Christmas Country Dance School: A Great Way to Spend the Holidays!

Spend part of your holiday season at a cozy event dedicated to fun, music, friendship, learning, sharing, and dance, a celebration of individual creativity within community in a supportive atmosphere. Christmas Country Dance School at Berea College provides a safe and festive environment to try something new, participate in ancient traditions, and forge some new traditions. Have you admired storytellers, musicians, basket-makers, or cloggers? Would you like to learn to waltz or play music for dances? You, too, can learn these folk skills and meet a wide variety of fascinating people who love to share these activities. 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. We also hold a Community Youth Program for Berea-area children ages 5-12 held each afternoon from Dec. 27-31.

Every day from December 26-31, there are 5 sessions of classes, with 6-10 choices for each session, including many classes in folk dance from Appalachia, England, and Ireland, as well as dance calling, musical instrument instruction, singing, storytelling, mummer’s play, or making Japanese Temari embroidered thread balls and Appalachian-style baskets. This year we feature a class in Balkan singing, Donna Lamb leading a song session, and shape note singing. 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, Appalachian Clogging (including team clogging), square dancing, English Country Dance, dances by Pat Shaw, Appalachian Big Sets, Rapper, and Cotswold Morris. Classes in calling various styles of dance and playing in a dance band are very popular. Every evening, talented musicians provide gorgeous live music for social dances from England, Appalachia, and New England. 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.”

On the business end, tuition received before December 1 is $350, but increases to $375 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 arranged by participants at local hotels. Check with us for possible special rates at selected local motels. For convenience, 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 $100 by November 15th.

More questions? See our webpage at 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. We hope to see you in Berea for Christmas Country Dance School!

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

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.