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!

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