“It will be, without a doubt, the most fun you’ve had in a long time.”

–Helen Whitty
July 22-29, 2023 // Plymouth, MA
Dance, sing, play, repeat: contra party in the woods!

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Program Description

An Incomparable Week of Contras & Squares, Tunes & Songs, and More!

Come experience a dream week at American Week, featuring a program and staff like no other. Whether you’re just dipping a toe in the water, or you’re an experienced dancer and player, it’s a week full of what you love PLUS the joy of discovering new things and making new friends. Envelop yourself for a week in a participatory, welcoming, pressure-relieving vibe and the relaxing radiance of Pinewoods Camp.

American Week 2023 brings together a charmingly accessible, splendidly supportive, superlatively talented set of teacher-performers. And wraps it all in a schedule that’s going to feel “just right”.

THE CALLING — impeccable and delightful. These contras and squares will leave you more in love with dancing than when you arrived. 

THE MUSIC — soul-filling and varied. We’ve got a galactic Celtic groove and a deep dose of hot-hot-hot old-time. 

PLUS — marvelous singing, joyous jamming, magical stories, visible mending and print-making, the Raccoon Bar social hour and old-time jam, instrumental workshops, late nights, and more!

OUR GOAL — to leave you glad you came; possibly sad (just a little) to leave; and most of all rejuvenated, relaxed, and inspired.

Rejuvenation! Relaxation! Inspiration! Dance and Music Vacation!

Anyone recognizing our staff knows (oh yes!) campers are in for a treat. It’s the real deal. And, excitingly, many of these are folks brand-new to American Week, so we may just introduce some of you to something wonderful and new. 

We’re living the dream at American Week 2023. Rejuvenation. Relaxation. Inspiration. This dream team has it all, except… YOU. So come on in.

~ Max Newman & Julie Metcalf, Program Directors


Class Descriptions

Early Mornings
Morning Song – Yaya Patterson

Warm up your body and your voice with the vocal equivalent of an adaptogenic-ginger-turmeric-oatmilk-latte… thing. Just come if you want to start the day in song. Yaya will bring some songs to share, and you can too.

Voice Coaching – Yaya Patterson

Find Yaya to sign up for a half-hour, one-on-one session. With a warm and encouraging teaching style, Yaya is excited to help you develop your skills and confidence. Whether you are looking to get more comfortable in your singing voice, looking to work up a swing standard for honky-tonk night, or just want someone to bounce ideas off of, this is a wonderful opportunity.

Period 1

Stylish Contras – Lisa Greenleaf with the Syncopaths

Delightful dancing for all, with an emphasis on good connection and satisfying choreography.

The Groove of Old-time Rhythm – Alex Lacquement and Julie Metcalf

Bring an instrument (or at least a foot to tap) to get deep on the rhythmic feel(s) of old-time music. Learn the nuances of boom and chuck, crafting a good bass line, getting in the groove, and stylistic techniques. This workshop is directed especially towards accompanists, but all instruments and levels very welcome.

Honky-Tonkin’ Harmony Singing – Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski

Amy and Mark (aka Golden Shoals) will give us some golden opportunities to explore American roots harmony in 2 and 3 parts — with a smile on your face and a twinkle in the eye. Expect great songs, sweet sounds, and a charmingly fun atmosphere of learning. All experience levels welcome.

Period 2

All the Range: Contras/Squares/Triplets – Will Mentor

Variety is the spice of life and Will likes it SPICY! (Dancers of all levels welcome.)

Flatfooting for All – Jocelyn Haversat with David McKindley-Ward

We’ll cover the basic steps of flatfoot dancing and gradually progress into intermediate and advanced steps. Learn to move and make music to your favorite fiddle tunes. No experience necessary. If you can move, you can dance!

New England Tunes: Forgotten Gems – Benjamin Foss

Tunehound Benjamin Foss has some killer New England tunes to teach. You don’t know how you lived all this time without them!

Magickal World of Blues Song and Story – Yaya Patterson

Explore the magick and spiritual world of blues music. Experience songs and stories from the African diaspora, their journeys and transformation. And enjoy discussion on what meaning these can bring to our current cultural context.

Period 3

Challenging Contras – Maia McCormick & Will Mentor with the Syncopaths

Tickle your brain and your feet with some cool choreography. 

Relief Printmaking for Paper and Fabric – Addie Best

Join printmaker Addie Best to learn the basics of relief printmaking, carving, inking and printing on paper and fabric. You’ll walk away with a sweet little pile of prints and blocks for future use. Donation towards materials requested.

Old-time Repertoire – Amy Alvey

Come fiddles and all instruments to learn and enjoy some old-time tunes!

Period 4

Square Dance Travelogue: Western, New England, and Southern Squares – Will Mentor & Lisa Greenleaf

Square ‘em up with Will and Lisa as they tour the country via squares of all types. We’ll have lots of fun with cool moves you only find in hot squares! All welcome.

Celtic Fiddle Session

Celtic fiddle tunes galore!

Singing the Roots and Branches – Christa Burch

Come lift your voices together! We’ll learn songs from the Irish, Scottish, English, and American folk traditions. Courting, finding love, experiencing loss, being far from dear places and people—they’re universal experiences. We’ll explore these timeless stories together, and play with phrasing, ornamentation, and melodic liberties to help you create sensitive, powerful, individual interpretations when you carry them home. We’ll use lyric sheets and learn the melodies by ear; no formal musical training is necessary. Just bring your curiosity and your voice!

Period 5 and Beyond

Hot Shots

A time for one-offs. This could be dance, song, craft, a walk in the woods, a genre jam session, etc. Most of these will be camper-initiated, so bring your ideas!

Raccoon Bar

Snacks. Beverages (including non-alcoholic). And old-time music. In the key of the day. All are welcome. Just a good old-time