As the pandemic began, the CDSS Education Task Group created the Dance it Yourself video series to keep kids and families dancing while remaining safe at home. These six videos feature traditional dance callers, musicians, and a wide variety of dance styles, all of which can be done solo or in a couple. As series 2 gets underway, and now that kids and teachers are together in the classroom, join CDSS Board member and series creator Robbin Marcus and panelists Mary Epstein, Claire Takemori, and Amy Christianson as they discuss the development of the series, how the videos were used during the pandemic, and how teachers can adapt the dances for larger groups and classroom use.
Robbin Marcus is a well-known caller of contras, squares, and community dances. Robbin started dancing contra, English, and morris in Baltimore, MD, after college and happily attended American Week at Pinewoods for the first time in 1986. As a music educator, Robbin quickly ascertained the importance of accurate traditional music and dance performance styles in the classroom–something she might not have understood were it not for CDSS. Subsequently she has been on staff for numerous CDSS weeks at Pinewoods, teaching both adult and kids classes (including a stint as Family Week director), and has enjoyed several recent opportunities to call contras and teach Alexander Technique at Christmas Country Dance School in Berea, KY.
Robbin teaches graduate level certification courses in Kodály Music Education, Folk Song Research/Analysis, Folk Dance, and Alexander Technique in the summer at George Mason University, where she is the Summer Kodály Program Director. She is frequently in demand as a clinician throughout the United States. At home, Robbin teaches piano and Alexander Technique lessons in Atlanta, GA. Robbin plays piano for both contras and English country dances throughout the south, and is greatly enjoying branching out as a musician in bands with her husband, Dave Marcus.
Claire Takemori is a dance teacher and caller. Her passion is to share the joy of music, dance & community. She studied dance from 3 years old, and was also a competitive gymnast through high school. She danced with Black Repertoire Dance Company at UC Davis, then Savage Jazz Dance Company in Oakland. She teaches a wide variety of dances: Barn, Community, Family, Squares, Hoedown, Contra, English Country, Ceilidh parties, as well as kids’ games & singing and couples’ waltzing. She has called dances for various festivals, contra dances in CA, WA, HI, MA, and private events for families, celebrations, and communities.
Dr. Mary Allmon Epstein is a Kodály music educator, Dalcroze eurhythmics teacher, pianist, vocalist, and choral conductor. Dr. Epstein served as president of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) 2016-2018, with which she remains active chairing two national committees – OAKE Leaf and OAKE Research & Publications. In 1998 Mary Epstein as faculty member of the New England Conservatory music education department, co-founded its Kodály Music Programs. In 2010 she co-founded the Kodály Music Programs at Anna Maria College. She was a 1971 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study the Hungarian Music Education System at the Liszt Academy and develop an American adaptation of the Kodály philosophy in the New Haven Public Schools with music taught daily Kindergarten – Grade 8. Since that time, she has taught in the Boston area at the Park School, the Mary Curley Elementary School, Pine Manor College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and private studio piano.
Amy Christianson teaches preschool music in Stafford, VA where she has developed a Kodály-based curriculum. She graduated with a B.M.E. from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and completed her Kodály certification at George Mason University. Amy has worked as Education Coordinator and Civic Youth Orchestra Manager at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and has taught elementary music and middle school band in DoDDS-Europe schools and in Virginia.
In her free time, Amy enjoys keeping up with her four boys and traveling as a family. She is looking forward to resuming teaching folk dances to her preschoolers as soon as we can all hold hands again.