Christmas Country Dance School Registration Opens

Registration for the annual Christmas Country Dance School at Berea College is now open.

Each year, participants spend part of the holiday season at a cozy event dedicated to fun, music, friendship, learning, sharing, and dance, a celebration of individual creativity within a supportive community atmosphere. Christmas Country Dance School (CCDS) at Berea College provides a festive environment to try something new, participate in ancient traditions, and forge new traditions.

Every day from December 26-31, sessions will feature instruction for storytellers, musicians, basket-makers, and dancers. Participants can learn to clog, waltz or play music for dances.

Starting in 1938 as a training ground for dance leaders, CCDS has become a much loved tradition that mixes youth (age 13 or older) and adults, beginner and experienced participants, with local, national, and international staff. A Community Youth Program for children ages 5-12 is held each afternoon.

Each day offers 5 sessions of classes, with 6-10 choices for each session, including many classes in folk dance from Appalachia, England, and even Bollywood, as well as dance calling, musical instrument instruction, singing, storytelling, mummer’s play, or making Japanese Temari embroidered thread balls and Appalachian-style baskets. Jean Ritchie’s memory will be honored this year by a class taught by her son, Jon Pickow, about Ritchie family songs and stories. There are several other classes in duet or group 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, English clog dance, English Country Dance, Appalachian Big Sets, Rapper, Longsword, and Cotswold Morris. Classes in calling various styles of dance and playing in a dance band are very popular. Concerts with the internationally-known staff are held in the afternoons. Every evening, talented musicians provide live (and lively) music for social dances from England, Appalachia, and New England. Each dance is taught so everyone may participate. There are two daily sessions of community singing, story-telling and sharing, as well as refreshments and social time.

Christmas Country Dance School tuition is $325 if received before December 1, but increases to $350 from December 2 to 10. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until spaces are filled, but no registrations are accepted after December 10. Housing may be provided in Berea College  residence halls for a very reasonable rate, or may be arranged by participants at local hotels. 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 10.)

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 receive a brochure. 

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

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 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, earning 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.