CDSS News, Summer 2021


ISSN: 1070-8251

Copy Editor—Ben Williams
Layout & Design—Anna Gilbert-Duveneck
Managing Editor—Kelsey Wells

CDSS Office

116 Pleasant Street #345, Easthampton, MA 01027-2759
fax 413-203-5471
Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


Executive Director, Kathryn Tarter German, x 100,
Director of Finance, Julie Brodnitzki, x 111,
Accounting Manager, Anna Mach, x 113,
Membership & Development Coordinator, Nicole Perez, x 104,
Director of Camp Programs, Steve Howe, x 102,
Director of Programs, Joanna Reiner Wilkinson,
Office & Registration Manager, Crispin Youngberg, x101,
Director of Development, Robin Hayden, x 107,
Community Resources Manager, Linda Henry, x 105,
Director of Operations, Sarah Pilzer, x 103,
Sales & Insurance Manager, Ben Williams, x106,
Marketing & Communications Manager, Kelsey Wells,
Webmaster, Anne Campbell,

CDSS Governing Board


President: Gaye Fifer, Pittsburgh, PA
Vice President: Nikki Herbst, Amana, IA
Secretary: Pam Paulson, Waukesha, WI
Treasurer: Joel Bluestein, Arlington, VA

At Large Members

Peter Baker, Ann Arbor, MI
Nancy Barbour, Monmouth Junction, NJ
Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Marshfield, VT
Karl Colón, Yellow Springs, OH
Jolaine Jones-Pokorney, Gainesville, FL
Susie Lorand, Ann Arbor, MI
Robbin Marcus, Lithonia, GA
Avia Moore, Toronto, ON
Justin Morrison, Burlington, VT
Doug Plummer, Seattle, WA
Marni Rachmiel, Seattle, WA
John Seto, Sacramento, CA
David Shewmaker, Washington, DC
Diane Silver, Asheville, NC
Luanne Stiles, Asheville, NC
Darlene Underwood, Cincinnati, OH
Juliette Webb, Nashville, TN
Chris Weiler, South Burlington, VT

Contact the Board at; board bios and photos are on our website at:

To receive store and office updates, please add,, and to your address book.

About CDSS

The Country Dance & Song Society connects and supports people in building and sustaining vibrant communities through participatory dance, music, and song traditions that have roots in English and North American culture. Membership is open to all. Direct benefits include this magazine, a 10% discount from the CDSS store, priority registration for our summer camp programs, and more. Indirect benefits include the satisfaction of knowing that your support will enhance CDSS’s ability to spread the traditions you love. CDSS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; membership dues and donations are tax deductible. For more information, visit

This magazine is published quarterly by the Country Dance & Song Society. The views expressed within represent the authors and are not necessarily those of CDSS. All material is published by permission.

Balance and Sing: Online Store

This Summer: Check out these wonderful offerings from renowned favorites of the dance community! Can't decide? Order a gift certificate—now available online.

Turning of the Hour album coverTurning of the Hour
By Alchemy

The debut album from the extraordinary Alchemy—Eric Martin (violin, viola, foot percussion), Rachel Bell (accordion), and Karen Axelrod (piano)—truly spins music into ECD gold. Their improvisatory style brings a contemporary and innovative feel to traditional tunes, as well as modern ones from Rachel Bell and Dave Wiesler. The heartfelt performances on this album evoke both powerful energy and spacious beauty. A must-have for any lover of English country dance music!

Out of the Silence album coverOut of the Silence
By the Dancehall Players

This album is Part 1 of an ongoing music-writing project The Dancehall Players started in mid-March 2020 to help fill the void (silence) in their musical world during the pandemic shutdown. Gregory Brown, Aaron Ellingsen, Susan Larkin, Ann Schau, Barrie Webster, and Lael Whitehead play these wonderful original melodies in a wide range of moods, all designed for listening, dancing, enjoying, and sharing!

A Playford Ball book coverA Playford Ball
By Brad Foster and Francis Attanasio

The long-awaited 12th volume of the Bare Necessities ECD series, A Playford Ball – Historical Dances from England, includes instructions for the 16 dances on the CD of the same name by Bare Necessities. The dances are all favorites from The Playford Ball—classics and mainstays of ECD ball programs everywhere, but many are also appropriate additions to a regular weekly dance program as well. The booklet includes detailed dance instructions with notes on teaching, alternative versions, and comments from the authors. Don’t forget the CD!

The ABCs of Contra DancingThe ABCs of Contra Dancing
By Luke Donforth & Sarah Hirsch

This lovingly-illustrated board book is a series of rhyming couplets about the alphabet and contra dance, written by Luke Donforth as he travelled calling various dances around North America. The fabulous artwork was done by Sarah Hirsch, based on her decades in the dance community—you may recognize some friends in her illustrations! This book is a wonderful introduction to this living tradition for the next generation.

Call: 413-203-5467 x106  •  Email:  •  Shop


Summer Camp Updates

Registration is open for our 2021 in-person camp weeks!

  • Harmony of Song & Dance (Pinewoods), July 24-31
  • English Dance Week (Pinewoods), July 31-August 7
  • American Dance & Music Week (Pinewoods), August 7-14
  • Early Music Week (Pinewoods), August 14-21
  • Dance, Music & Spice (Camp Cavell), August 15-22
  • Unplugged with CDSS at Pinewoods, August 21-28

Scholarships are available for all weeks. (So are van rides to and from the airport!) Find out more and register online.

In addition, we’ll have a week of online camp programming July 18-25. More details will be available online.

Common Time

Common Time

/'kämən tīm/ noun

  1. In music, a meter marked by four beats per measure with the quarter note receiving a single beat.
  2. A regularly occurring gathering of those with similar interests.
  3. A new monthly online series from CDSS!

Every third Monday, we’ll focus on a different aspect of our community and highlight an issue, introduce you to something new, and give you things to think about through interviews, panel discussions, lectures, and more. Because we have so much in common.

The first Common Time, “Creating the Post-pandemic Dance Experience,” will be on June 21. As organizations are beginning to contemplate holding in-person activities, and as small dance parties are already happening, it’s time for callers to get ready. Join our panel of dance leaders, Lisa Greenleaf, Cis Hinkle, Kalia Kliban, and Ben Sachs-Hamilton, as they explore what dancers will need, want, and expect once in-person dancing resumes, how callers and organizers will need to work together to help re-build the community, and more.

Find out more and register for free.

Web Chats

For our May 19 Web Chat, we hosted Part 4 of our “Let’s Talk About Reentry” series. Web Chat panelists included a lawyer, an epidemiologist, a dance organizer, and our CDSS Sales & Insurance Manager, who presented a variety of valuable perspectives and resources. Breakout rooms and Q&A were also included. This online discussion drew 430 organizers of music, dance, and song communities. Based on the very enthusiastic and appreciative responses we’ve received, it’s clear that these events are providing much-needed support and connection for groups that are struggling to figure out how to safely emerge from the pandemic.

Since the times are changing quickly these days, we’re waiting to see which needs are most urgent before choosing the topic and date for our next Web Chat. Announcements will mostly be sent online, so stay tuned!

The video, PowerPoint, and transcriptions for this and all previous Web Chats are available here. Questions? Email

New Resource for Open Bands

Now available in the online Resource Portal, “Open Dance Bands: Best Practices Shared by 35 Groups” includes best practices and tips from dance band leaders throughout North America, illustrating the diversity of approaches across communities. The resource can be used as a support for launching new open bands and providing inspiration for groups that have been playing together for years. 

Saro Lynch-ThomasonSaro Lynch-Thomason. Photo by Studio 828 Photography.

Songs That Speak

CDSS is excited to be sponsoring a new YouTube series by the extraordinary singer and songleader Saro Lynch-Thomason. Saro started her video series Songs That Speak as a way to look at the history and folklore behind traditional songs, while making them accessible to a wider audience.

“As a long-time song leader, I always found myself wanting to pack in as much history as possible whenever I taught workshops on traditional songs,” says Saro. “I’ve always felt that the great gift of singing old songs is that they provide an opportunity for the singer to empathize with the experiences of people they might otherwise never meet. For me, learning the history behind these songs has always deepened that empathy, helping me draw comparisons between my life and the lives of others. My aim for Songs that Speak, in essence, is to strengthen the kinship between singers of today and singers of the past by providing a broader context for the songs we love.”

From when we first saw Saro’s videos and heard her motivation, we knew we wanted to be involved with helping sustain that work and expanding its audience. These videos are perfectly aligned with CDSS’s mission in documenting and stewarding living traditions. They’re also a fabulous resource for both the existing song community as well as those just discovering it.

Saro will be releasing two videos a month, one diving deep into the history of the song and another focused on teaching the song to the listener. Check out April’s deep dive on hollering, the ancient tradition of using calls, cries, or phrases to communicate with people or animals over long distances!

Poem: Dance Through the Dark

By Cathy Hollister

Volpony, Volpony, now hushed dance floor
lacks hug and heys,
wants honoring curtseys,
that give breath to step

like so many lonely displaced from their own
the dancers turn single
thoughts into stories
songs into Chorus
Jigs into glee

the pews miss their faithful,
stores long for lost shoppers,
starving cafes and
silver screens, silent
all wonder how humans
tucked Far Away,
thrive in the absence of life’s do-si-do’s
and hands touching hands
giving moments of kindness

St. Margaret watch over,
cast down from your Hill
fresh light washed in solace
warm Zephrys and Flora

for all who endured
Bleak Midwinter alone
hear music of caring,
make Dance of a Lifetime,
seek pale light of morning
just on the horizon

Cathy Hollister is a retired public health consultant and educator who lives in middle Tennessee. She loves both contra and English country dancing and in the last year has become a regular ECD online caller for Nashville Country Dancers. She was a finalist in the Ageless Authors 2020 Coping with Crisis writing contest. Her work has been in Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, Corona Global Lockdown, published by Poet’s Choice, and La Concha of the American Pilgrims on the Camino.

Back to Top