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NGI Recipient: Emma Van Scoy

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - FAC Weekend (2013)

I first encountered the Folk Arts Center’s session at Pinewoods back in 2009, during my first summer as a volunteer at camp. Drawn in by the familiar rhythms of the Balkan and Caucasus regions, I finally had an opportunity to explore the dance traditions associated with the music that I fell in love with while singing with Village Harmony. Although the music begs for movement, the seemingly effortless synchronicity of the dancers proved to be more elusive than I could have imagined. Just as it takes practice to successfully hold one’s part through those close Balkan harmonies that sound crunchy to a Western ear, it was necessary to set aside a lifetime of contra, Scottish, and English country dance technique was set aside as I slowly taught my feet that it was not necessary to shift weight each and every time they were lifted off the ground. Despite a predictable mix of exhilaration and frustration, I was ultimately delighted with the experience of being a beginner again and with the pure sense of satisfaction that came with greeting each new challenge.

My brief encounters with international folk dancing during FAC quickly became a highlight of my summers working at Pinewoods. This spring, when given the chance to be a camper for the first time in five years, I was thrilled to discover that the NGI Scholarship would make it possible to finally immerse myself in everything that the FAC Weekend has to offer. It was such a gift to be able to fully dedicate my energy and attention to learning without the distractions and demands of a work schedule and outside responsibilities.

Thank you for a blissful weekend full of engaging classes, moonlit dives off the dock, afternoon naps with music on the breeze, late nights that all too quickly turned into sunrise, and the incredible opportunity to dance each evening to the music of the Pinewoods Band! Somewhere in the midst of it all I discovered that I could finally count on one hand the occasional times I messed up a dance, instead of the few times I got it right by the end. As a college student with limited income, I truly appreciate the Next Generation Initiative for providing me with this wonderful experience full of welcoming community, infectious joy, and patient guidance.