July 20-27, 2019 // Plymouth, MA

Dance, sing, play, repeat: party in the woods!

Program Description

Contra! Blues! Waltz! Pub and folk sing! American Dance & Music Week is heaven for both dancers and players as some of the finest callers and musicians gather to share their expertise. This week features a wide variety of exciting opportunities, from classes geared towards skill building and technique, to delightfully engaging workshops for more relaxed enjoyment. Plus we have the 5th period “Hot Shots” session, designed for campers to lead their own innovative workshops.

Most importantly, we all work together to create a fun, safe and satisfying community experience.

Check out the Class Descriptions for details about the classes we have planned, and here’s a taste:

  • Exciting social dance: Blues, intermediate waltz technique, East Coast swing, Sean Nós, contras, “tea cup” squares, and English country.
  • Making music: Fiddle repertoire, ensemble techniques, cool tunes session with Max Newman, lots of jamming and two singing workshops, plus sight reading for singers.
  • Creative expression: Hot Shots (the open fifth period—we already have plans for Dutch Crossing, bug songs, drawing, night club dance moves and more), and a daily gathering to showcase the talents of both campers and staff.

And finally, there’s a great evening dance every night, along with informal social gatherings and parties. Folks come from all over the country, and we have a great time dancing and playing together. Join us!

We will be joined by the Sierra Club, with 20 people using camp as their home base while they do service work with the Wildlands Trust. They will eat with us and, during their off hours, they will join us for dancing, swimming and socializing.

~ Lisa Greenleaf, Program Director


Program Director

Lisa Greenleaf


  • Armand Aromin
  • Jesse Ball
  • Kate Barnes
  • Lise Brown
  • Mark David Buckles
  • Benedict Gagliardi
  • Scott Higgs
  • Matthew Kenney
  • Dave Langford
  • Ari Levitt
  • Julie Metcalf*
  • Max Newman*
  • Sarah VanNorstrand
  • Everest Witman

* Program Advisor, plus:
Steve Howe

Class Descriptions


Synced Up Contras – Sarah VanNorstrand

Music by: Julie Metcalf, Jesse Ball, Everest Witman, Matt Kenney: How do dancers connect with each other? How can we become better partners, neighbors and community dancers, while elevating our own dance experience? We’ll focus on the things that can bring us together, including sharing weight, an ingrained sense of timing, and finding those moments of connection hidden in the choreography. All while dancing, of course!

Swing Dance Your Socks Off – Ari Levitt

Music by: Dave Langford, Kate Barnes, Lise Brown: In this class, we’ll quickly review basic dance and partnering concepts of swing, then learn some fabulous new East Coast Swing variations from Ari’s repertoire of fun, playful dance moves. CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE to see examples of swing dance. (All levels welcome)

Singers: The Soul of Solfège – Mark David Buckles

The Soul of Solfège will be a singing (and hearing!) class where we utilize the building blocks of solfège syllables to sing (and, more importantly, understand) melodies, harmonies, and written sheet music. We will play singing and listening games, improve our ability to sight sing (and know what we’re hearing), and learn canons, folk music, pop songs, and even some Renaissance music. All levels welcome!

A Little Bittle Old Time Fiddle – Armand Aromin

Don’t mind the nonsensical title, I just wanted to get your attention! In this class, we’ll play and talk about what makes Old Time fiddle Old Time fiddle. We’ll learn tunes (including some from Rhode AND Long Islands!), how to adapt non-Old Time melodies to fit the style, and even learn a couple of flat-foot steps (pending risk of heat exhaustion). Now, you might think to yourself, “Oh, I play Old Time tunes, but… they don’t sound like Old Time tunes.” Fear you not, Padawan, for my bow hand, a former Olympian gymnast and circus runaway, will show you the way.


Beautiful Waltz (int) – Ari Levitt

Music by: Everest Witman, Jesse Ball: Learn to twirl effortlessly and glide across the floor with the ever-popular waltz. In this class, after reviewing the basics, we’ll quickly move on to slightly more intermediate-level material, introducing such elegant and flowing combinations as grapevine turns, orbitals, and double dutches. CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE to see examples of cross-step waltz. (Non-novice beg/int – some social dance experience required)

Teacup Squares – Lisa Greenleaf

Music by: Julie Metcalf, Max Newman: A workshop brimming with variations on the iconic Tea Cup Chain, as well as other unusual figures from square dance tradition. This is a cumulative workshop, so plan on coming the first day to get the foundations for a fun and satisfying week of square dancing.

Pinewoods Big Band – Lise Brown

This large group session will focus on how to play as an ensemble, creating sounds which accompany and support the lead melody players with harmony or nice back-up lines. We’ll have fun creating these new parts, or you can come and play melody with a big band. Geared mostly for melody players, but rhythm section players (piano, guitar, bass) are welcome! May or may not involve learning some music theory, depending on the goals of class members.

Old Music of RI (singing!) – Armand Aromin, Benedict Gagliardi

“It’s probably just a bunch of songs about mobsters and… lobsters,” you may assume. While it’s not untrue, we do have more to offer! It is the norm for folk music aficionados to learn and share music from far-off places, but we’re here to demonstrate that a deep dive into one’s local history can turn up plenty of great material as well. This will be a semi-scholarly but participatory showcase of old songs and tunes from the State of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations. We’ll share old ballads and broadsides concerning Little Rhody’s long history, instrumental tunes with Ocean State origins, and folk song variants collected from Rhode Islanders by folklorists and ballad hunters such as Helen Hartness Flanders. We’ll discuss what a “local song” might be and share methods and resources for uncovering and reviving old local music. Like a good ol’ pot of Rhode Island clam chowder, it’ll clearly be a feast for the eyes and ears!


Challenging Contras – Sarah VanNorstrand

Music by: Jesse Ball, Everest Witman, Matt Kenney: Want a little challenge in your life? We’ll seek it together with dances that surprise, delight, confound and occasionally befuddle. We’ll use Lark/Raven as the role terms for this session.

Enchanting English Dance – Scott Higgs

Music by: Julie Metcalf, Kate Barnes, Max Newman: A joyful banquet of favorites, featuring a wide range of styles and moods. Selected dances will be accessible to all, yet offer special delights for experienced dancers to savor. Beautiful music, courtesy of Kate, Julie and Max.

Pub Sing – Benedict Gagliardi, Armand Aromin

Congratulations on your immediate admittance to this non-academic institution! Professor Gagliardi will share his peer-reviewed and accepted approach to a good pub sing (=public social singing event). There are no universal rules for this type of gathering, but we have learned a few things over the years about what makes a successful and enjoyable ‘pub sing’ (i.e., not a ballad swap). Most of this workshop will be committed to singing songs and learning choruses but we will also digress into discussions and anecdotes based on our observations and experiences with our own sings in RI as well as conversations with other singers. We will try to touch upon many of the following topics: *Round-robin vs. free-for-all: which is best when? *Song hogs, lulls, and shy singers? Oh, my! *Reading the room and staying socially conscious *How to tastefully deal with uncomfortable, confusing, and misinterpretable lyrics *And of course: A Short Rant on the Evils of the Zombifying Cell Phone.

Learn Tunes By Ear – Dave Langford

We will spend the week learning tunes by ear by breaking them down into small manageable pieces, and then gradually stringing those pieces together until we have the entire tune. All tunes will be revisited every day with the goal of having a solid repertoire of new tunes memorized by the end of the week! Related topics such as chord theory are possible as an aid to more effective learning. All instruments are welcome.


The Art of Blues Dancing – Ari Levitt

Music by: Dave Langford, Kate Barnes, Matt Kenney, Lise Brown: Blues is one of the funnest and coolest styles to hit the dance scene, focusing much more on partnering, musicality, energy, and improv than on rote steps or patterns. In this class you’ll not only learn how to co-create and communicate movement on the dance floor, but also learn new skills to allow for more deliciousness, trust, creativity, and effortless play with your partner. (All levels welcome)

Sean Nós – Armand Aromin

Music by: Benedict Gagliardi: Meaning “old way” in Irish, this style of dance is percussive in nature, improvisatory, and pre-dates the modern Irish step dancing that many would be familiar with today (if you’re not, then you must be a steampunk time traveler; I am jealous.) The footwork remains close to the floor and the upper body is relaxed. In this class, we’ll learn basic vocabulary and steps, eventually progressing to more advanced moves and learn how to interact with the music, and even do some improvisation (very spooky, I know). So, leave the wigs and fake tan in your cabin, and let’s let the feet do the talking! My associate, Benedict Gagliardi, will provide a musical feast for the ears, performing on a pu-pu platter of various toe pickles*, tin sandwiches*, and blues burgers*. *Harmonicas

Traditions Music Session – Max Newman

Every day we will get into the groove along one tradition of fiddle music, gently defined. Old-time, New England, Quebecois, Irish. All instruments and beverages welcome.

Craft Your Calling – Sarah VanNorstrand

This class is geared towards intermediate callers who are looking to hone their craft in a supportive setting. We will focus on the details that can help take your calling to the next level, including building versatile repertoire, creating an effective beginners’ workshop, working with bands of all shapes and sizes, and developing your identity as a caller.


Period 5: Hot Shots: One-time Offerings – Lisa Greenleaf

The last period of the day will be the most creative: All workshop ideas welcome, from crafts to couple dancing to jamming, singing and juggling! Bring your ideas to camp, or contact Lisa ahead of time.