It’s Dance Musicians’ Week at the Folk School, and the Dance Musicians’ class is back by popular demand. Since 1994 dancers and musicians have come together to play for their own enjoyment as well as other’s. Even the instructors travel long and far to be here. David Kaynor, of Massachusetts, is one of the regular callers for the contra dances, and has been coming here every year as staff since the class’s institution. Peter Siegel is from Vermont, while Sue Songer is from Oregon. One such instructor, Naomi Morse, hails from Brooklyn, New York, and happens to be a professional singer. They specialize in fiddle, keyboard, and banjo (but not necessarily in that order).

Here’s a video of students and instructors playing on the Dining Hall porch at lunchtime:

“The community kind of adopts the instructors when they’re here.” Says Music and Dance Coordinator Bob Dalsemer. Dalsemer started scheduling dance caller classes at the Folk School in 1991, then took the next step with the Dance Musicians’ class. ‘’The class puts an emphasis on playing for dance in an ensemble, and for the dances we have a different student band every night this week.”

Contrary to what the name implies, the Basketeers do not only make baskets, however that is how the group started out. 25 years ago in a 2 week course in white oak basketry, 3 women became inseperable. They returned to take the class every year as their friendship grew, earning the nickname “The Three Basketeers”. By the third year they picked up another companion to make themselves now a foursome. Thus, they changed their name to “The Tree Basketeers.” These four women were Ida Palmer-Ball, Sally Blankenship, Betsy Orlando, and Judi Tangerman Hickson. And so, the famous Basketeer group was born.

Eventually, the ladies’ instructors decided to discontinue teaching, but these women were resolved to continue meeting annually and doing the crafts they love. So Betsy approached the Folk School administrators to get permission to rent a studio on campus and continue the class, and her request was granted. Later they decided to merge with Elmer Tangerman’s woodworking class, and evolved into the group we see today.

“Our interests seemed to diverge at that point, so we chose to make the class more independently guided.” Said Sally of the class’s focus. Now participants bring their own projects to work on in a highly conversational, relaxed environment.
-Jack, a regular dulcimer instructor, is taking on the task of fusing rings together into a charm bracelet.
-Marolyn is tackling her “Block of the Month” quilt.
-Carol is also patching together a quilt, however hers resembles the classic game Monkeys In A Barrel, and has titled it “Monkey Business”.
-Betsy takes pleasure in making dolls, and is currently focusing on a wiley witch.
-Sally is making batik fabric to be made into window curtains.
-Becky is felting a rug-in-a-tub.
-Judi, the daughter of the late woodcarving instructor Elmer Tangerman, is following her passion and carving birds out of blocks of wood.

Clockwise from top left: Carol shows off her chain bracelets made by fellow basketeer Jack Smoot; Sally is adding color to her batik fabric; Marolyn works on her "Block of the Month" quilt; Carol arranges fabric for one her "patchwork monkeys."

The Basketeers always assemble during Dance Musicians’ Week. This class is open to anyone and it’s listed in the Folk School catalog.

Clay, Home Cheese Cooking, Kaleidoscopes, Watercolor Painting, Photography, Patchwork Quiliting, Storytelling, Woodcarving Cowboys and Other Figurines, Woodturning Basics, and Settlement School Weaving, were also classes occuring this week.

Written By: Taylor Bello, Summer Intern from Murphy High School