from them and taught them, performed with them, laughed and cried with them. We were fulfilled by each other because of a common interest and commitment to each other. Being a part of this group quickly began to define an aspect of who I am.

When my life led me to Boston I found that I was very disappointed in the dance opportunities I was finding. Many of the classes were filled with people too wrapped up in their own image as dancers to be present and enjoy the experience of dancing and dancing with others which I had begun to crave again. The teachers were good teachers but they did not transcend into being sisters, friends, mentors, and compatriots! I was beginning to lose hope!

I began my life in folk dancing on a whim. I was cooped up in my office surfing the internet looking for something to come around that would give me a bit of what I was looking for when I found a little ad for beginner international folk dance at the Arlington Center for Adult Education. I thought “I can do that!” What better way to get my dancing shoes on AND feel like people were there to dance together than with folk dancing! For years, generations, these dances had been bringing people together. Why not me?!?

I was not disappointed. The first day we were laughing and chatting. We stepped and stomped and slid and swung together! Sometimes we got it just right and we were proud of ourselves and each other for doing a beautiful job. Other times we got completely messed up and couldn’t stop laughing about that! I was immediately hooked. When I was offered the opportunity to attend Pinewoods on scholarship I had to stop myself from tackling Marcie with excitement.

When I finally got to Pinewoods with my friend Pamela I couldn’t believe my luck at being able to spend a beautiful few days among the trees and lakes eating terrific food, dancing and singing, sleeping in the woods (my favorite!). The people we were meeting had been coming to Pinewoods for 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Their grandmothers and children were there. The people around them were their friends in dance and they loved each other for loving this beautiful experience with them. It was a little overwhelming at first! But soon we began meeting people and feeling more welcome by the minute.

And then the dancing started…The first night’s dance was a whirlwind of activity. Being new I had a LOT of learning to do which was just fine by me! I must have learned 50 dances in those 3 days! From cheery circle dances to stately promenades to couple dances where I just held on tight and hoped I made it to the last step, we danced the night away.

The next day our classes started. The Norwegian class reminded me that what sounds like the simplest step if often the hardest and then the most satisfying to master! It helped to have an extremely talented live fiddler to carry the tune! Our Romanian classes were my personal favorite. The dances were lively, silly and had plenty of room for personal flair! We got to be reminded that in the villages no one is looking to see if you are on the right foot (unless you’re stepping on their foot) because they are having too much fun! I am someone who is struggling between gaining new adult experiences and hanging onto those things from youth that are worth keeping. Right now it’s especially good to remember that the important thing is not to do things perfectly but to do them with your whole heart and to do what feels right for YOU.

I am so happy that I could be a part of the Pinewoods experience this year. I feel as though I am becoming a part of the dance community in the area and that is very special to me. Thank you to all of those who played a role in providing me this experience. It was truly an honor and something I will never forget.