Winter Dance Week – Register Early for Discount

IMG_9474_retWEBRing in the New Year dancing to the glorious live music of Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, Bruce Rosen, Mick Kinney, Geraud Barralon and FOXFIRE!

Winter Dance Week offers a unique combination of top-notch callers, teachers, and musicians – along with beautiful surroundings, good food, comfortable accommodations, and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
A Gala New Year’s Eve Party and New Year’s morning breakfast will finish off the week.

 *SPECIAL OFFER: Register on or before November 1 and get a special rate of $300

Your All-Star staff:
-Sue Rosen
-David Millstone
-Charlotte Crittenden
-Anna Patton & Ethan Hazzard-Watkins of Elixr
-Bruce Rosen of Phantom Power
-Daron Douglas & Karen Axelrod of Foxfire
-Matt Olwell & Emily Oleson
-Elise Witt
-Mick Kinney
-Carl Dreher
-Geraud Barralon

Participants should have previous contra dance and/or English country dance experience (such as our “Learn to Contra Dance” class or the equivalent). We do not recommend Winter Dance Week for beginning dancers.

Standard Tuition: $376*
Local Tuition: $188

Limited work exchange scholarships are available. Phone the office or email to request a scholarship application.

This year’s schedule includes some exciting new workshops.

Continue reading Winter Dance Week – Register Early for Discount

Pack Your Woad, Kilts, & Bagpipes


scottish_headerCome on down to Brasstown the week of August 13- September 6 for Scottish Heritage Week at the Folk School, featuring a festive week of Celtic themed classes and demonstrations. If you are of Scottish descent, or merely love the culture, come enjoy a “taste of Scotland” through fascinating history and stories, lively music & dance, and savory food.

Fancy Fibers

Weaving a Tartan

Have always wanted to learn about tartans? Consider Melissa Weaver Dunning’s intermediate Scottish Tartans—Inspiration to Weave a Scarf to take your weaving a higher level. Experienced knitters, you will want to try Fair Isle Knitting: Starting with Color with Martha Owen to learn techniques and patterns inspiring by this traditional Shetland style.

Do Celtic knot designs fascinate you? Don’t fear the knot! Learn to construct designs from patchwork in “Celtic Illusions” Wall Hanging taught by Marolyn Floyd.

Appalachian Connection

Early Scotch and Scotch-Irish settlers contributed greatly to American culture, and nowhere has their influence been more strongly felt than in the Appalachians. Learn about the musical connection in Sara Grey’s Ballads and Songs from Scotland to Appalachia and Beyond. Students will explore and sing about the migration of ballads and songs from the British Isles (primarily Scotland) to North America. Explore similarities in legends and folktales and learn techniques and devices used by traditional storytellers in Bobbie Pell’s Scottish Roots in Appalachian Traditions.

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A Wee Bit of Scottish Cooking


Wendy Harrison is coming all the way from her Highland home in Inverness, Scotland to teach “A Wee Bit of Cooking” for Scottish Heritage Week: August 31-September 6. Join her in the Cooking Studio at the Folk School for this all levels class introducing you to a wide range of traditional baking and homey meals, as well as modern Scottish favorites and dishes to impress. Read two perspectives to inspire you. The first is directly from Wendy and the second is from Cappy Tosetti, who is excited to explore her Scottish roots through cooking.

Finnan Haddie Tart
Finnan Haddie Tart

By Wendy Harrison, Instructor:

Selkirk Bannock
Selkirk Bannocks

Famed for its beautiful landscapes, peaty whiskeys, men in kilts and traditional music, Scottish food is not one of the world’s better known cuisines. Trust me – It has much to offer. Fans of homey cooking will love the stews, pies, soups and teacakes. And for those evenings when a more refined menu is desired, I’ll share how locally available produce can be turned into delicate starters, impressive mains and to-die-for desserts. Many of the dishes we’ll make will be regional specialty such as Moray Cullen Skink and Selkirk Bannocks. We’ll also learn how to whip up a few of popular dishes that have foreign influences such as the Indian-inspired but Glasgow-created Curry, Chicken Tikka Marsala.

Born near Glasgow, brought up in Aberdeenshire and settled in the Highlands for 10 years now, I’m a true Scot, English teacher by profession, and an enthusiastic home cook who looks forward to visiting North Carolina and sharing the food of Scotland with you. Join me in the Folk School Cooking Studio August 31 – September 6 for “A Wee Bit of Cooking.”

Cullen Skink

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Quilling Comes to the Folk School


I had the pleasure of teaching a week-long Quilling class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina during the week of March 23-29. I previously taught a weekend class there, but the weeklong class allowed enough time to teach all beginner through advanced techniques and a lot of time to work on individual projects.

The Folk School has been around since 1925, situated on 300 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern North Carolina. It’s an amazing school that offers a non-competitive learning environment combined with some fun, relaxation, and entertainment, not to mention meeting people from all over the country. Approximately 150 people attend the School each week, and by the end of the week, you almost feel like you have 150 new friends.

This particular week was one of their “themed weeks”: honoring the founders,  John & Olive Campbell, it was “Scandinavian Heritage Week,” so most of the classes offered had themed projects and all the meals were of Scandinavian origin. For the Quilling class, we decorated Dala Horses and created Scandinavian themed designs (see photos), and one student was even brave enough to try her hand at creating a Nisse ornament!

Scandinavian Nisse figure

Some of the students had prior Quilling experience so they mastered the beginning techniques easily. I taught every technique in the book: weaving, braiding, fringing, combing, looping, making jewelry, the new beehive technique, various ways to make roses….you name it, they did it! After learning all of the techniques, they had 2-1/2 days in which to make some neat projects. On the last day, the School offered an Exhibition so the students could show off their new skills. I was also able to put on a demonstration during the week for the entire School in order to generate more interest…..and I have to say, the response was overwhelming!


I recommend this School to anyone looking to get away to the mountains for a vacation, a girls weekend or just on your own……all while learning a new skill and making new friends.

The Way It Is, Is the Reason I Started Doing This Stuff in the First Place: Dance Musicians Week

Dance Musicians Week students serenade folks as they enter the Dining Hall for lunch.
Student learn to play together as a dance band.

In 2001, I received a message from Bob Dalsemer asking if I would join the instructor team for Dance Musicians Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Lifelong mentor, fiddler, caller and instructor extraordinaire David Kaynor had thrown my name out to Bob, the music and dance coordinator at the school at the time. At that point I was living in Western Massachusetts playing with David and the Greenfield Dance Band and had been devoting much of my time to being a touring singer songwriter. I had been in the contra dance scene picking tunes for about a decade. My musical influences were a woven patchwork of the folks that had surrounded me growing up in New York—Jay Unger, Lyn Hardy, Molly Mason, Sonny Ochs, Pete Seeger. Being born into a family of activists and labor organizers, community was most important and music was (and is) the vehicle and the glue that tied it all together. We were raised to believe that music and dance for music and dance’s sake is not enough. Community first.

A band of DMW students takes the stage for one of the nightly contra dances.

“Sing behind the plow!” is one of the great mottos of the John C. Campbell Folk School. Upon first look into the Folk School it seemed to be a kind of Brigadoon, a place stuck in time. Of course, I mean that in the best way. At that point in my life I was lamenting the waning of “community” in “community dance” and was excited to see a place nestled in the far west mountains of North Carolina, founded in the 1920s by the grandmother of the twentieth-century folk music revival, Olive Dame Campbell. Mrs. Campbell based the philosophy of the Folk School on the Danish tradition of folkenhojskolen which aims to foster culture and tradition through noncompetitive adult education—metalwork, quilting, woodwork, photography, cooking—happening alongside a rich tradition of music and dance, with folks from the surrounding Brasstown community invited to weekly concerts and dances and given special admittance into classes. I heard a student once comment “This place is like a kind of Whoville!” referencing the idealistic village from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This is exemplified best by the very fact that each dance ends with a short goodnight song, sung with hands joined in a circle. The facilities are surrounded by hills, rivers, lush gardens, outdoor folky sculptures and paths through the woods. Best of all, the dancers are not contra “dancers”—they are mostly just folks from the community. Their gauge of a great experience is more based on who they got to see that night, not how slick the floor was or what tempo the band had played. I had found my place, or maybe the place found me! Continue reading The Way It Is, Is the Reason I Started Doing This Stuff in the First Place: Dance Musicians Week