Dance S’More Staff – 2023
Fiddler Audrey Jaber brings a wealth of experience and a love of music and dance to Dance S’More. Born in Hawaii, the classically trained teen found herself playing and dancing for the local Irish scene and then later the contra dance group. While attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she discovered she could make a living as a contra dance musician. Since 2008, she’s covered the country and beyond playing in many groups including The Free Raisins (with Amy Englesberg), Wake Up Robin, and Audacious with Larry Unger. A seasoned staffer, Audrey has played at many major camps including Lady of the Lake, CDSS Pinewoods, Ashokan, Bay Area Country Dance Society (BACDS), and the John C. Campbell Folk School.
Her playing has been described as “rhythmically lively and spontaneous and irresistibly danceable.” She once reflected “I feel grateful that contra dance has accepted me for who I am both musically and as a person. I think being genuine in playing and as a community member is crucial.” www.audreyknuth.com
Amy grew up in the contra dance community in Bellingham, WA. She fell in love with the piano at age five and claims that she has played piano almost every day since. She trained under Ginny Snowe, who played many years at Lady of the Lake’s Family Camp. During her first year at Brandeis University, Amy discovered “that people my age danced too!” Within the year, Amy began playing piano for contra dances. She soon met Audrey Jaber (née Knuth) and in 2010 they formed the formidable band The Free Raisins, beginning a 10-year journey of playing music together. After three years of teaching Spanish in secondary schools back East, Amy moved to Seattle; on the trip back, she toured with Audrey and Andrew VanNorstrand. Their success resulted in another fantastic band, Wake Up Robin. She then became involved in the Seattle contra dance and music scene, joining forces with the formidable duo, Alex Sturbaum and Brian Lindsay, to form the band Saving Daylight. Amy has been on the staff at the major contra dance camps including Ashokan, Pinewoods, and BACDS. She brings great joy to her playing and she hopes, in turn, that dancers share in this joy. Amy currently lives on a farm in Vermont with friends, her partner and their two little ones. www.amyenglesberg.com
Brian has been dancing since he could walk, singing since he could speak, and playing fiddle most of his life. Raised in New York surrounded by contradancing and Irish music, Brian was an accomplished Irish fiddler by age 17. While attending Oberlin College, he met Alex Sturbaum and together developed mutual respect and began a collaboration that continues through today. Now living in Seattle, Brian plays with Alex in many configurations including Countercurrent, Saving Daylight with Amy Englesberg, and Gallimaufry. Their “musical fluency” that comes from a decade of playing together, results in “lyrical melodies, groovy chords, thumping percussion and vocal harmonies, all simultaneously.” Besides fiddle, Brian plays tenor banjo, mandolin, guitar, and flute; he also is an experienced performer of folk songs, old and new. www.brianlindsaymusic.com
Alex Sturbaum grew up in Cincinnati playing Irish jigs and reels at an early age. Attending Oberlin College, they were introduced to contra dancing and never looked back. Alex is a gifted musician who plays a multitude of instruments including guitar, button accordion, banjo, and mandolin. Currently living in Olympia, they play in many different configurations including Countercurrent with Brian Lindsay, Waxwings with Amy Englesberg, and Gallimaufry. Alex is also a renowned song writer who introduces contemporary narratives, as well as queer themes, in old song traditions.
Recently, Alex reflected on their passion for music and dance noting that “the contra community is one of the most welcoming, loving, and inclusive communities I have ever been a part of.” They added, “I am happy to see gender free contra dancing because it breaks down the assumption that you can determine a person’s behavior by how they present.” And in regard to their songs, Alex says “I try to strike a balance — my songs are usually recognizable as folk songs in terms of structure and style but I like to try to fill vacancies in the tradition and sing songs I wish already existed.” www.alexsturbaum.com
Lindsey discovered contradancing through her high school shape note community. Growing up in Sharon, Massachussetts, she danced to notable bands such as Elixir, Perpetual Motion, and Nor’Easter. Moving to the west coast to attend Reed College, she became a regular at the Portland Country Dance Community dances. Rich Goss in Portland, and Sherry Nevins in Seattle encouraged her to call (Rich enticed her by showing her the dance card for Lisa Greenleaf’s Airpants). With Lindsey’s ‘techy’ hat on, she describes contradancing as “the most efficient use of time, blending cognitive stimulation, social interaction, and physical exercise.“ Her non-techy view is that the big attraction is the “magic of all the pieces coming together.” She sees her role as a caller as a way to give back to her community by enabling those magic moments. Over the past ten years, her thoughtful programs, combined with her serene and sunny approach, has made Lindsey sought after in the Northwest and beyond. In her travels she noticed the division of age groups and became interested in intergenerational community building. She is excited about participating in Dance S’More and its goal to “enhance our community.”
Susan Michaels is Lady of the Lake. She first attended June camp as a dancer in the late 1980s; then as a parent, with daughter Sophie, going to Family camp in 1999; and then as a staff member for Family camp for its last ten years. During that time, she has become a fabulous dance caller, storyteller, and an all-around wonderful camper.
Susan learned to dance and call in the Los Angeles area but for the past seven years has lived on Vashon Island here in the Northwest. She describes herself as “a facilitator of joy” – “creating a community among random strangers by getting them to move together with the music” resulting in “everyone smiling.” She admits that calling “feeds my soul.”
Susan grew up surrounded by storytellers including her grandmother, mother, and father, and came to feel that she shared their gift. “It was my turn to keep the family stories alive.” The breakout moment for her was at Lady of the Lake when she realized that these stories, and those drawn from her own remarkable life, had universal appeal. She is now famous for her stories that make you laugh and cry all at the same time.
As for calling, Susan brings to her calling humor and insight. She teaches and encourages in a safe and accessible manner. And most importantly she stays current. She noted “the needs of our community are always changing.” She has been attributed with first using the gender free prompts of “lark and raven” (later changed to “robin”) to replace “ladies and gents.”
A Lady of the Lake favorite, Sue Hulsether has shared her ability to work joyfully with all participants at six of our Family Camps. One of her many strengths is versatility: she is adept at leading square, contra, and circle dances as well as singing games, traditional play parties and longways set dances for preschoolers to octogenarians and everyone in between! She does so with clear teaching, welcoming manner and engaging humor. Sue also plays piano, guitar, and banjo as well as being an accomplished flatfoot dancer. Sue will be heading up our kids’ program, focusing on ages 6-9 year olds.
Before her career as a full-time caller and teaching artist, Sue was an elementary music teacher and applies her skills as a teacher to her workshops. Teaching younger members of our community, she finds the tantalizing moments of a dance, teaches it first, and thereby “hooks” her dancers to learn the rest of the moves. She explained her love of teaching and calling: “I love helping people connect with each other and music.” And she finds Lady of the Lake to be the ideal experience. “I love how the entire community values each individual with their gifts, quirks, and insights.” The goal of each week is “joy and laughter.”
When she isn’t traveling the country leading dances, Sue lives on a twenty acre farm in Wisconsin with her spouse and a crew of shy barn cats. www.suehulsether.com
Nicole Singer fell in love with the songs of the sea while attending the collaborative Williams College and Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, and immersed herself further in maritime work as a deckhand aboard the schooner Mystic Whaler and as an educator aboard the sloop Clearwater. Today, she performs in concerts and festivals throughout the Northeast specializing in chanteys and other maritime music. One reviewer noted that her performance was “disarmingly simple; her voice steady and sure; and her repartee, witting and engaging.”
Nicole spends much of her time as a public elementary school art teacher in Amherst, MA, and she brings her teaching experience to the singing workshops that she offers at festivals and summer camps including CDSS’s Pinewoods. There, she shares not only her maritime songs but also ballads, camp songs, pub songs, kids songs, shape note singing and much more. Nicole “loves creating song sessions that bring people together across generations, fostering community, and making sessions inclusive and enjoyable for all.”
Besides singing and teaching, Nicole can be found behind the scenes organizing traditional music events. She is a co-founder and organizer of Youth Traditional Song Weekend, co-author of CDSS’s Folk Sing Starter Kit, and the chair for the folk music and song programming at the prestigious NEFFA spring festival. www.nicolesinger.com
Artist Patricia Montoya Donohue shares her love of nature through teaching art. While traveling, she has learned techniques and styles from other cultures, and over the course of many years, Patricia has taught art to a wide range of ages. At Dance S’More she will offer a variety of fun, accessible projects involving basketry and mosaics. She is looking forward to finding natural materials at N-Sid-Sen to use in the projects.
Patricia is on staff at the renowned John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. She lives in Eugene, Oregon and is an avid contra dancer. Patricia understands how art and dance can foster community. “I love the magic that is made when a person feels they belong and I am a firm believer in making sure all folks are included by enriching spaces to foster community.”
Brendan Biele, Gumby (aka Kristin Falk)
Managing sound for us will be Brendan and Gumby to enhance our listening and dancing pleasure.