Christmas Country Dance School: A Berea College Tradition for 75 Years

Spend part of your holiday season at the 75th anniversary of Berea College’s Christmas Country Dance School, a cozy event dedicated to fun, music, friendship, learning, sharing and dance in a supportive atmosphere. Christmas Country Dance School provides a safe environment to try something new, participate in ancient traditions, and forge some new traditions. Classes such as Bollywood dancing, urban/rural movement remix, or jaw harp playing are sprinkled in with the many more traditional folk dance and singing classes to keep things fresh. Starting in 1938 as a training ground for dance leaders, CCDS has become a much loved tradition mixing youth (age 13 or older) and adults, beginner and experienced, with local, national, and international staff and participants.

Every day from December 26-31, there are 5 sessions of classes, with 7-10 choices for each session, including many classes in folk dance from Appalachia, England, Scandinavia, and Canada, as well as dance calling, musical instrument instruction, singing, storytelling, mummer’s play, and basketry. All classes are held on the Berea College campus in Berea, Kentucky.

Dance classes, in particular, are held at all skill levels, this year featuring Contra Dance, Bollywood, Rural/Urban Movement Remix, Clogging, Flatfooting/Tap Connection, Ontario Step-Dancing, English Country Dance, English Village Dances, Appalachian Big Sets and Squares, Danish, Scandinavian, Rapper, Longsword and Morris. Every evening, talented musicians provide gorgeous live music for social dances from England, Appalachia, New England, and Scandinavia. Each dance is taught so everyone may participate. Every day there are also two sessions of community singing, story-telling and sharing, as well as refreshments and social time. As one participant wrote, “the best features were the warm, welcoming, supportive atmosphere – it’s a great place to stretch and try new things. The music was fabulous. Everyone was very talented and very sharing.”

Tuition is $300 if received before December 2, but increases to $325 from December 2 to 12. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until spaces are filled, but no registrations are accepted after December 12. Housing may be provided in dormitory rooms for a very reasonable rate, or may be arranged by participants at local hotels if needed. Meal tickets for the BC dining hall may be purchased, including a gala New Year’s Eve banquet and New Year’s breakfast (meal tickets must be purchased at the time of registration and will not be available after December 12.) Some scholarships are available, in exchange for work. Scholarship applications (found online at the below address) should be submitted with registration and deposit of $75 by November 15.

For more information visit for registration forms, scholarship application, descriptions of classes and staff and photo galleries of past years. Call Laura Magner at 859-985-3431 for other questions, or to have a brochure sent to you.

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: anniversary, Christmas Country Dance School, Dance

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.