What We Believe

Your testimonies on the importance of dance, music and song in your life. Submit your own story here.

robinWhat We Believe: Robin Gustafson

I believe in country, dance, song, and society.

Country: I believe that the “country” in our name refers to something that originates in the country (any country), rather than in the town or the city. A country style is a style without adornment; it is a simple style and is affordable to anyone who lives nearby. “Country” style is usually not authored, but grows organically from deep roots and changes over time. “Country” also refers to events that show up locally, in your very own neighborhood. A country event is a local, non-professional informally participatory event, accessible to anyone who lives nearby.

craigmeltznerWhat We Believe: Craig Meltzner

I believe participatory dance and song is a cure for shyness.

Nearly one of two Americans claims to be shy. I was a shy adolescent, particularly in social settings. During high school I never dated nor attended a school dance. I couldn’t imagine asking a girl to dance or singing as part of a group.

Fast forward — for the past 25 years, I’ve been an avid contra and English Country dancer. Now it’s the easiest thing in the world to walk up to a stranger and ask if s/he’d like to dance. Most of the time, of course, the answer is “yes”. And if the answer is “sorry”, I don’t feel rejected, I just move on to the next person! I relish joining a song circle at camp get-togethers or workshops. It’s wonderful to feel included and connected, whether at my home dance or someplace new.

What We Believe: Jolaine Jones-Pokorney

jolaine2Adults at Play

Play is essential. Children know it, but many adults have forgotten. Contra Dancing (and other forms of community dancing) is adults at play. I am loosed from the constraints of acting like an adult and get to revisit the playful abandon of childhood. The contra dance community creates a world where playful clothing, jewelry, make-up are allowed and encouraged, no matter your gender. We create a safe space for physical contact with other people. I get to let my body respond to live music played by dear friends.

What We Believe: Rima Dael

Building Family

karanaI believe that dance, music and song build family and community.

I grew up dancing, singing and acting. My husband swears he fell in love with me watching me on stage. I trained professionally to be an actress in musical theatre and as a stage manager before becoming a nonprofit administrator and teaching nonprofit management. Many of you know that I grew up overseas in Southeast Asia. I was introduced to square dancing in Thailand, English country dance through cotillion classes in Hong Kong, morris dancing by the Hong Kong Morris Men, contra dancing at summer camp in Interlocken in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, and again in college at Mount Holyoke. I continued to dance, sing and act through college and summer theatre in Western Massachusetts, then continued a professional career in theatre administration. Dance, music and song have always been a part of my life. The arts are an important part of my life and my family’s life.

What We Believe: Robert Cox

robertcoxI take great joy in the encounter of each participant of the dance. It is so enjoyable to be with those that dance and the musicians that create the musical atmosphere for the dancers. I revel in being with ALL the participants; being in harmony while dancing. It is such fun to experience all the smiles, laughs, winks, surprises, stomps, screams of wild delight, and so much more.

My first exposure to American Folk dancing was at The University of Chicago Folk Festival, where on a whim, I attended a flatfooting workshop with Masha Goodman. Towards the end of the workshop, there was a square dance.

What We Believe: Eileen O'Grady

eileenThe Good That Comes From Opportunity

The room glows golden with warmth and the bustle and chatter of a friendly crowd. Old friends greet each other, arriving cold and breathless through the door, quickly shedding coats and lacing up their dance shoes. Onstage we lay down the beat, testing our microphones and getting the feel of the music under our fingers. The anticipation grows as the eager crowd multiplies in the dance hall. Then the caller steps up to the microphone and everyone joins hands in two long lines down the center of the hall to await instructions. The piano gives four beats and the dancers are off, dipping and swaying, sashaying and stomping in a whirl of color and sound. My bow dances across the fiddle strings as the caller’s voice weaves in and out through the intricate blend of mandolin chords, fiddle harmonies and grooving bass lines from the cello. One dance follows another late into the night, as a community comes together to twirl and spin, laugh and perspire together.