From 1950 to 1971 Ted ran a weekly dance series in Cambridge, Mass. He called for a weekly summer dance in Westport, Mass. from 1952 to 1990. At the time of his death he was still calling for two monthly series, as well as dance weekends and dance camps. In his life he had called in 36 states and 5 foreign countries. He had put an equal effort into dance organization. He served on the Executive Board of NEFFA since 1947, and anyone who attends the Festival regularly will remember that it had become a tradition for him to call the last dance of the weekend each year. He had also, over the years, served in many other dance and folk organizations, including the annual planning of the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend.
While it is sad to see Ted go, I find that it is also my happy duty to write about what he left behind. I didn't know Ted very well, and in asking people about him I have heard again and again about his dedication, enthusiasm, and legacy to future generations. His wife Jean was particularly kind in letting me read the many e-mails that she and Ted received during his illness and after his death, all with fond remembrances. These messages came from all over the U.S. and beyond. I would like to share with you some of the stories I heard.
From Phil Goode-Elliot:
"I'll never forget when I first met Ted. It was the 75th Anniversary Dance Weekend for CDSS at the Michigan League Ballroom. I got there early to help set up before the caller's workshop. I was walking across the hall towards the stage when a fellow walking the other way came towards me and asked, 'Care to swing?' Of course, I complied and we spun around madly, grinning at each other for a few moments before heading on in our original directions. It wasn't until the workshop started that I realized the other fellow was Ted. I didn't know him well, but I'll certainly miss him."From Paul McCullough:
"In my memories, I see Ted at Lady of the Lake, NEFFA, Mendecino, Seattle. I hear him calling dances and I recall conversations at his house and mine. Sitting, talking, swapping dances at his dining room table on Cedar Street. In his office, he sought my opinion on using a particular audio tape of Ralph for a Ralph Page weekend. He looked sad and said 'I really miss that voice.' I now know what he meant."From Mary Beth Goodman:
"He leaves a great legacy for [our] community, from his wonderful kind humor to his terrific dances to his allegiance to the contra dance tradition and his ability to work with it to make it ever new and alive. "Ted will live on in our remembrances of him, be they of dances, festivals or camps, quiet times or not; in our dancing and our community. His legacy to dancing will be continued by those who share his enthusiasm, search for excellence and respect for the tradition and the continuation of contra dancing both in the writing of dances and the joyful experience of dancing itself."From Carl Dreher - an e-mail sent to Ted during his illness:
"One incident that sums up 'Ted-ism' in my mind occurred a few years ago at a National Board meeting [of CDSS]. Remember when we were having all those gender-balance discussions? Everyone weighed in with their opinion, myself included, and the conversation jumped all over the extremes. About the time it seemed that we had reached an impasse, you calmly volunteered that your solution to the problem would be to write more three-person dances that didn't require balanced genders. I was stunned at the simple beauty of that idea. (I also felt pretty foolish and small.) While the rest of us were arguing philosophy, you quietly came up with a solution."From Ben Hale:
"I lived in Brunswick for five years, and though I didn't know him personally, I saw enough of him to be affected by him. I loved dancing at North Whitefield because, in addition to there always being great and fun people, Ted always made it open to everyone.From Joe Harrington:
"When I brought friends to the dance who had never danced before, more often than not Ted would come up to them while they were waiting out at the top of the set and tell them that they were doing great and that it was great to see new people dancing. What a great thing it must be to be able to look back on your life and know that you had such a positive influence on so many people."
"For those who haven't danced to his calling, Ted is credited as being a key initiator of the contra dance revival. Years ago, he started calling dances that were a little different from what we now call the 'olde chestnuts'. Moves went with the music, following the phrase. Body flow improved. More people were in motion at any given time, and rigid "proper" dances became less common. More people started going and more dances started happening. Many callers, musicians, and dancers have contributed to the explosive evolution of the form since Ted's early days as a caller -- else it wouldn't be folk. But remember Ted Sannella as key among the early pioneers. One person can make a difference."One recurring theme I kept hearing over and over again was "I met my wife/husband at one of Ted's dances." One of these stories was particularly intriguing to me because it so clearly demonstrates the continuation of the tradition. Mary Alice and Peter Amidon met at one of Ted's Cambridge dances in September on 1975. Three years later they were married. They are both still very active in the community, teaching traditional dance in elementary schools throughout the Northeast as part of their patchwork performing career in traditional music, dance, and storytelling. In addition, their two sons, aged 14 and 11, have formed a contra dance band with another boy, also 14. The band is called Popcorn Behavior and has been very well received. I wonder if Ted had any idea what he was starting.
Another theme I heard repeatedly was what an inspiration Ted was to new callers. Many people said "I started calling because of Ted" or "Ted gave me wonderful advice as a young caller." Tony Parkes said "I can't think of anyone who combined all those qualities: the people skills, the technical skills, and the leadership. On one hand it's great that he inspired so many young callers, but on the other it's going to take all of us to fill his shoes. He left some mighty big footprints."
-- Angel Roman
All of our family would like to thank everyone in the dance community for their messages of love and support during this most difficult time. It really helps to know that so many friends share our sorrow.
With our love,
Over the past couple of years, there has been a need for housing for people with allergies to animals. If you have pet-free space, please consider offering housing. It is a great way to meet fellow Festival goers. Please do not be deterred if you have pets and wish to offer space. We need all of you!!
If you would like assistance in obtaining hospitality with folks in the Boston-Natick area, or if you live near the Festival site and are willing to put up some out of town Festival guests, please send a business sized SASE to Elsa A. Elliott, 28 Grove Street, Medford, MA 02155 and request a Housing Request/Volunteer Form. Thanks and look forward to seeing you in April.
-- Elsa Elliot
Every once in a while I read about a group of people trying to make their lives less impersonal by doing something similar today, whether it be a baby sitting group or a food co-op, where labor is exchanged for a benefit or a reduced fee. NEFFA is another group that uses barter. Our loyal volunteer force exchanges work for admission to the Festival -- an hour's work for each Festival session they want to attend. Everyone benefits: we get the labor we need to put on the Festival, without having to incur costs which would drive prices higher, and our volunteers earn the chance to enjoy the Festival without charge.
This is the time of year to start thinking about joining the volunteer group for the 1996 Festival, which will again be at the Natick High School, April 19 - 21. Volunteer recruitment flyers will be mailed out with the NEFFA ballot on March 17, and will also be available at dances and at the NEFFA office. They are due back on April 5 for preference in assignments, though latecomers can often be assigned a shift. Assignment postcards will be mailed on April 13. Many people offer their time year after year, finding their volunteer activities to be an important part of their enjoyment of the Festival. I hope many more of you will accept this invitation to join us as volunteers and become more intimately involved with NEFFA.
Back awhile also there was a man named Ralph Page who did an enormous amount to promote and preserve contra dancing, New England's traditional dance form. For the past nine years the Ralph Page Memorial Committee of NEFFA has been producing the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend, held the second weekend of January at the University of New Hampshire. Having just returned from that weekend I can say with enthusiasm that it is a wonderful event, reviving the traditional style of contra dancing in a current context, as well as providing good food and fine company in lovely surroundings. I look forward to the tenth annual Ralph Page weekend next year, and encourage others to come and try it.
Back not so long ago there was another man who did and enormous amount to promote and preserve dancing in New England and elsewhere. There is a lot more about Ted Sannella elsewhere in this issue. I just want to say that he will be sorely missed.
-- Nancy Hanssen
Highlights of the Saturday program included a selection of Duke Miller's dances called by Mary DesRosiers, Triple Minor contras that have evolved into duples, led by David Millstone, How to play rhythm backup by Keith Murphy, and An Evening at Porter Square. This was the first weekend that was not spearheaded by Ted Sannella, and as a tribute to Ted, George Fogg created a mini-replica of Ted's Friday night dances in Porter Square, Cambridge, Mass. While George used the musicians for the squares and contras, he provided original tapes for the folk dances. These slightly scratchy records helped to bring back the atmosphere of those Friday evening dances, fondly remembered by so many of the dancers.
Weekend musicians were Becky Tracy, Keith Murphy and Jeremiah McLane of Nightingale and the trio of Bob McQuillen, Fred Breunig and Andy Davis. At appropriate times, they all welcomed sit-ins. Meals were provided by The New England Center, a short walk from the MUB where the dancing took place. In contrast with Friday's weather, the remainder of the weekend was clear and seasonably brisk.
Sunday included a talk by state folklorist Jill Linzee, an open mike session, and Ralph Page contras called by Don Armstrong. In the afternoon, everyone gathered for a final dance, the stage was full of musicians and the atmosphere was mellow. Dancers chatted about sore feet while lining up for another dance. The final waltz, Penobscot Memory, written by Vince O'Donnell, was dedicated to Ted Sannella's memory, with the feeling that Ted was with us in spirit.
-- Sylvia Miskoe
Emily thought that presentation of Children's Crafts Chair for approval was premature given that the resolution of the Exhibits issue had not been reached. Others agreed, and submission of Children's Crafts Chair was withdrawn by Nancy. The list, with the exception of Children's Crafts, was moved. The motion passed by voice vote.
A discussion followed regarding who, in general, needed approval and who could just be appointed by the President. As a result, just the approval of Children's Crafts chair and the NEFFA News editor was moved and approved. [Secretary notes: The original motion was never withdrawn. We are pretending as though the motion never existed.] A discussion ensued about who was approved to submit bills to the Treasurer. It was decided to be informal about it: Chairs tell the Treasurer which people reporting to that chair may or may not submit bills directly to the Treasurer.
|Signs||Diane Biglow & Michael Resnick|
|Folk Bazaar||Angela Taylor|
|Food||Mary Wakefield & Don Parkhurst|
|Instrument Check||Michael Anthony|
|Performer Sales||Beth Parkes|
|Tickets||Claire & Dave Reid|
|Activity Room||Linda Palmstrom|
Copyright © 1996 New England Folk Festival Association