Elke is a veteran dance musician and concert performer, and has played a wide range of styles including contras and squares, English, Scottish, Vintage, and couple dances, at dance events across North America and indeed around the world. She’s a former U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, Washington Conservatory of Music faculty member, and Artist-in-Residence at Montgomery College, and has performed at venerable venues such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and the Birchmere. Her fiddle music was featured in the soundtrack of the film The Boyhood of John Muir. She teaches the joys of fiddle music to countless students, most especially through the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, which she has taught for 24 years. She has recorded a number of listening and dancing albums, most recently Out of the Wood with hammered dulcimer virtuoso Ken Kolodner. Playing for dancers is one of her very favorite things…although dancing runs a close second.
Sam is a nimble, irrepressible performer on guitar, banjo and mandolin. His original compositions have been profiled on NPR¹s All Things Considered, Salon.com, and The Thistle & Shamrock. His evocative musicianship has been featured in the Ken Burns documentaries, Prohibition and The Dustbowl. Sam is known as one of this country’s most engaging dance musicians, and has been crisscrossing the States playing for dances for 30 years. He is also the author of a best-selling book on pranks and parlor tricks, The Best of Stuntology (Workman Publishing). More information can be found at stuntology.com.
Jeremy grew up singing and dancing, and has followed that path into his career. After a year researching sword dances across Europe on a Watson Fellowship, he earned an MA in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage, and just completed a year at the Eric Sahlström Institute for folk music and dance in Sweden. Jeremy sings with Windborne, a quartet that studies and performs polyphonic singing traditions from around the world. He is known for his banjo picking and powerful bass voice, along with a joyous enthusiasm for song and dance.
Rapper 101; Longsword for All; Rapper (de)constructed
David first became involved in CCDS as a kid in the 1960s, is a veteran of such notable mid-Atlantic area dance bands as Evening Star and the Capital Quicksteps Quadrille Orchestra, and has also appeared on the staff of the John C. Campbell Folk School Winter Week. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches audio at Towson University and is an active player in the Baltimore experimental theater scene.
Intermediate/Advanced Dance Band
Eric is a graduate of Berea College, a Fine Arts major in Textiles. His festive banners, paper cuts, and decorations grace Seabury Center at CCDS. He has been making temari for over 20 years. This will be his 14th year of teaching Temari at CCDS.
Beginning Temari Craft; Intermediate Temari Craft
Chrissy grew up in the mountains of East TN and started dancing at age 7. While attending Berea College she was a Country Dancer for 3 years. Shortly after moving to Nashville in 1984 Chrissy combined her music and dance background into a calling career. Now she calls around 120 dances a year all over the southeast and a few places beyond. She is known for her calm, easy manner and fun choice of dances, be they squares, contras, English Country or Singing Games and Silly Songs for all ages.
Squares I Like
Brad has been dancing and teaching English country, contras and squares, and Morris and sword for over forty years. He is well known for sharing the joy found in dance, and has taught throughout the US, Canada and Europe, including at Berea, Pinewoods, Mendocino, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Augusta. He is now Executive and Artistic Director Emeritus of the Country Dance and Song Society, after serving as its Director for 28 years.
Intermediate English Country Dance; English Dance Open Mic/Open Band
Earl is a full-time dance musician who has played violin and viola for a variety of English, Scottish, American, and international dancing for many years. He plays at dance camps, workshops, balls and other dance events throughout the United States and abroad, and he has made twenty-some recordings with various musical groups. When not on the road, he lives in great contentment on ten acres of woods in rural Michigan with his wife, Sherry Brodock.
Thomas, of Asheville, NC, started carving at Christmas school in 2002 and has had trouble putting the knife down since. He has made, sold, and generously given his spoons, spreaders, santas, and beautiful pendants.
Mary grew up on a Kentucky farm where telling stories was considered a moral failing. After years of confessing her storytelling sins, she finally gave into temptation and embraced her career. Since 1983 venues from Florida to Alaska have featured her storytelling performances and workshops – including such events as the Forest Storytelling Festival in Port Angeles, Washington, the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and Winter Tales in Oklahoma City. She expects to take delight in pondering, “What happens when a story is told well?” for the rest of her life. Mary’s work has been recognized with a Circle of Excellence Award from the National Storytelling Network and Jesse Stuart Award from the Kentucky School Media Association. Honors for her recordings include a Parent’s Choice Gold and a Storytelling World Winner designation for her “Sisters All. . . and One Troll” CD featuring her unique eleven-in-one multi-cultural retelling of Cinderella. She is the author of Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies, honored with both Storytelling World Winner and Anne Izzard Storytellers’ Choice Awards, published by University Press of Kentucky. Learn more at www.maryhamilton.info.
Beginning Storytelling; Intermediate/Advanced Storytelling
Wayne, a leading performer of early classical winds with over 4000 performances around the world to his credit, is well known in the world of Film (The Lego Movie, The Good Dinosaur) Television (Breaking Bad, Disney’s Princess Adventures) and Video games (Hero’s Charge). But he is better known to the Berea community for playing all those strange instruments he brings to the Dance School every year. He has received over 30 awards and grants from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, The National Endowment of the Arts and organizations abroad and teaches all over the country with major residencies at the Chatauqua institution and Interlochen. His current project involves bringing the Ocarina into the school system with his latest work, The Ocarina Advantage.
Recorder for the Next Level; Trump (Jaw Harp); Recorder for New Students
Mary has taught English country dancing at workshops, dance camps, Elderhostels, and at Christmas Country Dance School for many years. She brings enthusiasm and a sense of fun to beginners, while teaching in a clear, concise style.
Beginning English Country Dance
Dean has been playing for contra, Scottish, English, international, and couples dancing since he relocated to North Carolina in the late 1970s. He cofounded the band FootLoose and played piano and clarinet with it for 20 years. He helps organize a family and community dance series in the Triangle area.
English Dance Open Mic/Open Band
For more than 30 years, Andrea Hoag has devoted herself to traditional fiddling. Living in Kentucky and North Carolina in the early 1980s, she pursued Appalachian fiddling with visits to elders and archives. A growing passion for Swedish fiddling led her to study at Malungs Folkhögskola in Sweden, where she earned the certificate in Folk Violin Pedagogy in 1984. Andrea’s music has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Performance Today and has garnered a Grammy nomination. In 2014 she received a Maryland State Arts Council Artist Award for Solo Performance. Her most recent album is Cold Frosty Morning at West River.
Sarah Jo Jacobs
Sarah Jo is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with her Degree in Theater and English. She is ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with her CCDS family again. SJ has studied play-writing, acting, folk lore and puppetry. She has designed puppets for shows like Little Shop of Horrors, Avenue Q, and The Little Prince. She has also participated in numerous productions and festivals including Cumberland Dance Week (Instructor), The 24 Hour Play Festival (Director), Our Town (Emily Webb), The Tempest (Antonio), and Godspell (Chorus).
Mummers the Musical!
Atossa has been a long time musician and staff member of Christmas School, playing piano, clarinet, recorder and accordion. Now fully retired from Berea College, she has moved to Black Mountain, NC where she is enjoying the beauty of Western North Carolina as well as becoming involved in the music and folk dance communities in the area.
Abby grew up in the East Coast traditional folk music revival of the 1970s. Abby started touring nationally at 18 with the dance and music company Rhythm In Shoes (RIS). She has collaborated with musician and composer Malcolm Dalglish in The Welcome Table, including original dance, music and choral arrangements of poems by Wendell Berry. In 2014 Abby reunited with RIS artistic director Sharon Leahy and a cast of percussive dance all-stars for Carry It On, a film and performance project celebrating the Wheatland Music Organization’s 40th anniversary festival.
Introduction to Team Clogging; Clogging Intermediate
Lewis & Donna Lamb
Native Kentuckians, this remarkable father-daughter duo have been making, preserving, teaching, and sharing traditional Appalachian music for many years. With Lewis on fiddle and Donna on guitar your feet don’t stand a chance of remaining still! They perform and teach old time square dance music and traditional songs at festivals and workshops throughout the region. Lewis is also known for his folk-art woodcarvings and he and Donna together have crafted numerous musical instruments. Lewis and Donna are 2007 winners of the Kentucky Folk Heritage Award.
Songs from the Past to the Present
One might say Roo has been observing, learning and studying Scandinavian dance since she met the Hambo on the dance floor when she was in college. Roo’s hallmarks include clear, positive teaching that incorporates background information, styling and technique and her ability to present the basic concepts of Scandinavian dance to dancers of all levels in a fun and lighthearted manner. She conducts workshops throughout the US, specializing in the turning dances of Norway and Sweden. Roo will be assisted by Harry Khamis, a regular teacher at Miami Valley Folk Dance Club in Dayton, Ohio.
Scandinavian Dance Basics; Hambo Skills and Dancing: Dancing Further into Scandinavian Dance
Harry received the “Big Silver Medal” in Swedish polska dances in Sveg, Sweden in 1999 and has earned 13 “diploms”. In 2016 in St. Andrews, Scotland, he became a fully certificated Scottish Country Dance teacher. Harry taught international folk dance at Wright State University (Dayton, OH) as a two-credit hour college course for 13 years, and he has taught at dance camps, workshops, and classes in several parts of the U.S. and in France. He has been a regular teacher at the Miami Valley Folk Dance Club and the Flying Ghillies Scottish Country Dance Club in Dayton, OH for many years before moving to Seattle, WA. Harry teaches with Roo Lester regularly at dance weekends and camps around the country.
Scandinavian Dance Basics; Hambo Skills and Dancing: Dancing Further into Scandinavian Dance
Robbin resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is an ATI certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. She teaches classes and private lessons in both Alexander Technique and piano. Robbin serves as the Summer Kodaly program director and folk music analysis teacher at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Previously, Robbin spent twenty-five years as the lower school music specialist at St. Paul’s School in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a well-known traditional dance leader and an advocate for accurate performance styles in the music classroom. She was program director for CDSS Family Week at Pinewoods Camp 2005-2007 and has served on staff for numerous CDSS and Lloyd Shaw Foundation weeks. Robbin was initially drawn to the Alexander Technique to help her with back and neck pain from years of playing piano and teaching small children. She now specializes in helping musicians, dancers and others unlearn habits which make them uncomfortable at their daily activities.
Alexander Technique for Dancers and Musicians; Contras for All; Singing Games and Play Party for Grownups
The first song Emily remembers learning was the Louvin Brothers’ hit “When I Stop Dreaming,” around age 8, which she sang as a duet with her older brother, Ethan. That should tell you something about her musical upbringing. Old-time country music reigned supreme in the Miller house, no matter where that house was situated (she has called Kansas, Hong Kong, Toronto, Chicago, New York, Nashville, Vermont and West Virginia home). After performing with many different groups in her teenage years (most notably Northern Harmony, with whom she toured all over the US and Europe), Emily formed the honky-tonk country band The Sweetback Sisters in 2006 with fellow singer Zara Bode. They have recorded three full-length records and have performed their renegade retro style of country music in barrooms and concert halls around the world. Emily has appeared several times on national radio programs, including A Prairie Home Companion and WV’s own Mountain Stage. Emily also performs old-time music as a duo with her husband, Jesse Milnes. They recorded their first duo record together in January 2015 and have toured in Australia, California and the East Coast this year. Emily is also musical director for the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble’s string band in Elkins, WV, which recruits talented instrumentalists and dancers from around the country for a high-level student performance ensemble. She and Jesse make their home in Valley Bend, WV.
Group Singing for All; Duet Singing
Jim Morrison could have made something of himself if he had just asserted some of the industry of his gold rush ancestors. Instead, he has squandered his life puzzling over arcane bits of square dance, morris dance, and traditional music customs far from home. People do seem to enjoy his classes, though, and his mother and I are still proud of him.
– Milton Morrison
Morris Dancing; Appalachian Barn Dancing
Owen is an accomplished rhythm and lead guitarist, at home in many styles of traditional music. His playing, laced with rhythmic power and skillful finesse, has made him popular among dancers and fiddlers alike. Owen has toured the U.S. and abroad with bands such as Elixir, Airdance, Night Watch and The Morrison Brothers Band. He frequently appears on staff at Pinewoods, Augusta, Ashokan and many other camps, and is thrilled to be returning to CCDS this year.
Gene has been an English country dancer and musician since 1965, and has taught and called at clubs, workshops, festivals, and balls throughout the United States as well as England, Europe, Canada, and Japan. He has attended Pinewoods Camp as a CDSS staff member almost every year since 1965, and has chaired Early Music Week, English Dance Week, and English/American Dance weeks several times each. In 1996 he organized the Amherst Assembly, a week-long conference devoted to a scholarly and practical look at the origins and evolution of the country dance. He was invited to present a paper at the 2001 EFDSS/Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society conference in London tracing the history of English country dancing in America, and in 2004 he was honored as the featured country dance caller and teacher at the gala 50th anniversary of England’s Sidmouth International Festival. He has toured England several times for calling engagements, and has appeared at the Eastbourne, Lichfield, Whitby, and Southam Festivals. In the fall of 2006, he toured Japan for two weeks teaching English dance workshops, where he returned in 2011 to lead the Folk Dance Federation of Japan national workshop. He is author of a resource guide and training curriculum on musicianship for English country dance teachers — the basis of a course offered at the Pinewoods, Mendocino, and Berea country dance workshops in the United States. As a dance musician, he has made four recordings: “Measured Obsession” (music for dances by Fried Herman), and “Old Friends,” “New Friends,” and “Band of Friends” (for dances by Gary Roodman). He is also the Producer of the series of English dance recordings featuring the Boston-based band Bare Necessities, now numbering 14 discs. A professionally-trained musician, Gene is the founder and Executive Director of Gotham Early Music Scene, a service and advocacy organization for early music in New York City, and served on the Board of Directors of Early Music America. He has also served on the Board of the Country Dance and Song Society of America, was President of the American Recorder Society, and serves as a jury/panel member for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
English Country Dance as an Art for Advanced Dancers; English Callers Workshop; Inventions and Legacy of Pat Shaw
Ben is Pat’s grandson, Dave’s younger son, and Jim’s cousin or nephew, depending upon whom you ask. He is a college freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University where he is a computer science major. He has been enjoying dancing and avoiding calling Appalachian figures for several years. You should dance with him, and if you are good enough, maybe he will serenade you on the piano, following the dance.
Kentucky Set Running
Janet, a basket maker from Rockcastle County, Kentucky, will proudly be joining the CCDS staff for her 17th year. Janet will be offering classes in both traditional and nontraditional styles of basketry. A variety of materials will be offered with plenty of room for freedom of expression in your individual baskets.
Basketry for All (one); Basketry for All, (two)
Ron is a performer and scholar of the music of the Appalachian region. A founding member of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers, with whom he performed on A Prairie Home Companion, Ron is also Professor of Music and Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of I Wonder As I Wander, a biography of folk icon John Jacob Niles. Ron began fiddling forty years ago in Rockbridge County, Virginia and has since participated in various workshops and festivals across the region including Hindman Settlement School’s Folk Week, Augusta’s Old-Time and Singing weeks, Berea’s Christmas Dance School, and Swannanoa Gathering’s Old Time Music and Dance week. He has also performed music across the globe with the Red State Ramblers and recently shared shape note singing with Sufi chant in Lancashire, England.
Sacred Harp Singing
A member of the contra dance band, Serpentine, the Danish/Faroese band, Spælimenninir and the Scandinavian trio, Hoag/Kelly/Pilzer, Charlie has played too many dances to count. When not playing music, he records, mixes and masters CDs at Airshow and is fortunate to work on all kinds of wonderful projects. Charlie lives in Takoma Park, MD.
Beginning Dance Band
Jamie has been running sound for dances and concerts, mostly in the Washington, DC area, for many years. He is a regular at Glen Echo Park and specializes in all types of traditional music. He has also been running sound for a number of dance weekends and other events from Gulfport, FL to Ann Arbor, MI. This will be his 8th adventure at CCDS. Jamie’s approach has been to make each instrument and voice sound as close to natural as possible, work hard to make the musicians happy, and let them carry the show.
Wendy Graham Settle
A self-described “dance maniac,” Wendy Graham Settle (Durango, CO) is thrilled to be back on staff at the Christmas Country Dance School, where her passion for music, song and dance caught fire 26 years ago. Wendy leads English, American, and a variety of social dances in the southwest, throughout the country, and abroad — as far away as Alaska, England and Denmark. She proudly served on the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) board. Find out more about the perky pants dance factory at www.perkypantsdance.com.
Advanced Contras; Writing Contra Dances; Calling Contra Dances
Mara has been playing with violins since her mother decided her child had a really good sense of pitch and enrolled her in music schools in Westport and New Haven, CT. After studying classical violin for 10 years and then taking a 15-year break, she discovered folk and dance music. Mara has been happily playing for dancers since the 1990s — various styles of English, Scottish, contra, ceilidh — and is frequently heard at balls, dance weekends and concerts throughout the US and Canada. She has been on the music staff at Pinewoods, TAC Summer School, Ramblewood, Scottish Weekend, and at the John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, NC. Mara plays regularly at the English country dance weekend at John C. Campbell each Spring, and organizes the music for the Sun Assembly English country dance group in Durham, North Carolina. She has several recordings with her contra dance band, The Elftones, as well as with other wonderful musicians such as Dave Wiesler (Heather Hills) and Rhiannon Giddens (All the Pretty Horses). In 2013, Mara, Julie Gorka (keyboard), and Walt Robinson (recorder) formed Syllabub (www.syllabubmusic.com), and they are becoming well-known at English / Regency dances throughout the US. In 2014, Mara and Julie released an album of waltzes (In ¾ time), which also includes several English country dances. Mara lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she teaches Celtic fiddle, and works as a freelance technical writer and editor. For more on Mara, and to listen to some of her music, visit her website.
Jim Napier Stites
Jim is Pat’s grandson, Dave’s nephew, and is the elder son of Pamela “Not Pam” Napier. He is a music teacher who has enjoyed dancing and calling Appalachian figures for…well…some time, now.
Kentucky Set Running
Patty is a long-time Christmas Country Dance School participant and enthusiast. A member of the singing Ritchie family, Patty most enjoys encouraging folks, young and old, to sing together and share their many talents.
Will coordinate Morningsong and Stories, and Evening Parlor
Al teaches Appalachian music for string instruments at Berea College and is best known for his mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and banjo playing, teaching any and all of these when asked. He is the leader of the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, an energetic student group. Al plays fiddle in the Berea Cast-Offs dance band and has been an artist-in-residence for the Kentucky Arts Council in storytelling, folk music and dance. He also has been a staff member at Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Kentucky Summer Dance School, and other dance weeks.
Alice, third generation participant and CCDS staff member, plays bass and sings with her husband, Al. She’s performed across the US and abroad, from the Grand Old Opry to the Kennedy Center, to a school gym north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, to another in Hobart, Tasmania. Locally, she and Al can be heard accompanying the Berea Festival Dancers, playing for contras with the Berea Cast-Offs, or doing concerts with her sister, Ruth McLain Smith.
Will coordinate evening staff music
Nathan is a veteran of over 30 years in country dance music. He plays the fiddle, mandolin, tenor banjo, double bass, electric bass guitar, and piano. Currently, Nathan plays with The Morrison Brothers Band, Elise Melrood, Footbridge, Intellectual Property, Websters Edition – Jazz, Paw Paw Pickers, and the Lexington Community Orchestra. His greatest thrill, however, is making music with his daughters Adéla and Anna in their band, Dreamdance. Nathan brings his love for music to others through teaching and mentoring orchestra students in the Kentucky public schools, and as music director at his church in Lexington. He is also, without a doubt, one of the world’s most under-appreciated random storytellers.