CDSS News, Spring 2021

Balance and Sing: Online Store

This Spring: Check out these fantastic new books and CDs from across the country and for all ages! Don’t know what to get? Order a gift certificate—now available online.

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.

By Steam

The latest from Steam! one of the great western contra dance bands. Alice Boyle on fiddle and viola; Dave Firestine on mandolin, bouzouki, guitar, and percussion; Robert Rosenberg on guitar and banjo; and Claire Zucker on bodhran, concertina, vocals, and feet all combine for a beautiful sound that never lets up. A range of great tunes played with vigor, humor, and emotion create a CD worth listening to again and again.

Wait ‘til You Hear This One! By Sugar BeatWait ‘til You Hear This One!
By Sugar Beat

Sugar Beat (Elke Baker, fiddle; Susan Brandy, flute; and Marc Glickman, piano) has been making music together for nearly two decades. They’ve honed their style at dance halls, where the drive and creativity of their contra dance arrangements never fail to energize the crowd. Blending Irish, American, Scottish, Quebecois, and Klezmer traditions with contemporary improvisation as well as their own original compositions, their dynamic performance has the effect of making you think with your feet!

Join Up Hands By Sue HulsetherJoin Up Hands
By Sue Hulsether

Join Up Hands is a volume of simple and accessible longways, circle, and square dances. Each of the 23 dances is accompanied by clear directions and time-tested teaching tips, along with reference materials and historical context. The companion CD (sold separately) provides 12 tracks of lively old-time string band music, perfect for accompanying the dances in the book. Sample calls and a beautiful waltz round out the recording to recreate the feel of a real-live barn dance!

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


CDSS News Spring 2021

ISSN: 1070-8251

Dance Editor—Bob Dalsemer
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.

Gratitude for song editor, Lorraine Hammond!

The CDSS News is honored to have worked for many years with song editor Lorraine Hammond. Lorraine volunteered countless hours wrangling the “CDSS Sings” column and contributing to our online “Song of the Month” series. Thank you, Lorraine, for helping us sing in every issue!

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.


Joanna Reiner WilkersonNew Director of Programs!

Welcome aboard Joanna Reiner Wilkinson, CDSS’s new Director of Programs! You will hear more from Joanna in the summer issue of the News. Keep your eye out for new program announcements, and read more about Joanna’s background at

2021 Summer Camp Updates

While there is some positive news about vaccinations, the pandemic is by no means over. We feel (and hope!) that there is a chance of camps happening this summer, but we don’t think it’s a sure enough bet to open registration and ask for deposits now. When and if the likelihood of camps is high enough, we will open registration (and scholarship applications) and spread the word by email, mail, Facebook, and on

CDSS runs camp programs at four different locations in four different states, and we are working with each facility individually to determine if it is safe to hold our programs there this year. It is possible that decisions about each facility will be made at different times, and that programs will run at some camp locations, but not at others.

If we can’t gather in person, we will find ways to bring our camp communities together online. We know that our communities are strong, and we know that, however long it takes to get there, singing and dancing together will be sweeter than ever after the pain of separation.

In the meantime, check out our other online programs at!

Board Nomination Deadline is June 30!

The CDSS Governing Board will have positions to be filled next year and would appreciate your nomination suggestions. We are looking for a mix of folks passionate about traditional dance, music, and song, with the skills, experience, time, and energy to serve a three-year Board term. Skills that are always needed are fundraising, accounting/financial expertise or business acumen, or experience serving on other boards. If you’re interested in being involved in other ways, there are also opportunities for non-Board members to serve on committees and task groups. If you or someone you know fits any of these criteria, please send your suggestions to us with the following information:

  • Person’s contact information (email address and phone number)
  • How they are involved in CDSS traditions (e.g., singer, dancer, musician, organizer, etc.)
  • Professional and personal skills they would bring to the Board (or committees/task groups)
  • Why they would be a good Board (or committee/task group) member

Send suggestions to the CDSS Nominating Committee by June 30, 2021, via email or mail: Juliette Webb, PO Box 58532, Nashville, TN 37205-8532.

CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award: 2022 Nominations Open!

Do you know someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the mission of CDSS? Has this contribution benefited multiple geographical areas or generations of people? Have they worked in conjunction with CDSS for more than 20 years? If the answer is “yes” to all of these, then you may know a future recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution. CDSS is now looking for nominations for next year’s award, and we’d love to hear from you. Nominations for the 2022 award are now open, so please visit for more information and to make a nomination. The nominating period is open until March 31.

The 2021 award for David Kaynor will be celebrated at an online event later this spring, so stay tuned for further details on that soon. The 2020 award celebration for Kate Barnes, scheduled for September 2020, was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic and will be rescheduled when it is safe to hold in-person dance events.

Dena Ross JenningsDr. Dena Jennings, Physician, Master Naturalist, musician, and lecturer. Photo by Dena Ross Jennings.

Cultural Equity Advisory Group Facilitator Hired

We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for nominations for our Cultural Equity Advisory Group! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful people who put themselves forward or nominated others. We know we have a lot of work to do to fully realize our commitment to cultural equity, but seeing the depth of talent and passion in our communities makes us believe that we can do it.

We are pleased to announce that we have hired Dr. Dena Ross Jennings to be the group’s facilitator. Dena is helping us select the rest of the group, and will then guide us through this process over the next year. We are extremely excited to be working with her. Dena Ross Jennings is a human rights activist, musician, instrument-maker, and a physician, and brings more than 20 years of experience working on conflict transformation with her organization Imani Works.

Learn more about Dena’s work.

Web Chat Update

Since all music, dance, and song communities will continue to evolve as the pandemic unfolds, we’re waiting to see which needs are most urgent before planning our next Web Chat. Visit for the latest updates, as well as materials and videos of all previous CDSS Web Chats. Feel free to send questions to

Poem: The Dance Floor

By Beth Harvey

Where are you?
The dust keeps settling.

I keep waiting for the creak and tap as you move across the room.
To hear the click of the light switch and feel the light pour down on us.

I keep waiting to be swept up. Shouldn’t the fiddle be starting soon?

Shouldn’t I be collecting the kids, ready for their twirls and running games?
Shouldn’t we be collapsing into each other in laughter now?

As I meet and greet everyone entering, the footstep gathering of a crowd.

I keep waiting for the call for partners. Waiting to support the lines of you.
Waiting in anticipation of this next dance.

I’m ready.
I’m ready for the swirl.
Ready for that shush of shuffles we create together.
Those stomps and chugs and taps.

Dip down to me now.

But it’s dark. And the dust keeps settling.
The only sounds are my own pops and creaks
as the swelling of the summer humidity
turns to shrinking of this cold dark winter.

I am waiting.

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