The portal contains a vast range of resources by and for the dance, music, and song community. From expert tips from fellow organizers and callers, to databases of dances and songs, find what you need to help engage with the traditions you love!

Resources added before 2022 do not all have explicit permission from the authors. If your resource is in the portal and you’d like it removed, please email us.

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Tip: Selecting multiple checkboxes will give you more specific results. For example, to see specific resources for contra dance callers, select both Callers and Contra Dance.

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283 Results

Building Cultural Equity in Communities

October 25, 2022

An online discussion to support organizers of dance, music, and song groups

This Web Chat provided firsthand experiences from organizers who have used CDSS grants to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for their groups. We heard about ways they have been applying what they’ve learned from these valuable workshops, and what’s next for their groups. We also included plenty of time for Q&A. Our special guests were:

  • Cindy Culbert and Rich Dempsey: Country Dancers of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
  • Janet Yeracaris and Vince O’Donnell: New England Folk Festival Association (New England region)
  • Lauren Keeley: DanceFlurry Organization (Albany, NY)

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Web Chats

Topics: Equity

Groups That Have Resumed In-person Events

Is your group considering or preparing for reentry? If so, this new resource is designed especially for YOU! At a glance you can peruse each group’s basic information. If you see one you’re interested in, click anywhere on the entry to read more about their firsthand experiences.

Read More

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Accessibility, Community Safety, Pandemic

Ideas for Weathering the Winter Together

During the CDSS Web Chat on November 1, 2021, participants brainstormed ideas for keeping their music, dance, and song groups engaged and connected through the coming months. See below for a compilation of their suggestions for organizers to try out with their communities. We’re happy to continue adding to this list, so please send your thoughts to resources@cdss.org. All ideas welcome!

Read More

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Accessibility, Community Safety, Pandemic

Reentry Resources for Organizers

Introduction

One key question that keeps cropping up as we prepare for restarting in-person activities is: How will we know when the time is right? All music, dance, and song groups need to chart their own course based on their location, state and local public health guidance, type of event, and community needs. We hope the following set of resources will help organizers navigate the myriad decisions involved with safely resuming in-person events.

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Resources

Topics: Accessibility, Community Safety, Pandemic

CDSS Community Culture & Safety Toolkit

The CDSS Community Culture and Safety Task Group (CCSTG) aims to support local communities in their efforts to provide a safe environment for music, song, and dance events. We are working to provide advice and resources that will help organizers develop the policies, procedures, and supporting documents needed to understand and facilitate safety in their communities.

CDSS is not prescriptive in regard to what your community ‘should be doing.’ We recognize and value the range of living traditions practiced by our communities.

As such, we are working to develop a toolkit of resources.

Read More

Categories: Callers, Educators, Musicians, Organizers

Sharing the Vision: Themes and Practical Ideas for Vibrant Dance Communities

A pithy article from Max Newman on the importance of a vision, how to create one and how to share it.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Lissa Schneckenburger’s Tune A Week

Sign up to get a free tune delivered to your inbox every week, and join a group practice challenge.

Categories: Musicians, Novices

Topics: Repertoire

Square Dance History with David Millstone

Experience the rich history and regional variety of square dancing in this in-depth, three part video series.

With photographs, audio, and video, we’ll travel:

  • from 17th century France to Civil War ballrooms
  • from New England Grange halls to Texas cowboy balls
  • and from Newfoundland to New Mexico

to explore and discuss how this dance form became a staple of American popular culture.

Categories: Square Dance

Topics: History

Shared Weight: Positional Calling Discussion List

This list is for anyone interested in exploring positional calling within traditional dance (contra, squares, ECD, community, family dance, Irish ceili, Scottish ceilidh, etc). 

Our goal is to support each other by discussing topics of interest to callers specifically in relation to positional calling. We encourage callers to also join some of the other Shared Weight lists as those communities are valuable resources for other aspects of calling.

Categories: Callers, Dance Tradition, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Discussion, Equity, Non-Gendered

Shared Weight: Growing Up Trad Discussion List

Growing up Trad! is an email discussion list for caregiving adults who love traditional dance, music and song.  The focus of our conversation is around nurturing these traditions within our families and in particular with the children in our care.

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Families

Topics: Discussion

Shared Weight: Dance Organizers Discussion List

This mailing list welcomes organizers and those interested in organizing any form of traditional social dance.  This includes contra, English country, traditional squares (e.g., Appalachian, New England, Quebecois, Cape Breton, etc), community/family/barn, ceili, Balfolk, and more!

Categories: Dance Tradition, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Discussion

Fostering Intergenerational Community

These notes from a session at Youth Traditional Song Weekend 2015 list ways participants promote age inclusivity in their own communities.

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Equity

New Old Songs: Writing Within the Tradition

Alex Sturbaum shares tips for writing new songs within folk traditions and touches on writing with less-often-mentioned themes in mind.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Singers

Topics: Composing, Equity

Addressing Racism as a Dance Community

In this short overview, the organizers of Portland Intown Contra Dance acknowledge and explain some of the various Black and African influences on American folk dance traditions.

From the Portland Intown Contra Dance

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Equity

Dinah, Put Down Your Horn: Blackface Minstrel Songs Don’t Belong in Music Class

In this article, the author puts forward the need to remove racist songs from school music programs and discusses a number of songs with racist messaging.

From Dr. Katya Ermolaeva

Categories: Educators

Topics: Equity

Anti-Racism and the Folk Revival

This article focuses on racism within our traditions, in particular relating to the work of Cecil Sharp and his contemporaries, and on how our history informs our present and should influence our future. 

From Ezra Fisher

Categories: Contra Dance, Early American Dance, Square Dance

Topics: Equity, History

Dance Weekend 101: Streamlining the organization of weekend dance events

Ever thought of organizing a dance weekend? Come explore the ins and outs of what it takes to streamline a successful event.

From Adam Broome & Jaige Trudel
Puttin’ On The Dance 2015

Categories: Organizers

The Ins and Outs of Cooking for Dancers

An article by Sarah Pilzer with great advice for weekends and camps about cooking for dancers!

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Putting on “Techno” Contra Dances

This article from Will Loving, with a note from Sue Songer around copyright issues, describes the details of putting on a techno contra including lighting and equipment recommendations.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Contra Dance, Organizers

Topics: Techno

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 7: Singing Together Safely

May 3, 2022

An online discussion to support organizers of song groups

Two organizers offered firsthand experiences about keeping their song groups alive and well through the pandemic by hosting in-person and online singing events. Our third guest provided the latest COVID-19 news from her public health perspective, with suggestions especially pertinent for song group organizers. Q&A with all three guests included:

  • Janice Hanson from Golden Link Folk Singing Society in Rochester, NY
  • Steve Deering from Vancouver Folk Song Society in Vancouver, BC
  • Dr. Kimbi Hagen, public health professor from Atlanta, GA

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Singers, Web Chats

Finding a Hall

This resource provides a number of tips and considerations when looking for a new space to hold a dance or music event.

From CDSS

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Sample Budget Sheets

These downloadable Excel sheets are a great start for a sample dance budget and also for reporting income/expenses from a single event.

From Leda Shapiro Southwest Regional Organizers Conference 2014

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Finance

Fundraising Strategies and Tips for Dance Organizations: Broadening our views for supporting dances

Looking to raise funds for your dance? These workshop notes take a broad view on fundraising to support your dance series, support the hall where you dance, run special events or programming, purchase equipment, or support other causes and affiliated organizations. Includes an overview of philanthropy and fundraising strategies at the macro level, and then share how one local organization raised more than $60,000. 

From Rima Dael, Patty Giavara, and Nancy Turner
Puttin’ On The Dance 2015

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Finance

Nontraditional Funding and Focused Mentorship: How We’re Growing a New (Awesome) Contra Dance Community in Portland, ME

This article by Dela Murphy provides some great insight into how one dance community effectively ran a fundraising campaign for their series.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Finance

Downloadable Excel Spreadsheets

Sample spreadsheets to help organizers create a budget for their dance series, weekend, or tour!

From Erik Erhardt, Ron Nieman, and Glenn Manuel, Southwest Regional Organizers Conference 2014

Categories: Organizers

Non-Profit Management: Updating and strengthening our administrative foundation

Non-profit governance and administrative systems require routine updating as organizations evolve. This workshop is designed to help organizers of any committee—old or new—strengthen their administrative platform. Topics include: the pluses and minuses of incorporating and registering as a non-profit; the steps that a group must take to incorporate and/or register as a non-profit; and the roles that bylaws and articles of incorporation play to define the organization’s purpose and how the organization is governed. This workshop will be particularly helpful to groups that are not formalized as incorporated non-profits who are thinking about taking these steps, or for members of formalized committees who want to better understand governance systems. We’ll share some decisions that were addressed at our dances to generate discussion, clarify how CDSS is prepared to assist, and open up the floor to any governance/administrative issues that you might be tackling in your own dance community.

From Catherine Burns, Rima Dael, & Nancy Turner, Puttin’ On The Dance 2015

Categories: Organizers

Creating a Happy, Healthy Volunteer Base: Ways to engage and retain volunteers to sustain our dances

Volunteers are crucial to the healthy sustainability of our dances, as much to build community as to get the job done. These workshop notes talk about the importance of volunteers, different kinds of volunteers, recruitment, engagement and retention. We’ll also work to address some specific volunteer challenges, useful whether you’re a committee of one or part of a large organizing team.

from Tara Bolker & Maxine Louie, Puttin’ On The Dance 2015

Categories: Organizers

Some Ideas on Governance

This article by, Tom Siess, including a follow up by Bruce Hamilton explores the role of a board as well as ideas regarding good governance.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

How to Structure Your Organization

This two page document provides some basic considerations on how to structure your organization

From CDSS

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Starring Your Recorder

Starring Your Recorder is a free educational video series from GEMS NY. The recorder has been an important instrument worldwide for hundreds of years. It has often been played along with other beautiful instruments that are still played today. With these six videos, students can experience playing easy tunes on recorder accompanied by a Renaissance band.

From Gotham Early Music Scene, Inc.

Categories: Educators, Musicians

Topics: Early Music

Doing Sound

This resource outlines some basic considerations for doing sound at a dance event.

From CDSS

Categories: Audience

Topics: Sound Engineering, Starting Up

All Mixed Up: A Guide to Sound Production for Folk and Dance Music

All Mixed Up is a comprehensive guide to doing sound for both traditional dance and folk music events. Bob’s guide covers a wide range of topics that are useful to both beginner and experienced sound technicians. The printed version of All Mixed Up is available for sale through CDSS’s online store.

From Bob Mills

Categories: Audience

Topics: Sound Engineering

Shared Weight: TradSound

TradSound is a listserv (email group) that exists to share information, experiences, techniques about people using intelligence, acoustics and audio equipment to optimally reinforce voices and instruments at community trad music events including dances, concerts and festivals. Most of our group members are audio techs, though we also welcome interested musicians, singers, callers, organizers, dancers and listeners. TradSound is a great way to talk to those passionate about sound at trad events. Join the discussion! Special Note: As a member of the group, you can also search the extensive list archives.

Categories: Audience

Topics: Discussion, Sound Engineering

BIDA Musician Booking

In this post, Jeff explores some of his thinking behind musician booking for the BIDA dance series. Community discussion follows.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Organizers

Performer Info Sheet

Example of a performer info sheet that can be sent to people hired for a dance to clarify any confusion beforehand!

From Nancy Turner, Queen City Contra, Puttin’ On The Dance, 2011

Categories: Organizers

Hiring Dance Camp Staff—Guidelines For Organizers

An excellent set of guidelines and tips from Lisa Greenleaf on hiring staff for a weekend or week, diving into all aspects of hiring and scheduling.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Gigs from Heaven

This article by Carol Ormond gives excellent tips on how organizers can create a great gig experience for a caller. Much of the advice applies to other hired staff as well.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Musicians, Organizers

Contra Dance Callers Survey

An extensive survey of approximately 400 contra dance callers throughout North America and beyond. Interesting and useful information for organizers and callers alike

From CDSS, 2013

Categories: Callers, Organizers

Hiring Callers and Musicians

This resource outlines some basic considerations and tips for organizers who are hiring callers and bands.

From CDSS

Categories: Organizers

BIDA Family Dance Timing

An example of family dance schedule including a potluck and sound check that works for the long-standing BIDA family dance which occurs before the regular evening dance

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Organizers

Dancing in (Children/Young Adult) Literature: A Partial Bibliography

Looking for a children’s book related to traditional dance and music? This bibliography focuses on children’s & young adult books that connect to traditional, participatory, social dance & music. Belfast Flying Shoes funded the compilation with additional support from the Maine Arts Commission.

From Chrissy Fowler

Categories: Families

Belfast Flying Shoes Caller Information Sheet

An example of a sheet given to callers before a dance to prepare them for what is expected of them.

From Chrissy Fowler/Belfast Flying Shoes

Categories: Organizers

Engaging Families in your (not necessarily “Family”) Dance: Exploring the best strategy for a successful dance series

Session notes on how engaging families can help you create a sustainable dances series with inclusive and sensitive dancers, a dancer demographic that’s intergenerational, as well as increase effective marketing and be a long-term investment in your beloved dance tradition.

From Chrissy Fowler at Puttin’ On The Dance 2015

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion

Attracting Younger Dancers: Creating and maintaining a multigenerational dance

How can we find youth, incorporate them, and keep them? Getting younger people to attend dances (and keep coming back) seems to be the holy grail. Notes from this 2014 session cover two major areas: promoting youth participation (dancers, callers, musicians, board members etc.), and how to have a successful multi-generation dance. Includes practical ideas and tips from people who have successfully achieved this, and we will discuss things that have been tried but did not work.

From Karina Wilson & Laura Gorrin at the 2014 Southwest Regional Organizers Conference

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion

Organizing a Family/Community Dance Series

Marian Rose offers tips on how to start up a regular community dance series.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

To Market, To Market… Jiggity Jig

A dance organizer’s heart swells to see a sea of smiling dancers, just as an entrepreneur is gladdened when her business attracts happy customers. But how do we pull in those dancers and customers? Together, we’ll venture beyond the proverbial flyer table, discovering practical tactics for marketing our series, from the well-crafted press release to preaching to the converted.

From Chrissy Fowler & Lisa Sieverts at Puttin’ On The Dance 2011

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion

Marketing 101: Finding and keeping the crowd you want

Notes from a session on how marketing can help you find and keep the crowd you want. Focuses on the scope of marketing has beyond just advertising and that organizers seeking to attract more people to their dances need to ‘market’ rather than ‘advertise’ their dance. Including the role and importance of the organizational vision in marketing; the benefits of thinking about your dance series as a ‘product;’ the importance of understanding your audience and their perceptions of the product (dance series) you are offering; and the all-important ‘marketing mix’ (a set of tools used to help pursue the marketing objectives).

From Michael Barraclough at the 2014 SW Regional Organizers Conference

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion

Press Releases

A brief how-to on creating press releases to promote your event or series.

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion

Marketing Tips—Old School News Releases Still Work!

In this article, Lisa C. Brown & David N. Boyer describe recent success with using news releases and provides some best practices.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Promotion