We Are All CDSS

Brad Foster, Executive & Artistic Director Emeritus

bradfosterI send my heartfelt congratulations on this momentous Centennial of our founding. This is a great opportunity to look both back to the past and forward to the future. I’ve always been fascinated by the history of CDSS, the founding and early years, the huge growth and change brought during May Gadd’s long tenure, and the great growth and further change during my own tenure. Now I watch with great interest as a new era unfolds. I love seeing how things change — new talent, new interests and adaptations, old repertoire being replaced by new, old understandings of history being supplanted with new knowledge. One of the biggest changes I've seen has been from the era of doing things the "correct" and seemingly only way of the classic Cecil Sharp English dance reconstructions, the contra and square chestnuts, and the old traditional songs — all within a very limited repertoire — to the modern era of immense and active innovation, and the explosion of wonderful new compositions. I love knowing the history behind a dance, tune or song, respecting and honoring that tradition, and I also love seeing things grow and evolve and dancing and singing the latest creations. We live in a wonderful and vibrant community now, helped along by the pioneering work of so many wonderful people before us.

CDSS has an excellent office staff, providing support, sales, information, advice and running camps and other events. And it has a great board, guiding the work of the organization. But CDSS is more than that. I remember one evening early in my tenure, when the office was still in New York City and I still felt like an outsider from the boondocks (having recently moved from California). I went to the dance in NYC and talked with someone who’d driven probably 20 miles in from New Jersey. She surprised me by saying "I’m from the boondocks," and I thought "What do you mean? You are from headquarters!" But that suddenly reminded me of comments I’d heard from people when I lived in California as well as from others I met in my travels, comments that amounted to "I’m from the boondocks" and "CDSS is somewhere else." I realized that being "from the boondocks" was a state of mind, not created by geography. If even someone 20 miles from headquarters is "from the boondocks," then we all are, but at the same time we’re all part of CDSS regardless of where we are from.

I invite you all to adopt the state of mind that we, the people all over the U.S., Canada and elsewhere, who love to dance, play music and sing, are all CDSS. We do the important local work. Some of us do the important work of organizing events. And all of us contribute mightily by our participation. CDSS wouldn’t exist without the interest and participation of so many people.

CDSS is very important to me. I’m proud to be a member, proud to have made my own financial contribution to support the anniversary fund drive, and I’ll be part of celebratory activities later this year. Please join me and participate in your own way and own time in celebration of CDSS’s Centennial.

photo of Brad Foster by Marty Stock