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NGI Recipient: Phoebe House

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - ESCape (English-Scottish-Contra) (2017)

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to attend Pinewoods as an NGI scholarship recipient.

As I’m primarily a contra dancer, ESC was my first real experience with both Scottish and English dancing. I was certainly nervous about this lack of experience coming into camp, and this nervousness increased during the first few hours before the dancing started. I saw that the schedule was heavily loaded with dances I had never done before, and everyone I spoke with seemed to be an expert in either English or Scottish dancing. I remember being struck by how seriously they treat dancing, discussing the finer points of such-and-such techniques, and how important dancing had been throughout the courses of their entire lives, and even their parents’ lives. Then there was me, a dancing Muggle so to speak, who stumbled upon contra mere years ago and who latched onto it not as much for the physical act in itself (which is great, don’t get me wrong) as much as the sense of community it encourages. I worried that I had immersed myself in a situation where people valued dancing in a different way from me, focusing on ability and technique instead of community.

But the very first night, it became clear that everyone there was not only eager to learn new dancing styles, but also eager to teach and include beginners. It was wonderful to see that the spirit of inclusion and acceptance extends beyond contra to different dancing styles. I am absolutely motivated to continue dancing English and Scottish whenever I have the opportunity.

Again, I’d like to thank you for the chance to immerse myself in this somewhat new, somewhat familiar community of friends.