August 7-14 2021 // Plymouth, MA

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

Program Description

American Dance & Music Week at Pinewoods gathers folks from around the country to learn and have a mighty fine time together. Whether you’re just dipping a toe in the water, or you’re an experienced dancer and player, this week will provide all kinds of contra and contra-adjacent activities for you to explore. From Bal folk to Blues, from harmony singing to hot squares, this week will keep you moving and learning in a wonderful community.

Every afternoon we get together at Gathering to hear mini-concerts from staff and enjoy humorous presentations. Then, folks gather at the shady Raccoon Bar for tunes, conversations, and drinks (non-alcoholic options heartily welcomed). Every evening, we come together in an open air pavilion to dance to glorious music. To keep up with the times, this year we’ll be using Larks/Robins for contras and Ladies/Gents for squares.

This is a week for singers, too.

One of the best things about camp is that you have many opportunities to debut and put yourself out there! Campers’ Night on Wednesday means that the evening dance is run entirely by campers calling and playing. There are after-parties every night full of singing and dancing, many informally led. And then, there will be a daily “hot-shots” session where anyone can lead a one-shot workshop on a topic of interest. Think outside the box – storytelling? Plant identification? Synchronized swimming? ECD?

American Week will also host a Contra Dance Caller’s Course, facilitated by Gaye Fifer. This course will bring emerging callers to our dance floors and stages, adding a level of thoughtfulness about dance that will enrich our session in numerous ways.

The people and the classes are thrilling enough. But really this is just the tip of the iceberg! What none of us can see yet, what we can only imagine, is all that miraculous energy that emerges when a great community of people get together. Perhaps you’ll find yourself playing tunes with your feet in a pond, or star-gazing with a new best friend, or singing into a microphone for the first time.

The week is yours. Be there. 

~ Emily Troll, Program Director


Program Director

Emily Troll


  • Cis Hinkle
  • Jeremiah McLane
  • Max Newman
  • Anna Patton
  • Ben Sachs-Hamilton
  • Gaye Fifer
  • Mary Lauren Fraser
  • Alyssa Adkins
  • Clayton Jennings
  • Julie Friend
  • Eric Boodman
  • Dave Langford
  • Yann Falquet
  • Cedar Stanistreet

Class Descriptions


Movement Improvement with Tai Chi Qigong – Cis Hinkle

With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, qigong is a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi), translated as “life energy”. Come learn how to use some of these gentle and powerful movements to enhance your dance experience with more flexibility, strength, balance, and flow. You’ll feel better at the end of class than when you came in, guaranteed!


Morning song

Period 1

Good Neighbor Contras – Ben Sachs-Hamilton

Music by: Cedar Stanistreet, Max Newman, Dave Langford: We all want to be supportive partners and neighbors on the dance floor, but don’t often get the chance to explore what that really means. In this class we’ll get our morning contra fix while practicing the skills of communication, flexibility and recovery that go into being a “good neighbor.”

Old-Time Harmony Singing – Mary Fraser

We will look at what makes harmony and how to find a harmony part to a song you may never have sung or even heard. We’ll learn some duets and trios from old time and early country singing and practice finding the harmonies typical of that era and genres of music.

Ukulele Jam – Katie Martucci

New songs every day! Learn new tunes across a range of genres. You’ll learn new chords, different stylistic techniques and enjoy the unique sonic experience of dozens of ukuleles playing together.

Contra Callers Course (Pre-registration)

Period 2

Snappy Squares from Mid-Century to the New Millennium – Cis Hinkle

Music by: Mary Fraser, Emily Troll, Max Newman, Julia Friend: In the 1950s, just before rock ‘n’ roll, square dancing swept the country. Creativity and innovation were all the rage, and new moves were invented every day. That inventive spirit is still alive and well among square dance composers today. Come explore some fresh ideas from ‘back in the day’, and contemporary takes on the tradition.

Waltz – Clayton Jennings, Alyssa Adkins

Music by: Eric Boodman, Yann Falquet: Learn to feel comfortable connecting and moving across the waltz floor. We will progress through basic footwork, rotation, connection variations, and fun flourishes that are accessible for everyone. With a balance of instruction and practice, there will be opportunities for both new and experienced dancers to grow their waltz skills. Dancers will be asked to choose a lead or follow role for each lesson, but can feel free to choose different roles between classes.

Swing Harmony – Anna Patton

Learn to sing in tight three-part swing harmony, a la The Boswell Sisters and The Mills Brothers. We’ll learn a few arrangements of swing standards and dive into some of the theory so students understand how to hear and sing their own harmonies.

Bal Folk: Qu’est ce que c’est? – Jeremiah McLane

We’ll learn some of the classic Bal Folk repertoire: 3 count bourrées, some 5/4 waltzes, a bit o’ schottishe, a mazurka and a smattering of Breton dances. And more bourrées a trios temps. On day two we’ll attempt….just kidding! For all instruments…..

Period 3

Mindbending Contras (and more) – Cis Hinkle

Music by: Jeremiah McLane, Max Newman, Dave Langford: For those who want a little more spice in their dancing experience, we’ll explore some tricky moves, unexpected twists, and challenging timing in a variety of dance formations.

Quebecois Session Repertoire – Yann Falquet

Yann will teach awesome tunes (some common, some less) that will make you very popular at your next French Canadian session. Tunes will be taught on mandolin and button accordion. All instruments welcome!

Spectacular Pub Singing Practicum – Julia Friend

I call this kind of social singing the Vocal Potluck because each person cooks their vocal dish ahead of time, and then everyone gets to taste the chorus even if they don’t know the recipe. We’ll spend most of the workshop singing songs, learning choruses, trying our own harmonies, and practicing leading songs, but we will also discuss things like: * Where to look for songs to learn, * Dealing with nervousness while singing, * Encourage others and reading the energy of the room, * Recognizing when lyrics don’t align with our ethics, and then figuring out how to contextualize confusing lyrics or remove offensive content.

Period 4

Contra Caller’s Dance Party – Gaye Fifer

Music by: Cedar Stanistreet, Yann Falquet, Jeremiah McLane, Eric Boodman: Come get your groove on at our dance party, featuring the talents of the callers course participants. These callers will energize the dance floor and get folks moving to the beat of our fabulous musicians.

Blues – Clayton Jennings, Alyssa Adkins

Music by: Katie Martucci, Anna Patton, Dave Langford: From the ballrooms of Chicago and NY, to the juke joints of the American South, blues dancing is rooted in African American music and traditions. We will cover the basics of two blues dance styles: Jookin and Ballroomin’. Jookin: focusing on rhythmic movement in small spaces, we’ll explore fun footwork and styling to help you party down on the dance floor. Ballroomin’: glide across the floor in this smooth, traveling blues dance. We’ll teach lead/follow dynamics and elegant momentum based movements. Jookin will be taught with switch dance roles and Ballroomin’ dancers will be asked to choose a lead or follow role. 

Old-time Tunes – Mary Fraser

What are the secret ingredients to making dancers jump and holler with joy? We’ll do a combination of tune learning and experimenting with ways to make the music as danceable as possible. Anyone is welcome to listen and learn. Players should be able to play close to dance tempo. Participants will be encouraged to show their skills off at Camper’s Night and the Friday Parade!


Free time for napping, swimming, parties, and one-shot workshops. With the Raccoon Bar open for social time, jamming, and singing.

Contra Dance Callers Course

This Course is an intensive and satisfying workshop designed for advanced-beginner through intermediate callers who are ready to get to the next level. The focus is on two important topics: teaching skills (understanding choreography and building a concise teaching vocabulary) and stage craft (improving performance presence and vocal skills, and collaborating with musicians). If you are excited about calling, you will really enjoy practicing, exploring and learning in this supportive environment.

The course takes place for a solid block in the morning. In the first portion, we cover such topics as teaching more advanced figures, recognizing good choreography, understanding effective walk-throughs and inspiring confidence in your dancers. In the afternoon, there is hands-on experience in the Contra Callers Dance Party, when Course participants work with a live band and call dances from the stage. Each dance is followed by dancer critique using a safe and supportive feedback model. This last session is open to dancers from the wider camp community. The rest of afternoon and evening, participants have full access to the American Dance & Music Week at Pinewoods program.