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.

Search the Portal

Use the search box and filters below to find resources.
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.

  • Filter by:

  • Filter by Topic:

283 Results

Marketing your English Dance: Don’t Blame Jane!

This article by Lisa Brown from (president of Country Dancers of Rochester and past coordinator of the Central & Western NY region
of the Jane Austen Society of North America) outlines how ECD communities can partner with Jane Austen clubs (and fans) to bring in new dancers.

From the CDSS News

Categories: English Country Dance, Organizers

A Collection of Print Promotional Material

This resource contains posters, flyers, business cards and more from 57 different dance, music and song communities. It is meant as inspiration for organizers developing their own print material.

Categories: Organizers

Skill-Building for Dance Promotion: How to Create Good Instructional Dance Videos

Don Bell give some excellent tips on how to film dances

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

How to Photograph a Contra Dance

Long time dance photographer Doug Plummer details some tips for photographing at a contra dance.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Taking a Safety Report

Thoughts on how to handle a safety complaint/problem when it is raised to you as an organizer.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Organizers

Handling Really Difficult People

The information in this supplement is a distillation of the actual recent experience of the [San Francisco] Bay Area Country Dance Society Board of Directors, including 1. How to cope with restraining orders, when and how to get legal advice, identifying inappropriate behavior, investigating inappropriate behavior, dealing with inappropriate behavior, handling appeals, summary and checklists.

From Jens M. Dill/CDSS West Coast Leadership Conference: 2006

Categories: Organizers

Proactive Management of “Problem Dancers” – Creating a Dance Environment Safe for All

This article by Will Loving explores a wide range of topics focused on creating a safe dance environment for all.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

Taking Someone Aside

In this article, Jeff Kaufman shares his thoughts on how to have conversations with individuals identified as having bad behavior.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Organizers

BIDA Signs

In this blog post, Jeff shares the signs that BIDA posts around the hall which reflect the values of their dance series.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Organizers

Working with Crowded Dance Halls

In this piece, Brad Foster explores some solutions on how to handle dances where the crowd is too large for the space.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers

Vision: First Things First

What IS a vision/mission? How do we craft and implement a unique mission statement for our dance series? Why is this a crucial step in the growth of each dance? Whether your dance already has a mission statement, or you’re just starting to think about this, or you’re somewhere in between, this all-conference session will offer practical tools and thought-provoking perspectives for addressing this pertinent topic. Together we will explore these vital questions, generating answers to inform and guide our participation throughout the SWROC weekend.

From SW Regional Organizers Conference 2014 by Annie Laskey, Linda Henry, & Michael Barraclough

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Starting Up

Welcoming Diverse Populations

Session notes on how to make a welcoming dance community for everyone.

From Sophia Donforth & Julia Bennett

Categories: Organizers

Topics: Equity

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

Dance It Yourself

The CDSS multigenerational dance video series, is our response to dancing at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: Educators

American Folk Dancing with Evo Bluestein

This is a 10 minute video snapshot of an American Folk Dance Residency by Evo Bluestein. With a large repertoire of traditional dances and songs as his tools, Evo introduces a fun social and cultural experience and at the same time, teaches courtesy and important social rules of behavior. Evo introduces students to fiddle, accordion, Appalachian dulcimer and many other instruments. It is no small feat that he can demonstrate the steps, call the dance and play old time fiddle at the same time. The week, culminates in a rousing Friday night “barn dance.” 

Categories: Educators

Square Dancing with 3rd Graders

This is a 17-minute documentary (2013) about a project in Berkeley that involves musician and caller Erik Hoffman. The work builds on folk dance instruction by 3rd grade teacher Susan Graubard Archuletta. Mention is made of the 4 C’s: courtesy, cooperation, concentration, and community. You’ll see shots of Zodiac, Texas Star, the Virginia Reel, and even a bit of Sellinger’s Round. Nicely edited mix of the adults talking to the camera along with plenty of shots of a very diverse group of kids dancing and having lots of fun.

From Crabtron

Categories: Educators

Country Dancing as a College Course

Brooke Friendly describes her experience leading an English and Scottish country dance college course, including getting the course approved, evaluating students, and more. Includes example course proposal and syllabus. 

From the CDSS News

Categories: Educators, English Country Dance

Dance for College Credit!

Hilton Baxter describes his experience leading a college dance course including getting it approved, the goals of the course, and much more.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Educators

Dancing In Schools

Wondering how to bring the next generation to dance and song? Read these collected reprints from the CDSS News recounting readers’ experiences, success stories and practical advice for teaching traditional country and ritual dance in school settings.

This resource is free for CDSS members and is available for purchase through the CDSS Online Store.

Categories: Educators

Family and Community Dances

Lots of useful information on creating, programming, and organizing a family dance from contributors Dudley Laufman, Andy Davis, Bob Dalsemer, Marian Rose, and Joan Shimer. Includes an extensive resource list.

This resource is free for CDSS members and is available for purchase through the CDSS Online Store.

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Educators

Decolonizing the Music Room

This website provides research for music educators on unsung narratives in U.S. folk music, resources, and tools for decolonizing practices.

Categories: Educators

Topics: Equity

Dinah, Put Down Your Horn: Blackface Minstrel Songs Don’t Belong in Music Class

In this article, Dr Katya Erolaeva makes the case to remove racist songs from school music programs and discusses a number of songs with racist messaging.

From Medium

Categories: Educators

Topics: Equity

Adapting for Young Children

Marian Rose provides some fantastic calling tips as well as suggestions for dances to do when accommodating young children as part of your dancing community

From the CDSS News

Categories: Callers, Community/Family Dance, Educators

Crankies in the Music Classroom

This article outlines how Eleanor Lincoln learned about crankies and started using them in her elementary classroom.  It also includes tips to support other teachers in doing so!

From the CDSS News

Categories: Educators

Shared Weight: Dance Musicians Discussion List

This mailing list welcomes dance musicians and those interested in dance music for any form of traditional social dance. This includes contra, English country, traditional squares (e.g., Appalachian, New England, Quebecois, Cape Breton, etc), community/family/barn, ceili, bal folk, and more. Dance musicians ask/answer questions, discuss issues that come up for them, and share helpful resources. This is a great way to talk to dance musicians from throughout North America and beyond. Join the discussion!

Categories: Community/Family Dance, Contra Dance, Early American Dance, English Country Dance, Musicians, Square Dance

Topics: Discussion

The Traditional Tune Archive

A collection of more then 40,000 North American, British and Irish tunes with new ones being added every month.

From Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Repertoire

The Session

A collection of tens of thousands of trad tunes, contributed collectively by a strong community of musicians. There are updates to the tunes on a daily basis.

From Jeremy Keith

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Repertoire

Cecil Sharp Piano Scores

Mickie Zekley has scanned many of Cecil Sharp’s piano arrangements of country dance tunes, originally published in 1912, and made them available online in PDF format. These scores provide ideas for piano players about how to accompany many popular English country dance tunes. Note that the key signatures of some of the tunes differ from those most commonly used by contemporary musicians.

From Mendocino ECD

Categories: English Country Dance, Musicians

Topics: Repertoire

North Atlantic Tune List

This website contains hundreds of tunes with MP3 audio clips, sheet music and ABC notation. The tunes come from several regions around the North Atlantic: Scandinavia, the British Isles, Quebec, Cape Breton, Métis (Saskatchewan & Manitoba), New England, Appalachia, and more. The website also includes some of the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra tunes which often have harmonies included.

From North Atlantic Tune list

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Repertoire

The SPUDS Contra Dance Tunes

SPUDS are an open/all comers dance band. Their website contains a large number of tunes in abc format and standard notation, along with links to other tune repositories. 

From SPUDS

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Open Bands, Repertoire

Positional Calling

Jeremy Child explores positional calling as a way to expand the boundaries of choreography.

Categories: Callers, Contra Dance

Topics: Choreography, Equity, Non-Gendered

Composing Dance Music

Colin Hume gives his detailed thoughts and tips on composing dance music.

From Colin Hume

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Composing

“Do We Have To?” Copyright Basics

This article by Pat MacPherson provides some considerations on whether one needs to get permission to use someone else’s work when publishing a dance or tune book or when recording a CD.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians

Tracking Copyrights and Composers

Susan Songer describes how she tracked down composers and copyrights for her one of her books of contra dance music.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians

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

Leading an Open Band

This blog post provides some thoughts on how to lead an open band.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Open Bands

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

Back Row Bands

This article by Sue Songer describes the power of guest musicians being able to play along with dance bands – in what is known as ‘the back row.’ It also describes how to successfully create this experience in your dance community.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians

Topics: Open Bands

Handling CD Money

This blog post explores how bands can manage the money they make off CDs.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Musicians

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

Communicating About Contra Dance Sound

This blog post provides some tips on how to communicate with sound technicians.

From Jeff Kaufman

Categories: Musicians

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

Road Trip! A Practical Guide for New Touring Bands

This article by David Firestine provides some tips on how to arrange a tour playing dances.

From the CDSS News

Categories: Musicians