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NGI Recipient: Tony Zhou

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - FAC Weekend (2018)

It was a unique opportunity and an epic turn of events to come to know the community of Folk Arts Center of New England (FAC).

I am a graduate student at Harvard University in Applied Physics, and a member of Harvard’s World Music Ensemble. I had been playing early music for a few years and was introduced to the Early Music week at Pinewoods. As a legit argument that Balkan folk music was concurring along with the Renaissance music, a prominent recorder teacher was invited to teach a workshop on Balkan music there. I was randomly assigned to the workshop and had been greatly inspired by the fun that folk music energizes in the air. This instant gravitation toward folk music led to a phone call between Marcie and me to regularly play with some of the best folk musicians. Quickly, I discovered that the dance and music are closely interconnected in the most natural way like birds fly in sky and pope belongs to catholic church. The apex of excitement and harmony happens when people are dancing, singing, and playing music. To be in every part of it, FAC and Pinewoods generously awarded me a scholarship to participate in their Pinewoods camp weekend. This helped me to learn the dance and further connect my music to the essence of folk music and dance. I enormously appreciate this scholarship and opportunity!

At the camp, it was incredibly touching to see people and myself dance in music that I had been playing in the past year led by Patrick Yacono and Julia Poirer with other members. The enjoyment in dance and music are among some of the most common experiences in human history. These dances and music originate from all different cultures and nations. It’s one of the greatest joys to see the variety of dances and listen to the music of all styles and ethnicities. The folk dance has a unique way of connecting people that a lot of other dances don’t. It was about dancing with a community through holding hands and crossing arms, pacing steps and stomping feet at the beat of music. I was also moved by seeing avid dancers continuously coming to the same camp year after year and bringing together generation after generation. It’s the music and dance to interconnect us and strike the chord with a heartbeat. And there you go again the music begins and people circle in!