Many things make CDSS important to us. Dancing and music have had a huge impact on our lives, not the least of which was bringing us together. Joel grew up in a musical family and first attended Pinewoods in the early 1970s. Michal remembers her first time at Pinewoods in the 1980s, when she was curious to find out how everybody discovered dancing. She was impressed and hugely jealous that many people were introduced to it by their parents and had grown up with music and dance. We’ve done the same with our children. We started bringing them to CDSS family weeks when they were little; they’re now in their 20s, and dance and music are a central part of their lives.

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In writing our will, it was clear that supporting CDSS was important to both of us. Watching the response of the Country Dance & Song Society to the COVID-19 crisis on our continent confirms all that we admire about our national organization.

Musicians play to calm our souls and camp weeks hold virtual gatherings that unite friends and families with joy and good cheer. CDSS web talks convey vital information concerning critical decisions by our local organizations about reopenings. CDSS also created a venue to support musicians and callers who depend upon events for their livelihood. This year’s virtual camp weeks provided an opportunity to enjoy sensitive and uplifting songs, stories, fun, and games. Viewing these moments helped us through yet another week or two of no dancing, no socializing, and no meals with family and friends.

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Sometimes people ask what it is that I love about CDSS. That’s easy: it has given me decades of joy. I was introduced to English country dance by accident 30 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. My participation in everything from English country, contra, morris and rapper, to the exhilarating community singing of Sacred Harp, all lead back to CDSS.

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I have included CDSS in my estate planning because traditional music and dance has contributed so much to me, and I want it to continue into the future. I trust CDSS to use my contribution wisely to promote the traditional music and dance forms that I enjoy so much.

This is just one of the ways I give back to the dance community. Giving back has never been a burden or chore; I contribute simply because it feels right.

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Adding CDSS to our estate plans this year was a natural step in setting up our legacy, because we trust CDSS to carry forward the things that matter most to us far into the future.

When we began dancing in our home communities in Massachusetts, we were focused on our own challenges of becoming competent dancers and thoroughly appreciated the patience and skill of our local leaders. Thanks to Helene Cornelius in the ‘70s and Robin Hayden in the 2000s! We focused on our local groups and were not very aware of CDSS.

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ECD captivates me because it speaks to both my head and heart—its blend of patterns, precision, and haunting, heart-rending melodies are immensely satisfying to practice, study, and improvise on. It’s led to both sublime moments of connection on the dance floor and extraordinary friendships beyond it.

As someone whose parents both died before the age of 65 and someone who has witnessed problematic outcomes thanks to nonexistent wills, outdated beneficiary designations, and the like, I am a fervent believer in estate planning and maintenance. (Knowing that wills are supposed to be revisited and revised periodically got me past the mental barrier of trying to make the document perfect for Future Me.)

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An avid contra and morris dancer since the ‘70s, and later a caller and co-founder of Houston Area Traditional Dance and Song, I took a few years off from dance leadership while my boys were small. I returned to dancing and calling again in 2000, and there was CDSS, ready with books to buy, read, and incorporate into my calling! When my friend Joseph Pimentel asked me if I would be willing to serve on the CDSS Board, I was surprised but curious. I had the impression that CDSS was a northeast-centric organization, but Joseph suggested that the more that people like me from communities beyond the northeast served on the Board, the broader CDSS’s reach and perspective would become.

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We are grateful to have received a major legacy gift from the James Edward Hudock Trust.

James Edward Hudock, known to his friends as “Sunshine Jim,” was a beloved member of the Melbourne (FL) English Country Dance and the Cocoa Beach Contra Dance communities, enjoying the friendships that developed there and becoming an informal board member. From time to time, he was suspected of being the “Dance Angel” who would make quiet cash donations to keep the slow times solvent. Even when health challenges began to make dancing difficult for him, his presence at dances lifted spirits.

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There has been so much to celebrate this year!
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Yuletide Frolic, Lawrence, KS; photo by Lisa Nelick.

More Ways to Give:

  • Planned Giving

    CDSS Legacy of Joy SocietyIncluding CDSS in your estate plans is a great way to make your core values known to others while ensuring the sustainability of CDSS.

  • Stock Gifts

    A gift of marketable securities is tax deductible and may offset capital gains.


  • Employer Match

    Many employers will match part or all of your membership gift or other donation. Applying for matching funds through your workplace can double your gift to CDSS.

  • Qualified Charitable Distribution

    A QCD is an excellent way to pass required minimum distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts to CDSS.

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  • Charitable Remainder Trust

    Name CDSS as a beneficiary of a Charitable Remainder Trust.

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  • Membership

    Start or renew your CDSS membership. Or join the Circle of Friends with an automatic monthly or quarterly gift!

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Quick Info about CDSS:

Legal Name: Country Dance and Song Society, Inc
Address: 116 Pleasant St., Suite 334, Easthampton, MA 01027

CDSS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Employer Identification Number (EIN) 04-3031125.

Your gift to CDSS is fully tax-deductible. No goods or services will be given in exchange for any portion of your donation. 

We met either dancing or playing music—neither of us can remember, as we were both “otherwise engaged”—but those two threads drew us ever closer, and continue to knit our lives together. Our courtship continued after Doug moved a few hours away—he would drive down to the Friday contradance and whisk me onto the floor.

The strands in those threads multiplied—waltz, contra, English, square; early music and recorder, old-time music with banjos and guitars, and oh so many songs (Pat is sure that when she is on her deathbed Doug will sing for her yet another song that she’s never heard him sing before).

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