“A week of music and dance and song, of love and beauty―heavenly!”

–Cathy Arps
June 18-25, 2022 // Lexington, MI
Variety is the Spice of Camp

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Program Description

There’s something for you at Dance, Music & Spice! Join us on the shores of Lake Huron for a week of dancing, singing, playing music, and exploring nature.

This week is also host to Contra Dance Musicians Course led by Noah VanNorstrand and Alex Sturbaum, that requires pre-application and acceptance.

Extraordinary Staff, Fabulous Program

David Millstone, Jacqui Grennan, and Gaye Fifer will delight you with a lovely mix of contras, squares, English dances, and waltzing. Noah VanNorstrand, Aaron Marcus, Jonathan Werk, and Sarah Spaeth will conjure glorious melodies, rich harmonies and lively improvisations to send you into dance ecstasy. In addition to dancing, you’ll have opportunities during the day to join our staff in making music with band and singing classes and a daily old-time jam. Jacqui will lead our daily community gathering.

If dance and music aren’t really your thing, the week has lots of other offerings, both indoors and out. This year’s activities include outdoor adventures with the Cavell staff  (kayaking, tree climbing, etc.), as well as Moth-style storytelling, singing, and the art project of the day!

And if that’s not enough, every day will feature an assortment of camper-led sessions. We don’t know what these will be yet… what would you like to add to the mix?

Dance Terminology

We are using a variety of terminology to emphasize that one’s gender is not actually tied to which role you dance. We hope this change empowers dancers to explore their role preferences, whether it’s a stylistic choice, injury-related, or simply exploration. Throughout the week, we welcome questions, constructive feedback, and open-minded discussion about terminology. Having safe spaces to ask questions is important!

Gorgeous Setting

The beauty of Camp Cavell is absolutely breathtaking. The sunrises and moonrises over Lake Huron have to be seen to be believed… and you can see them from the dance hall.. The beauty of the natural surroundings will give you the opportunity to step away from daily life and enjoy being a part of the camp community.

Join Us!

Come join the fun in whatever way is most authentic for you. Camp is both a great place to renew friendships and to learn new skills. Whether this is your first time at camp or your tenth, you are welcome here.

~Gaye & Rachel Fifer, Program Directors


Class Descriptions

Period 1

Advanced ECD – David Millstone with Aaron Marcus, Sarah Spaeth, and Jonathan Werk

While exploring more complex dances, we’ll look at ways to improve our dancing: posture, movement, flow, zest, connection, confidence. Not all dances will be brain busters but some during the week may require any sleeping neurons to pay attention. Prerequisites: familiarity with standard English country dance figures, ability to recover from mistakes, helpful attitude, and a sense of humor

The Arty Part of Spice: Botanical Monoprinting – Diane Sutliff

Monoprinting is a process which begins when a surface is inked and marks or impressions are made into the ink. A piece of paper is pressed onto that surface and the transfer of ink creates a single print. The first print pulled from that surface is clear and distinct. It is also possible to pull a second, more subtle transfer which is sometimes referred to a as a “ghost print”. A single print takes only minutes, and layering the transfers one over another allows for lots of interplay between color, shape and texture. We will gather plants (leaves, grasses, foliage, seeds) from all around Camp Cavell to use in our printmaking. Using both first prints and ghost prints, we can capture the shapes and botanical details of individual plants. Our specific ecosystem will make these prints unique as to season and place, and our color choices can capture the time of day and weather. During the week, campers can spend unlimited time in the print shop. There will be multiple print stations and a wide variety of inks, including metallics. Wear clothes that don’t matter!

Outdoor activities led by the Camp Cavell staff

Period 2

Morning Mélange Contras – Jacqui Grennan with Kelsey Wells and Alex Sturbaum – Larks & Robins

Jump start your day with a mix of smooth, satisfying and stimulating contras. A dash of unusual choreography, a heaping spoonful of flow, and a whole bunch of sweet and spicy music are the makings of great morning.

Moth-style Storytelling – Renee Brachfeld

A fun, thought provoking, and community building exploration of personal storytelling. We will follow the Moth style of personal stories told live without notes. Through games, exercises, and guided practice, there will be ample opportunity for everyone to identify and share their own stories. Renee creates a fun and safe environment where stories arise naturally. No previous storytelling experience necessary, although those with experience or a story they already want to tell will also have a great time. Join us for a great experience of listening and sharing. This class has been offered to rave reviews at other camps – come feel the magic for yourself!

Contra Dance Musicians Course – Alex Sturbaum and Noah VanNorstrand

By pre-registration only: Contra Dance Musicians Course

Outdoor activities led by the Camp Cavell staff

Period 3

ECD for All – David Millstone with Aaron Marcus, Sarah Spaeth, and Jonathan Werk

English Country Dance offers exceptional variety—formations, figures, meter and mood—all set to beautiful music. We’ll pay particular attention to these variables and how our bodies (and brains) respond. Early in the week, we’ll introduce basic figures so that everyone can dance; more experienced dancers will enjoy the opportunity to revisit favorites, to learn some unfamiliar dances, and to welcome newcomers into this dance world.

Camp Choir – Jamie Bunce

Come learn a variety of choral pieces and perform them as a choir for camp later in the week! We’ll explore diverse works from around the world and from different time periods and will rehearse and perform them in a way that honors the cultures and traditions from which they have arisen. Possibilities include everything from Haitian standards to contemporary “classical” pieces to pavanes (i.e. dances!) from 16th century France.  As we sing, you’ll learn some tips and tricks for finding and developing your own uniquely beautiful voice while upping your ensemble singing game. Some of these tips may or may not involve kazoos. (Spoiler alert: they will.)  All are welcome!

One-shot: The Art of the Joke – Alex Sturbaum

Spend some time with Alex and join a discussion about how to learn new jokes, how to remember them, how to develop your own style of joke recitation, and how to read the room and tell the right joke at the right moment.

Contra Dance Musicians Course – Alex Sturbaum and Noah VanNorstrand

By pre-registration only: Contra Dance Musicians Course

Period 4

Contras with Spice – Jacqui Grennan with Kelsey Wells, Alex Sturbaum, and Noah VanNorstrand – Gendered terminology

Hands four, hands eight, 5 couples, 9 people – no matter what shape these dances come in, you can count on there being tasty music, interesting flavors and figures, and lots of satisfying connection with your partners, neighbors, and all your buddies.

Old Time Jam

An all instruments-welcome Old Time Jam. Join us in playing Old Time tunes, where Old Time is open to our collective interpretation.

Period 5

Waltz – Gaye Fifer

We will focus on beyond-the-basic waltz steps, with an emphasis on the nuances of clear leading and aware following. The goal is to build confidence and competence while having fun! Gaye believes that waltzing is not only about fancy moves and twirls, but first and foremost, about connecting with the music and with your partner. No partner necessary.

Country Dance History – David Millstone

Contras, squares, and English country dance form a complex braid. In this weeklong series of talks, we’ll explore everything from 17th century court dances to foot-stompin’ hoedowns, from Jane Austen to contra chestnuts to Texas cowboys… and much more! Daily presentations will include videos, audio clips, photographs, and plenty of time for questions and discussion. You’ll come away with a solid picture of how these dance forms evolved and the key figures who revived them during the 20th century.

One-shot: Community Inclusion Conversation with Aaron Marcus and Alex Sturbaum

We all have a need to belong; it can really hurt to feel like you don’t belong in a community you deeply care about.  How do we create dance culture and dance spaces that include all of our community, and that affirm all our experiences?  What is the history of gender roles in our traditional dances and how do we see those changing over time? How can we work across our differences to build a stronger and more welcoming community?

Camper-led classes & activities

Contra Dance Musicians Course

Course Leaders

Noah VanNorstrand & Alex Sturbaum

Program Description

This course is an opportunity for intermediate to advanced musicians to dive deeply into what it takes to play for contra dance. Through discussion, exercises, and experience, we’ll look at what a contra dance needs from musicians, including:

  • Tempo
  • Rhythm
  • Phrasing
  • Creativity
  • Sounding good
  • Exploring chords and textures
  • Matching tunes to dances
  • Playing in an ensemble

We’ll hone our skills at listening to and locking in with our bandmates and improvising on the fly while still supporting the dancers. These skills are relevant to both developing your own band’s sound and to being an effective player in an open band or pick-up band.

We’ll meet for two hour-long periods each day, sometimes all together and sometimes breaking out into smaller ensembles for specific exercises. The rest of the day and evening, you’ll have full access to Dance, Music & Spice Week.