Karen Axelrod

Karen’s piano playing combines expressiveness, energy, lyricism and power.  She is equally at home with styles ranging from traditional folk melodies to passionate tangos to old world French musette waltzes to English Country dance tunes and much more.  She left behind classical music over 40 years ago, and has happily settled into her musical home… somewhere between folk, classical and improvisation.  Her playing is soulful yet touched with humor and whimsy.

When she is not playing concerts, Karen is one of the busiest and most sought-after traditional dance musicians.   Her elegant and rich piano playing and her colorful, gorgeous accordion playing are enlivened by her off-beat humor.  

Karen plays with a number of bands for traditional dance events as well as concerts.   Her bands include Alchemy, Foxfire, Peregrine Road and 3rd String Trio.  

Based in Brattleboro, VT, she tours extensively throughout the United States, Canada and abroad at dances, festivals, concerts, camps private parties and other events.   

Aubrey Atwater / Elwood Donnelly

Award-winning duo, Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly, presents a unique and thrilling blend of American and Celtic folk music and dance.  From Warren, RI, Aubrey and Elwood are delightful and energetic performers and teachers, offering workshops and concerts with exquisite vocals and an array of instruments including mountain dulcimer, banjo, Irish whistle, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, small percussion, and feet, including clogging, foot percussion, and contra, square and circle dances. Their joy, humor and musicality blend with scholarship, showing a deep understanding and appreciation of traditional folk music and its historical players. In particular, they count long-time friend and mentor Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) as a great influence in their musical and personal lives. In their 36-year career together, Aubrey and Elwood have produced nine books, a documentary film, and fourteen recordings which are streamed worldwide. To learn more, please visit their website at www.atwater-donnelly.com

Harmony Singing by Ear;                       Songs of the Ritchie Family

Elke Baker

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. Playing for dancers is one of her very favorite things…although dancing runs a close second.

Aidan Broadbridge

Aidan grew up in Scotland surrounded by both folk and classical music. He began playing violin and piano at the age of seven. After studying music in a Swedish highschool, Aidan moved to London to attend Trinity College of Music. He has played for numerous musicals and orchestras in and around London and Scotland and frequently travelled throughout the UK and abroad playing, teaching and directing. Aidan has been featured on numerous recordings with The Assembly Players, Halsway Millennium Players and Rest Assured. He is also the featured solo violinist on the motion picture soundtracks for ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Becoming Jane’ as well as the BBC dramas ‘Cranford’ and ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’. Aidan now lives in Sweden with his wife Annette and their son Levi.

Greta Combs

Greta has been playing recorder for over 50 years and has had many interesting gigs. She learned to play from Marie Marvel at Homeplace Community Center in Perry County, Kentucky who also taught her to folkdance. Greta has been to Berea Christmas Country Dance School many times over the years as a dancer, but this is the first time as a musician. Her feet are a little slower, but not her fingers!

Eric Crowden

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 18th year of teaching Temari at CCDS.

Beginning Temari Craft,          Intermediate Temari Craft

Brad Foster

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 Director Emeritus of the Country Dance and Song Society, having served for 28 years. He is a founder of the Bay Area Country Dance Society as well as co-founder of their Mendocino English and American dance weeks.

Intermediate English Country Dance;            

English Dance and the Art of Reconstruction

Kent Gilbert

Kent has been singing and dancing (in all kinds of traditions) since slightly before he was born. He has been a Christmas School participant for over 35 years, a leader in the Berea Shape Note community, energetic workshop leader, and fine appreciator of community music.

Wayne Hankin

This year Wayne is happy to be back at Berea.  in playing recorder – among other instruments requested. He’ll be back to encourage his recorder classes, and continue with JUBO which is his sweet little whistle instrument for ages 7 and up. If you’re a newby, Wayne performed in 8 productions with Cirque du Soleil and has residence at Colgate University and made his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He’s worked on films from Good Dinosaur to The Lego Movie. Wayne 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 residencies at the Chatauqua institution and Interlochen Arts Academy. 

 Beginning Recorder;  JUBO; Intermediate Recorder

Dean Herington

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 Band

Debbie Jackson

Debbie is a multi-instrumentalist and enjoys playing for English and Scottish Balls around the US and abroad- many of her English compositions have been choreographed and recorded by other bands. She also enjoys playing for contras and squares, swing dancing, blues and Latin, international, waltzing and vintage. She has performed in Denmark, Germany, India, and on Ukrainian National Radio and at various Folk Festivals across the Slovak Republic. She has also participated in two dance-music exchanges to Denmark and one to Austria.  At home, she loves being part of the musician staff team for the Michigan Dance Heritage Spring and Fall Camps. Debbie also loves leading community sings and has a broad repertoire of music. She is a member of the band, Childgrove. She has recorded/produced 2 CD’s for Childgrove and 1 solo project of her own arrangements. She played the role of pianist Floyd Cramer (with no speaking parts) in the Patsy Cline Story!. She began her musical career in 1977 as a folksinger/songwriter and bluegrass bass player/tenor part singer. She also recorded vocals in a recording studio for 2 years. Now she enjoys working in various musical ensembles and stretching the boundaries of piano music. Debbie lives in Waterford, Michigan and is excited to be returning to CCDS.

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. Sarah Jo has studied play-writing, acting, folk lore and puppetry. She is currently working as the Artistic Director for The Appalachian Shakespeare Center at EKU. 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 Play

Phil Jamison

Dance caller, musician, and flatfoot dancer, Phil has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas since the early 1970s, including more than forty years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. He has taught traditional Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College, in Asheville, North Carolina for close to thirty years, where he also served as coordinator of the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the Swannanoa Gathering. An inductee to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame as well as America’s Clogging Hall of Fame, Phil is also a scholar of Appalachian dance, and his book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance tells the history of traditional dance in southern Appalachia.  www.philjamison.com

Appalachian Square Dance;

Beginning Appalachian Flatfooting and Clogging;

Intermediate/Advanced Appalachian Flatfooting and Clogging

Roo Lester

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 Kent Gilbert a Berea dance and music gem!

Scandinavian Dance Basics;   Fun Nordic/Scandinavian-Delving Deeper; Hambo Skills and Dancing- Happy Hambo Dancing

David Macemon

More years ago than he would like to admit, David was fortunate to be introduced to dance when he was invited to help start a high school based performing group that demonstrated English Country Dance, Contra, Morris and Sword dancing. He has been dancing and teaching ever since.  David is known for his patient and clear teaching style and communicates the joy of dancing through his teaching and enthusiasm. He has been on staff for dance weeks and weekends around the country including Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Mendocino, Hey Days, and Berea Christmas Country Dance School. He is a regular caller for the weekly Portland Country Dance Community’s English dance, monthly advanced dance series, and teaches dance English, Contra, Morris and Sword at the Renaissance School for Arts and Sciences in Portland Oregon. 

Beginning English Country Dancing;

Int/Adv Rapper;           English Dance Open Mic

Jim Morrison

Jim has been a traditional dance enthusiast since his first Christmas Country Dance School in 1968. He is a collector of community dance in the Southeastern US and New England, and was a pioneer in the study of historic American social dance. He is also a lifelong morris and sword dancer. Jim plays fiddle and guitar, performing with the Morrison Brothers Band and the Albemarle Morris Men.    

Beginning Rapper;      Social Dances of Early America

Owen Morrison

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.       

Ben Napier

Ben is Pat’s grandson, Dave’s younger son, and Jim’s cousin or nephew, depending upon whom you ask. He is a software engineer for CarMax who loves to code. He has been enjoying dancing and avoiding calling Appalachian figures for many 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 Northern

Janet, a basket maker from Rockcastle County, Kentucky, will proudly be joining the CCDS staff for her 21st year. Janet will be offering classes in traditional styles of basketry. A variety of materials will be offered with plenty of room for artistic expression in your individual baskets.

Each class limited to the first 20 people to sign up.

Basketry for All, One;    Basketry for All, Two

Anna Patton

Anna is a clarinetist, singer, composer, and educator driven by musical curiosity. She plays with the internationally touring dance band Elixir and with many other contra, ECD, and swing/blues bands. She loves to teach ensemble classes, improvisation, and ear training. In her home town of Brattleboro VT, she directs the Soubrette Jazz Choir which performs her creative arrangements of historical and contemporary American music. She also enjoys drinking good espresso and playing ping pong.

Deliver the Rhythm!

Bruce Spencer

Bruce is a Kentuckian, a Berean, and a fibber. Storytelling is an old tradition in his family—they’ve been telling lies in Kentucky since 1845. Bruce has an M.A. in literature (which doesn’t help his storytelling much) and has been collecting fairy and folk stories since the 1970s. He’s led the Berea Story Tellers group since early 2019. This is Bruce’s forth time teaching at Christmas Country Dance School, having taught Mummer’s plays in past years. 


Jim Napier Stites

Jim is Pat’s grandson, Dave’s nephew, and is the elder son of Pamela “Not Pam” Napier.  He is a public-school band director who has enjoyed dancing and calling Appalachian figures for many years.  He has also been known to tell stories, and you oughtn’t believe a word he says.

   Kentucky Set Running

Patty Tarter

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

Ray Turner

First introduced to shaped note singing in 1967 as a teenager and have reveled in its joyful participation ever since. A native Kentuckian who has been a part of the growth of a greater and wider presence of ‘Harp’ singing across the state, I’m always seeking newfound adherents and lovers of shaped note singing who will ‘open their mouth and let’er fly’.

Shape Note Singing;                 How to Lead Shape Note Singing

Darlene Underwood

Darlene Underwood- Is a fun, energetic caller who has called Contras and Squares for over 21 years to smiling dancers across the country.

Advanced Contras;      Calling Contras Workshop;                   Beg/Int Contras

Larry Unger

A full-time musician since 1984, Larry Unger has traveled the world playing for traditional dances, at festivals and in concert. He is proficient at many instruments, and teaches guitar and banjo. He also gives workshops in tune composition, having written over 5000 melodies himself.

Al White

Al is a retired teacher of 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 was the leader of two energetic student groups, the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble and Mariachi Berea.  Al plays fiddle and mandolin in the Berea Cast-Offs dance band and has been seen lately picking with George Paul and Playing with Fyre. Alis a member of the McLain Family Band and Al, Alice and Ruth;. He has been a staff musician at CCDS, Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Kentucky Summer Dance School, and other dance weeks.

Alice White

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 is a retired 1st grade teacher and currently performs with the McLain Family Band.  She and Al can also be heard playing for contras with the Berea Cast-offs, or doing concerts with her sister, Ruth McLain Smith.                    

Will coordinate evening staff music

Joanna Reiner Wilkinson

Joanna Reiner has taught English dance for over two decades.  In addition to being one of the leaders of the Philadelphia-based Germantown Country Dancers, her calling has taken her from Amherst to Ann Arbor, from NEFFA to Hey Days, from St. Croix to Vancouver, and other points abroad, including many sessions at Pinewoods Camp.  While known for her clear calling and instruction, Joanna loves teaching workshops for ECD callers, and workshops that explore ECD technique, new dances, and how people learn and remember dance choreography.  Joanna is the Director of Programs for the Country Dance & Song Society (CDSS).

Advanced ECD-Making Magic; English Callers Workshop;

Longsword Dance-Bampton Weavers

Karina Wilson

Karina has dedicated her life to and traveled the world collecting music from every folk music tradition she can find since her first trip to Guinea, West Africa in 2004.  She started playing to accompany her dance calling father at contra dances, English country dances, camp dances and family dances in the southwest, and later farther abroad in 1993 at the tender age of 8, and has since appeared on stages and in dance halls around the world. Her time is now spent teaching private students, small string orchestras, fiddle classes, tango ensemble workshops, African stretch workshops, freelance recording projects, and collaborations with local musicians. She is currently performing with the groups Lone Pinon, Bard Ederington V, David Berkeley, and Heading up her own trio; Karina Wilson and Big Heart Boys, as well as the dance bands Revery out of WA, Playing with Fyre out of NC and the occasional dance weekend with The Gaslight Tinkers and Larry Unger.

Nathan Wilson

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.

Beginning Dance Band

Crispin Youngberg

Crispin Youngberg grew up dancing with Great Western Morris in Devon, who taught him to dance well but also not to take it too seriously. He has been twice winner of the John Gasson Solo Jig Competition at the Sidmouth Folk Festival, and now lives in Western Massachusetts, where he is foreman (dance teacher) of the Marlboro Morris M. Crispin is also an enthusiastic singer in the pub, on morris tours, and at shapenote conventions. When he’s not dancing or singing Crispin is currently studying to be a nurse.

Cotswold Morris for All