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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112 Results

How Community Culture Impacts Dancer Experience

Slides from an excellent presentation on how community culture impacts dancer experience.

From Emily Addison & Tara Bolker

Categories: Organizers

Revitalization: How Do You Make a Dance Come Back to Life?

In this article, Joyce Fortune writes about the steps that her community took to revitalize their flagging series.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Vision Workshop Materials with Examples

David Millstone’s session handout on how to create a vision. Includes examples of mission statements from NEFFA and Belfast Flying Shoes.

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

The How and Why of Creating a Vision

A concise explanation from Max Newman of the why and how of creating a vision.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

How to Craft a Vision

Tips and distilled wisdom from CDSS for how to craft a vision for your event, series, team, or group.

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Making Jam Sessions Great, a guide for participants and leaders

An article from Dave Firestine about how to create a great jam session, both as a participant and leader.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians, Organizers

Madison’s Tuesday Night Dances—Fostering Talent for More Than Twenty Years

This article by Carol Ormand describes Madison, Wisconsin’s approach to developing talent through weekly dances that feature newer callers as well as an open band.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Open Bands

Improving the ECD Open Band Experience

Robert Reichert provides some suggestions on how to improve the experience of playing with, and the quality of music from an ECD open band.

From the CDSS News

Categories: English Country Dance, Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Open Bands

Open Dance Bands: Best Practices Shared by 35 Groups

This manual shares common best practices used by 35 open dance bands from throughout North America, and illustrates the diversity of approaches across communities. We hope this resource provides a great starting point for launching new open bands and additional inspiration for groups that have been playing together for years.

From Emily Addison and CDSS

Categories: Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Open Bands

How Much do Dance Weekends Pay?

This blog postbreaks down what dance weekends pay musicians. Original post 2016 with an update in 2018.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Musicians, Organizers

Hiring a Dance Musician?

A flyer that highlights what goes into playing for a dance in relation to what musicians get paid/dancers pay.

From Sarah Gowan

Categories: Musicians, Organizers

Talking About…Money

An article from Brendan Taaffe opening up discussion about money in the contra community, especially in relation to pay for musicians.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Introduction to Pronouns

Miriam Newman explains the movement towards asking people about their pronouns.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Educators, Musicians, Organizers, Singers

Topics: Equity

5 Things…Inside the Dancing Mind of…

A one-hour chat with Q&A from movers and shakers in the English Country Dance community from across the country about the 5 things that they feel are important to our passion for ECD and why. 

From the Historical Tea and Dance Society.

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Musicians, Organizers

Trycontra.com

A website of contra dances where you can enter your zip code and it will list dances close by. You can also look at the full list of dances.]

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Contra Dance, Dancers, Organizers

The Caller Directory

The Caller Directory is a spreadsheet listing self-submitted callers, their contact information, and what they call. It also provides space for references, video links, and a comment from the caller.

From Luke Donforth

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Gender Free Contra Facebook Group

This Facebook group is for enthusiasts of Larks and Ravens terminology. However, other ways of welcoming LGBTQIA dancers into contra and other folk dances are also on topic. The group offers resources, discussion, and strategy.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Discussion, Equity

Shared Weight: English Country Dance Discussion List

The Shared Weight ECD listserv (email group) is for discussion of all aspects of modern and historical English Country Dance and related forms as they have relevance to the discussion. (Related forms include contra, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, contradanza, Victorian longways dances, quadrilles, cotillions, etc.). The list is intended for callers, dancers, organizers, and musicians, who are all part of one community. Join the discussion!

Categories: Callers, English Country Dance, Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Discussion

Leading a Contra Dance Role-swapping Workshop

This article by Erik Erhardt and Tina Fields describes one approach to running a workshop where dancers develop familiarity and skill in dancing both dance roles.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Contra Dance Choreography: A Reflection of Social Change

This book (available free online) is based upon Mary McNab Dart’s research into the changing choreography of contra dance, including how dances are composed, what aesthetic principles underlie their composition, and how the evolution of the choreography reflects changes in the preferences and priorities of the people who dance them.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Topics: Composing, History

A Figure By Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy

This article by Katy German, Sue Stanton, and Jeff Kaufman explores the use of the term “gypsy” in calling and presents a range of alternative options.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

Response to: “A Figure by Any Other Name: Exploring Alternatives to Gypsy”

Dragan Gill’s exploration of the term gypsy, both in terms of how it is used in dance as well as in the broader cultural context.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

The Hatchlings—Developing Callers in St. Louis

Martha Edwards describes a model for developing callers that she feels will work in many different community contexts.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, English Country Dance, Novices, Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Madison’s Tuesday Night Dances: Fostering Talent for More Than 20 Years

This article by Carol Ormond describes Madison’s approach to developing talent through weekly dances that feature newer callers as well as an open band.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, Musicians, Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

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

Dela Murphy describes Portland, Maine’s approach to training and mentoring new callers, including how they source funding for that work.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

Training New Contra Callers in Portland, ME

Dugan Murphy describes Portland, Maine’s experience in training new contra callers.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance, Organizers

History of Larks/Ravens

In this blog post, Jeff presents a history of Larks/Ravens. The post is followed by a community discussion.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Dancers, Organizers

Larks and Ravens: A Report from the Field

Dela Murphy and Dugan Murphy make a case for gender-free calling and describe how communities can transition to using gender-free terms.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity

Gender-free calling: why does it matter?

Lisa Heywood discusses the importance of gender-free calling and offers some practical tips on how to get started.

From EFDSS

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered

Lisa Heywood’s Gender-Free Dance Page

Lisa offers a variety of resources on gender-free and positional calling and dancing.

From Lisa Heywood

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Equity, Non-Gendered

Square Dance History Project

An expansive resource of square dance history, repertoire, and more. Also contains a vast collection of stories, photographs, video, and audio.

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Organizers, Square Dance

Topics: History, Repertoire

Sacred Harp Singing

All things shape note, provided by the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association.

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Traditional Music Today Facebook Group

This Facebook group “attempts to be a safe(r) space to discuss traditional music, culture and our lives as members of it.”

Categories: Callers, Dancers, Musicians, Organizers, Singers

Topics: Discussion

Sacred Harp Singing Discussion Lists

Two Sacred Harp singing email lists. One focuses on events and individuals while the other focuses on the historical and technical aspects of shape note singing.

From Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association 

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Shared Weight: Song Organizers Discussion List

This mailing list (email group) welcomes anyone interested in organizing song events. List members ask/answer questions, discuss issues that come up for them, and share helpful resources. There are both new and experienced organizers from throughout North America and beyond. Join the discussion!

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Topics: Discussion

Breaking Down the Legacy of Race in Traditional Music in America

This NPR radio piece and the associated article explore the intersection between racism and traditional music & song. Both Jake Blount and the Youth Traditional Song Weekend are featured.

From National Public Radio

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Topics: Equity

How to Lead Groups in Song In 10 Easy Lessons

Ten tips for leading a successful group sing. 

By Peter Blood and Annie Patterson

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Fostering Intergenerational Community

This document is a product of groups discussions in a workshop attended by members of the YTS community. It focuses on what works, what doesn’t, and how individuals can raise intergenerational issues within their community.

From Youth Traditional Song Weekend 2015

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Topics: Accessibility

The Mermaid’s Tavern Guide to Zoom Singing

The Mermaid’s Tavern Guide to Zoom Singing is a blog-based website for planning, producing, and participating in community song sessions and concerts online. It includes an extensive resources section of over 25 additional guides to various aspects of online music, dance, and song.

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Topics: Pandemic, Starting Up

CDSS Starter Kit for Folk Song Organizers

A comprehensive how-to on starting a sing. Includes sections on vision, finding a venue, publicity, structure, facilitation, and more!

From CDSS

Categories: Organizers, Singers

Topics: Starting Up

How to Facilitate an Organizers Discussion

This resource not only provides a number of tips on how to facilitate a discussion but it also includes a how-to on including a session at a pre-existing event or creating your own day-long gathering.

Categories: Organizers

MDDL Morris Dancing Discussion List

The MDDL (“Muddle”) is an unmoderated listserv (email group) devoted to discussions, debates, and rants on all things morris, including: Cotswold, border, garland, Northwest, etc.; sword dancing, both long sword and rapper; mumming, mumming plays and other ritual drama; molly dancing, Abbots Bromley, plough dancing; winter festivals such as wassailing, caroling and Twelfth Night; May Day celebrations, including May poles and other rural festivities; and anything else we can think of that might be even the slightest bit morris related.

Categories: Musicians, Organizers, Ritual Dance

Topics: Discussion

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 6: Prioritizing Safety at In-person Dances

February 28, 2022

CDSS Executive Director Katy German had a conversation with three contra dance organizers who have resumed in-person dancing. They described adjustments they’ve made to their “normal” processes, what impacted their decision to resume, what they’re asking of participants, and what they recommend to others. We also presented a new online resource: Groups that Have Resumed In-person Events.

Read More

Categories: Dance Tradition, Organizers, Web Chats

The Evolution of KAOS (Kick Ass Oberlin Sword)

Hannah Lindner-Finlay describes the creation of a sword team at Oberlin College and provides some tips for others starting college teams.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers, Ritual Dance

Topics: Starting Up

College Organizers Handbook

This handbook provides advice on how to create dance/music events on university and college campuses. It includes tips on programming, campus publicity, working with college administration, and much more.

From CDSS

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Welcoming Diverse Populations

2015, Putting on the Dance 2
Sophia Donforth and Julia Bennett
Notes from a workshop given at POTD2: Who are your dancers? Who is missing from your dance floor, and why? We’ll examine ways to reach out to more diverse populations and how to make a more welcoming dance community for everyone. Bring an anecdote to share about a magic moment, or something you’d do differently. Participants will leave with a list of ways to reach new dancers, and make an inclusive dance “commons” that brings them back a second time!

Categories: Dancers, Organizers

Topics: Accessibility, Equity

Weathering the Winter Together

November 1, 2021

We used this Web Chat to generate lots of ideas for keeping communities safe and engaged during another pandemic winter. Small groups brainstormed further ideas in breakout rooms. Also, public health professor Dr. Kimbi Hagen shared news and perspectives about how the pandemic is progressing.

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Web Chats

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 5: News from Groups That Have Resumed In-person Events

August 12, 2021

There is strong interest amongst organizers in hearing news from communities that have already resumed in-person events. This Web Chat provided valuable experiences and suggestions from two dance and song organizers ​who are already navigating their reentry, as well as perspectives from a public health professional.

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Web Chats

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 4: Addressing Legal and Other Burning Questions

May 19, 2021

For this Web Chat, CDSS hired an attorney to address some of our broader community’s legal questions. Other panelists provided resources and considerations to help organizers chart their group’s course for safely emerging from the pandemic. Ultimately, each group needs to ask their own questions and find answers that are right for their location, type of event, and community. We’re all in this together!

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Web Chats

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 3: An MD Discusses Vaccines, and We Discuss Our Sector’s Needs

March 1, 2021

In this third installment of the “Let’s Talk About Reentry” Web Chat series, we featured presentations and discussions about how the pandemic has altered our communities’ needs and how we can best prepare for returning to in-person dancing, singing, and music-making.

Read More

Categories: Organizers, Web Chats