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NGI Recipient: Kimberly Gollnick

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2016)

Not only was my first time at Pinewoods an extraordinarily wonderful experience, I was also participating in all the fun that is CDSS American Week. Above and beyond the incredible array of workshops, from waltzing, singing, and challenging contras, to name a few, one of my main highlights were the small moments I had talking and laughing one-on-one with many different people. One of the first nights I laid on the dock star gazing with a few friends, I found myself so thankful to be admiring such a vast expanse with other thoughtful people, discussing whatever came to mind. Life can be feel so chaotic and overwhelming, even at times I found that to be a challenge at Pinewoods with so many options and so many people. But in that moment under the stars, I felt calm and enveloped in community.

Over the past year, I have been contemplating increasingly what contra means for me in my life, my place in it all. In the beginning, I was largely focused on the dancing, yet from the various moments throughout American Week, I began to see contra in a slightly different light. Beyond the music, callers, dancers, etc. are very interesting and kind people. The high of the dance is still something I enjoy and look forward to. Yet after this week I am now able to pinpoint that it’s the people, the community that also bring another and even more prominent “high” for me. Contra dancing is beautiful in many aspects that the whole room is working together to make the dance; contra cannot happen with just one single person. Of course, where there are more people, there is an increase in variables of challenges. However, at the same time there is an increase in variations of beauty and a shared sense of togetherness. Increasing the depth of relationships with people as well as creating new relationships are what makes contra long lasting and worthwhile.  The importance of community is what I will continue to carry in my heart as I dance, travel, and live in conjunction with the endeavors I find myself in over these next years.

Benefiting greatly from the NGI scholarship I was able to attend camp with ease, not worrying about the finances in order to participate and share in such a rich experience. Overall, I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity and experience to have lived in such a historically and communally rich atmosphere. The first week of Pinewoods will be near and dear to my heart as will my sincere thankfulness to CDSS and PCI for this magical gift.