YDW is organized by a committee of seven volunteers. We thought you’d like to know who we are.
Max Newman hails from Alaska. Now a resident of Boston, he gets his kicks playing for dances, often with the bands Stringrays and Nor’easter. Like Ethan HW and Mary W, he served a term as the Youth Projects Intern at the Country Dance & Song Society, leading workshops and creating resources for dance organizers and the like. He believes in promoting a sense of ownership in next generation dancers/musicians/callers, as well as facilitating conversations across a large geographic area. Max is fascinated by the history of modern contra dancing.
Known to shout “Money Musk!” in a crowded hall, he is also an avid fan of root beer.
Mary Wesley is a dance leader, caller, and organizer for contras, squares, morris, and family and community dances and founding member of the Mad Robin Callers Collective. A native of Vermont, she travels throughout New England and beyond to follow and share her love of dance. Mary is mad about organizing! She co-chaired “Puttin’ on the Dance: A Conference for Northeast Dance Organizers” in 2011. Since then she has joined the committees for Elixir’s Cape Cod Dance Weekend and Oh La La Dance Weekend. She is also now the third CDSS Youth Intern to serve on the YDW committee. When not organizing dance events, Mary organizes her sock drawer.
Harris Lapiroff went to his first contra dance at Oberlin College in 2006 and fell in love. He got his start organizing as a member of Oberlin’s Contra Dance Club/Dandelion Romp. He’s a dancer, organizer, occasional caller, and aspiring guitarist. As a resident of Washington DC, he is the committee’s most southerly member. He thinks a lot about how dance, identity, and activism overlap.
Outside of contra dance, he enjoys mathematics, poetry, art, baking, fiddling with electronics, developing web applications with Little Weaver Web Collective, and watching a lot of Doctor Who.
Raised in Bellingham, WA, Abigail Hobart is a recent graduate of Hampshire College where she co-organized the Hampshire College contra dance series for three years, and later produced the Red Barn Folk Festival as part of her senior project. Now she is learning how to be a real adult in Northampton, MA. Abigail loves discussing any combination of the following: community building, applied ethnomusicology, gender in dance, the evolution of tradition, inclusivity, food and farming, folk music, and politics!
Matt Willner is a dancer, urban planner, and amateur circus acrobat living in Somerville, MA. He was first introduced to contra dancing at Oberlin College, and quickly fell in love with traditional song and dance. In his spare time, Matthew likes to talk about climate change, play board games, and is capable of baking some of the most luscious bagels you’ve ever tasted.
Sarah VanNorstrand is a dance caller, dancer, and farmer from Cazenovia, NY. She started dancing and playing folk music in high school, and it has defined much of her life ever since. She fits in traveling for calling around various farm jobs in upstate New York, and enjoys living in the tension of simultaneously being a traveling homebody and a farmer with wanderlust. When she’s not dancing or calling, you can find her in her overly-large garden, baking pies or rescuing barn kittens. After falling in love with YDW as a camper, she’s excited to join forces with some truly wonderful people to help create another amazing Youth Dance Weekend experience.
Coral Breuer is a dancer, organizer and farmer living in Belfast, Maine. What she lacks in height she makes up in her gigantic enthusiasm for Scandi dances. She loves the way traditional dance and music brings people together, and thinks YDW is the bee’s knees. When it comes to table topics, you will probably find her discussing environmental stewardship, school gardens, restorative justice, and the amazingness of Hanabi.
Former Committee Members
YDW has been lucky to have some wonderful committee members who have shaped the weekend in more ways than we can count. Join us in giving thanks to them for all their work over the years!
Julia Nickles is a dancer and dance organizer who resides in the greater Philadelphia area. She started contra dancing when she was in elementary school because she wanted to copy what her cool big sister did. While in college at Brown University, Julia organized the contra dance on campus and worked to increase participation among students and other local youth.
Since she actually enjoys working with numbers, she is in charge of managing the finances for YDW. In fact, when she is not organizing dance events, Julia teaches high school mathematics at a boarding school.
In addition to her work with YDW, Julia serves on the board of the New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA).
Rebecca Lay is a farmer who loves Money Musk just about as much as she loves growing tomatoes. Which, in case you were wondering, is quite a lot. Rebecca also loves to feed people delicious, locally-grown food, so she helped source and purchase all of the ingredients for every dish served at the weekend. She even grew some of the vegetables at her very own Ten Speed Farm in Brattleboro, Vermont.
When she is not busy weeding garlic, harvesting tomatoes, or seeding salad mix, Rebecca works as a dance caller. She tries (but often fails) to wash the topsoil stains off of her hands and feet before leading contra, English, and square dances for people of all ages throughout New England and beyond.
Ethan is a fiddler and dance organizer based in Brattleboro, VT. He spends a good amount of time on the road playing for dances and festivals all over the country with bands such as Elixir and The Figments. In addition to YDW, Ethan has helped to organize the Brattleboro Dawn Dance and regular contra dance series in Greenfield and Brattleboro.
When not working on some musical project Ethan enjoys gardening, drinking espresso, building web sites, and playing soccer.
Brian has a history of traveling around the U.S. going to various contra dances and infecting the crowd with his positive attitude. He loves working with people in differing age groups to find connections on the dance floor. Brian was the person who planted the YDW seed and convened the group that became the first organizing committee.
Maggie has been dancing since she was in her mother’s womb. She loves contra, English, waltz, other couple dances, and used to be on a morris team. Maggie also enjoys singing. Maggie was instrumental in procuring T-shirts and inventing magnetic name tags; she also oversaw registration and communicated with campers.
Alex Krogh-Grabbe is a contradancer, morris dancer, and organizer living in Providence, Rhode Island. He started dancing at NEFFA in 1999 and hasn’t looked back. He started organizing rides for Youth Dance Weekend as a supervolunteer in 2009, and through the influence of YDW and the Puttin’ on the Dance conference, discovered in 2011 that English dancing is also cool. He has also been involved in organizing the Downtown Amherst contradance, the Greenfield dance, BIDA, NEFFA, CDSS, and Dawndance.
In his spare time, Alex tries to seduce dancer friends to move to Providence and enjoys playing board games, advocating for cities to build better bike infrastructure, serving as a cat pedestal, and keeping the internet running by reading all the tabs. He also really likes spreadsheets and is one of Sarah Pilzer’s charts and graphs groupies.
Sarah P. (a.k.a. Pitz) has a penchant for good food and organizing armies of volunteers. This makes her a perfect fit for her role as kitchen manager at YDW. For her, nothing says fun like being up to her elbows in a bowl of egg salad that will feed 150+ people. Being a true lover of charts and graphs, Sarah is also in charge of all of YDW’s data analysis needs. Sarah plays an active role in the greater dance community as an organizer of morris events.
Outside the kitchen, Sarah submerges her arms in saltwater as a marine biology. She graduated from Boston University with a MA in ichthyology and bioacoustics which are fancy words for “fish sounds.”
Mog first encountered the folk community at Oberlin College and hasn’t yet looked back. She has ended her tenure as a crew member at Pinewoods Camp and is happy to sell you accordions or concertinas instead. Mog currently dances with Marlboro Morris and Sword and Maple Morris and likes to spend Monday nights at the South Amherst English dance.
Other interests include 40-part renaissance motets, triominoes, cribbage, and mashups.