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NGI Recipient: Annie Kidwell

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2021)

Even almost two weeks later, the magic of Pinewoods is echoing through my heart! I feel as if I can still hear music floating through the trees….

It was an exceptional week; a whole emotional and physical roller coaster as many of us re-acclimated to sharing space with strangers in close and intimate ways. Eye contact as a trio lands a particular harmony together. The mad rush to the pond after the dance. Even walking to C# with other people who saw that I was new and made space to help me. All of these small moments with individual humans helped make American Week what it was. I know for every unique connection I had with a camper (acro yoga during a dance break)(getting lost and then found again on my way to the dining hall)(bananagrams at the raccoon bar), there was a whole constellation of  individual moments happening across every nook in Pinewoods. A web that I could always feel, whether we sat at Gathering all together or I was laid out on the dock alone watching the stars.

With all of the delicious goodness – human connection – collective breathing there was also a good bit of anxiety. Anxiety that got me through the past year and a half. Re-learning that vulnerability and desire to lean on someone other than myself took so much patience. I would thank everyone who was there for being patient with each other, for being gentle as we found our way back together.

After so long of holding all of this tension in my body and being wound tight with apprehension around other people, that week was a time of learning to let go. Being able to throw myself whole-heartedly into harmony singing, swimming, salt-and-pepper collecting [a Dining Hall camper job], finding beauty again in my worn out dance shoes and a shared cup of tea. And what better place to spend it then in a comfortable bubble of old friends and new ones, meeting each as if for the first time and yet feeling as though we stepped right back into place. Ah, the play! The joy! The mistakes on the dance floor after many months away only added to everyone’s immense gratitude to be holding space with each other again.

Truly, I would not have been able to attend American Week without the generous scholarship CDSS and PCI offered me. And because of that, I was able to embrace the week and these people and all it had to teach me with my fullest mind and body.