New England Dancing Masters:
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, Andy Davis and Mary Cay Brass are all professional dance musicians, callers, and dance teachers. All have extensive experience teaching dance to elementary school students, both as music teachers and as artists-in-residence. They have time-tested the dances and singing games published here in classrooms and at community dances all over the country.
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon are versatile and widely respected as performers and teachers who have dedicated their careers as artists to traditional song, dance, and storytelling.
They are in demand throughoutthe United States as clinicians leading Orff and Kodaly elementary school music teacher workshops on traditional dance, song and storytelling. The
Amidons have been headliners at several AOSA and OAKE national conferences and are honored to be members of the AOSA Advocacy Council. The Amidons' choral arrangements for adults and children are being sung by choruses throughout the United States and the UK. The Amidons are both former elementary school music teachers. For more information please visit http://www.amidonmusic.com.
In the fall of 1976 Andy Davis walked into a small dance hall in Unity, New Hampshire. A contra dance was in progress and, having recently moved to New England from Virginia, Andy was looking for a way to “fit in.” Finding the musicians friendly, he volunteered to play piano to accompany the fiddler and concertina player. This joyful evening of traditional dance music —plus an entirely unexpected twelve dollars! — led to a steady schedule of dances for the next forty years.
Andy now plays accordion, piano and banjo, as well as calling dances and teaching music in the public schools of Vermont. Andy has appeared as a dance musician, leading dance and song at many well-known traditional music and dance camps throughout the United States.
Andy’s calling of square and contra dances is often for the benefit of community dances where dancers of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to join in. His commitment to promoting traditional dance in schools and communities led him to start, along with Peter and Mary Alice Amidon and Mary Cay Brass, New England Dancing Masters, publishers of books, recordings and a video for teachers and recreation leaders.
For thirty years Andy performed throughout new England with Nowell Sing We Clear, a concert of mid-winter carols, with Tony Barrand, John Roberts and Fred Breunig. The group specializes in traditional songs, shape-note hymns and instrumental dance music and customs from Christian and pagan traditions.
Andy lives with his family in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Mary Cay Brass
Mary Cay worked for 8 years as a classroom music teacher in public and private schools in southern Vermont. She now, in addition to leading two highly successful community choirs, works as an artist-in-residence in New England schools, working thematically with teachers to create programs of songs and folk dances.
In the 1970’s she spent two-and-a-half years in the former Yugoslavia studying traditional song and dance on a Fulbright Scholarship. She has put out two recordings and song/dance collections of this music entitled Village Harmony and Balkan Bridges.
Since the early 1980’s she has been playing for traditional New England contra dances all over the country.On both piano and accordion she has the rhythmic drive and energy that make her a much sought after musician. She has a number of CD’s of traditional dance music to her name, available at Great Meadow Music.
“In Mary Cay’s classes every student participates with their complete spirit, expressing joy in each song or dance and working together on a very high level. She is a master music teacher. Within a few hours students are singing with gusto. The final performance is magical and brings great enjoyment to both the audience and performers. Mary Cay is an extremely skillful and creative teacher with an impeccable sense of timing which keeps the group focused at all times.
MC is one of the finest teachers I have ever worked with.”