CDSS 2020 Grants Make an Impact
English Dancing Goes Virtual in MD
By Donna Rogall
A few years ago, I started attending the Wednesday night Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW) English country dance. I soon noticed that the announcements at the dance often included enthusiastic mentions of CDSS resources, events, membership, and scholarships.
When the pandemic shut down all of our area in-person dances, I discovered in a listing on the CDSS website that the Toronto ECD, run by Catherine Campbell and Maxine Louie, had started running their event online. After Cathy spent a couple of hours explaining their structure to me, I wondered if CDSS might be able to help our local ECD to do the same.
When initially approached, the FSGW ECD dance committee was excited by the prospect, but our callers were hesitant to move to the virtual arena. However, six of our usual nine callers expressed willingness to attend a workshop to explore the idea further. So, FSGW applied for a CDSS grant to fund a workshop aimed at helping our ECD callers transition to running dances online.
Melissa Running developed that workshop with our online committee leader, Carrie Rose, and then ran it. The workshop focused on the primary issues that our callers described as barriers: technological issues involving sound and Zoom, recorded music issues (we’re used to live music exclusively), and sensibility issues around calling to one or two people, dance selection, ideas for non-progressing, and pinning. Melissa addressed all these topics in a step-by-step manner, including demonstrations, a Q&A section, and reference materials.
Our online committee worked on the structure of the event at the same time. We decided to follow the model that the Toronto ECD is using and include in our follow-up email a link to the CDSS website for donations to musicians, along with a list of the music that was played and its sources.
Thanks to the confidence building and other tangible outcomes of the workshop, we have been able to continue to hold a weekly Wednesday evening dance. Each of the callers who attended the workshop has now called for us online and the attendance has been excellent. Converting to a virtual venue may have helped inspire the organizers of other FSGW events to make a similar transition.
We are thankful for the financial support provided by CDSS Grants for our workshop. Also valuable was the access to CDSS’s connections and resources, including the “Send Love to Freelancers” page, Web Chat materials, Resource Portal, and email groups.
For me personally, the process of working with CDSS and taking part in creating a local online dance event had a great side effect. When the FSGW contra New Year’s Eve Ball committee was in the process of cancelling our upcoming in-person event, the experience had made me brave enough to consider (along with Janine Smith) putting together a group of people to transform the usual Ball into something that could bring the folk community together from all over the world in one special 12-hour evening. It was the spark that ended up creating the New Year’s Eve Sea to Sea: Music, Dancing, and More! online extravaganza.
Grants at Work During the Pandemic
By Linda Henry
Despite COVID-19, CDSS Grants were busy in 2020! Prior to the pandemic, grant funding primarily supported in-person events and was offered in early February, June, and October. Since COVID-19 was fast approaching when we processed the February 1 applications, many of the events we funded for that cycle were postponed to 2021.
In early May, we started accepting grant applications on a rolling basis, which will continue for the foreseeable future.
These events received CDSS Grants in 2020:
- Cabin John, MD: Zoom ECD Callers Workshop— training to help local callers convert to calling virtual dances (sponsored by Folklore Society of Greater Washington). May 24, 2020.
- Northampton, MA: Musicians Workshop Series— online group lessons led by New England musicians for the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts. January 14-April 1, 2021.
- Lawrence, KS: Callers Workshop during the weekend of a local monthly contra dance (sponsored by Lawrence Barn Dance Association). Postponed.
- Asheville, NC: Intensive for ECD Leaders—a regional training event including program planning and calling at local evening dance. Postponed.
- Berkeley, CA: Dare to Be Square—scholarships to attend a weekend of square dance, music, and calling workshops. Postponed.
Cultural Equity Trainings
- Latham, NY: Online Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Training led by Move Together (sponsored by the DanceFlurry Organization for its board, staff, and volunteers). December 15, 2020.
- Pittsburgh, PA: Online Cultural Equity Training for CDSS Affiliates in 5 states. January 31, 2021.
New Event Series and Weekend Event
- Brattleboro, VT: Stars in the Rafters—a podcast providing comfort and community connections through traditional music, song, and poetry. Since April 2020.
- Bristol, CT: Community-Family Dance—a new intergenerational series at Carousel Museum. Postponed.
- Brevard, NC: Transylvania Square Dance—a new series to help student music groups experience traditional music in the context of square dancing. Postponed.
- Olympia, WA: Raise the Rafters—an inclusive, accessible weekend for singers of all ages interested in traditional folk songs, singing styles, and their cultural context (an in-person event planned for Nov. 2021).
- Arlington, WA: Project to create a self-sustaining Community Dance Series, including a 5-Year Anniversary Dance. February 15, 2020.
- San Luis Obispo, CA: Double Dance—an afternoon English dance and an evening contra dance event in lieu of dance weekend. Postponed.
- Troy, MI: Dual Dance—a three-part event with an advanced afternoon dance, dinner, and an evening dance for all to revitalize the local contra series. Postponed.