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

–Cathy Arps
June 17-24, 2023 // Lexington, MI
Variety is the Spice of Camp

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Hands four

Program Description

Started in 2016, Dance Music & Spice at Camp Cavell is CDSS’s Midwestern summer dance camp program. It includes select traditional folk music, dance, and song activities from Western Europe and encompasses a wide range of related activities. The intention is to serve those interested in said folk traditions, with the emphasis being on a strong English & contra dance program. Our theme for the week is “Joy is a world changing force”.

Join us at Camp Cavell, on the shores of Lake Huron, for a week of dancing, music, singing, art, and outdoor activities led by world-class instructors. Hone your skills, learn new ones, or just revel in the opportunity to do things you love with like-minded people.

From quiet sunrise to late-night campfires, expect to be delighted. Come prepared to expand your horizons and to be amazed by the creativity and talent of staff and campers alike. We welcome newcomers, experts and everyone in between. Join us for an unforgettable week of friendship and joy.

Extraordinary Staff, Fabulous Program

Our staff leads the way in expanding horizons. They dance, call, teach, play, sing, and have hidden talents.  And they’re fun to hang out with, too.

Melissa Running & River Abel will delight you with a lovely mix of contras, squares & English dances.  Karen Axelrod, Audrey Knuth, Ben Schreiber, Mike Sokolovsky, Sarah Hadley Yakir, and Jacob Chen will conjure glorious melodies, rich harmonies and lively improvisations to send us into dance ecstasy. In addition to dancing to their music, you’ll have opportunities during the day to join our staff in making music with a daily old-time jam. Annie Fain will teach banjo and flatfooting. Heidi will lead a camp-wide singing class. Jeremy Carter-Gordon will teach rapper dance and Balfolk, as well as lead our daily community gathering.

This week is host to Community Sing Leaders Intensive course, an intensive, 2 classes/day program led by Heidi Wilson, that requires pre-application and acceptance.

If you’d like to take a break from dance and music for a bit, or even spend your entire day doing other things, we have other offerings, indoors and out. This year’s outdoor activities feature two class periods in the morning with staff from Camp Cavell (kayaking, tree climbing, etc.), as well as book-making with Annie Fain!

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

Campers gathered around a bonfire on the beach

Dance Terminology

We will use gender-neutral terms in order to create a supportive space for all gender identities and role-preferences in our community.  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 sunrises and moonrises over Lake Huron have to be seen to be believed – and you can see them from the dance hall. Camp community is focused on the here and now – The rustic camp surroundings emphasize the opportunity to take a break from daily habits, intrusions and responsibilities, replacing those with direct person to person exchanges in real time. Cell phones and email are at least hidden if not abandoned, and energy is, instead, focused on being part of, and supporting, this community.

Join Us!

The staff is just the foundation of this camp; you’re the ones who make it happen! The only prerequisite is a willingness to join in the fun in whatever way is most authentic for you. Camp is both a great place to renew friendships and to learn new skills. New folks are encouraged to jump right in— this inclusive community is excited to embrace you. See you on the shores of Lake Huron!

~Gaye & Rachel Fifer, Program Directors

Class Descriptions

Period 1

Advanced ECD: Only Connect! – Melissa Running with Karen Axelrod and Audrey Knuth

Come explore ECD connections: to the form, to the music, to each other, to yourself. What allows you to connect best with all those elements, and what makes it truly yours? We’ll do some familiar things, some less so, with a range of complexity that starts and ends a bit “more so” than the for-all class.

Bookarts: Make a Book a Day – Annie Fain Barralon

Come rest your feet awhile and make a collection of amazingly varied, mixed-media, small scale book structures that can be used as gifts, personalized journals, simple photo-albums or even songbooks. No previous experience needed and you don’t have to come each day (we will do a different book each day!) $7 Materials Fee payable at first class.

Community Sing Leaders Intensive – Heidi Wilson

By pre-registration only: Community Sing Leaders Intensive

Outdoor activities led by the Camp Cavell staff

Period 2

Rockin’ and Rollin’ Contra Warm-up – River Abel with Ben Schreiber and Mike Sokolovsky

We’ll dance a variety of easy, fun, accessible contra dances for as many as will.

Discover Bal Folk! – Jeremy Carter-Gordon with Karen Axelrod

Enter into the exciting and entrancing world of French folk dances and be careful not to get addicted! A diverse set of dances that include couples turning dances, set dances, circle dances and more! You will learn dances like mazurka, hanter dro, bourée, rondo, schottishe, and more. To come and get a head start on what may be the next folk dance craze in the US bring dance shoes, and excitement, no french required!

Clawhammer Banjo from Scratch – Annie Fain Barralon

Have a banjo lying around that you’ve always wanted to learn to play?  Get started from the beginning, from how to hold and tune the instrument to chord positions.  Approach learning tunes by ear and get an introduction to playing in different keys.  Return home with some great tunes under your belt and the tools to expand your repertoire on your own.  BYOB—that’s Bring Your Own Banjo!

Outdoor activities led by the Camp Cavell staff

Period 3

ECD for All – Melissa Running with Audrey Knuth &

Come play! We’ll dance old favorites and new, simple and more complex, different speeds and styles and energies–something for everyone.

Rapper 101 – Jeremy Carter-Gordon

Get ready for rapper sword dancing, an exciting, fast-paced sword dance from northern England. In the class we will learn the percussive stepping, traditional and newly created figures, and how to move and work together as a team, getting ready to put together a dance with your new skills.  Bring hard-soled shoes if you have them and get ready for some excitement!

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.

Community Sing Leaders Intensive – Heidi Wilson

By pre-registration only: Community Sing Leaders Intensive

Period 4

Advanced Contra Mix-n-match! – River Abel with Ben Schreiber and Mike Sokolovsky

We’ll keep you on your toes as we play and call contra dances of various skill levels with some no walk-throughs, medleys, unpredictable progressions, and plenty of challenges.

Singing for All – Heidi Wilson

Description coming soon!

Flatfooting/Clogging – Annie Fain Barralon

Does listening to lively old-time music make you want to jump out of your seat and dance? It only takes knowing a few steps to dance to your heart’s content and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing during this week of Appalachian style, percussive dance. Join a North Carolina native, who has been dancing her entire life, for a good time learning a variety of basic steps and short routines to live music. For all levels.

Period 5

Camper-led classes & activities

Registration and Fees

The fee for the week is $1,000.

Camp fees cover all accommodation, meals from dinner on the arrival day to breakfast on the departure day, and all of the various dance, music, and song events in the program. 

You can find more information about the registration process here. If you need financial assistance in order to attend, please go to our scholarships page.

Staff

Ben Schreiber

Cascade of Music & Dance, Dance Music & Spice
Ben Schreiber

Audrey Leigh Jaber

Dance Music & Spice, Family Week at Agassiz Village
Audrey Leigh Jaber

Melissa Running

Dance Music & Spice
Melissa Running

River Abel

Dance Music & Spice
River Abel

Heidi Wilson

Dance Music & Spice
Heidi Wilson

Jacob Chen

Dance Music & Spice
Jacob Chen

Jeremy Carter-Gordon

Dance Music & Spice
Jeremy Carter-Gordon

Rachel Fifer

Dance Music & Spice, Program Directors
Rachel Fifer

Karen Axelrod

Dance Music & Spice, Family Week at Agassiz Village, Family Week at Pinewoods, Harmony of Song & Dance
Karen Axelrod

Gaye Fifer

Dance Music & Spice, English Dance Week, Program Directors
Gaye Fifer

Michael Sokolovsky

Dance Music & Spice
Michael Sokolovsky

Sarah-Hadley Yakir

Dance Music & Spice
Sarah-Hadley Yakir

Annie Fain Barralon

Dance Music & Spice
Annie Fain Barralon