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NGI Recipient: Thomas Iwasawa

Session Attended: Royal Scottish Country Dance Society - Scottish Session II (2014)

I received an NGI scholarship this year for the Scottish Session II, through the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

Arriving at Pinewoods for the first time felt oddly familiar. I had never been to Pinewoods before this year, but I had heard of it for a long time, as my parents had been regular attendees in years past. Places like the Long Pond dock and Pinecones became familiar landmarks instead of distant stories, and I met dancers my parents had first met decades ago. I also met many people with whom I shared no prior connection but a love of dancing, and they welcomed me no less warmly. By the end of the week, Pinewoods felt like home.

Dancing at Pinewoods was exhausting but exhilarating. The technique classes pushed me to limit of my ability and endurance, but the teachers were excellent and pressed me to dance better than I had ever done before. My muscles began to ache by midmorning each day, and by the end of each evening I could barely manage the final waltz, but I never wanted to stop. The driving music and the sheer joy of dancing carried me through all the way to the end of the week.

I was so caught up in the dancing that it wasn’t until halfway through the week that I realized how relaxing Pinewoods can be. I stayed up all night watching the ceilidh wind down into quiet conversation, and then went out on the pier to see a rosy glow spill over the water. That moment made me realize that Pinewoods isn’t just the people, the music, and the dancing – it’s also the place itself.

Thank you for supporting me with a scholarship to attend the second Scottish session this year. It was a stunning experience, and I hope to return every year that I am able.