Spring 1996 -- Volume XXII#1
Editor: Angel Roman


He Will Be Missed

I find it is my sad duty to write about the passing of Ted Sannella. Ted, a caller, choreographer, and dancer throughout his life, died of cancer at the age of 67 on Nov. 18, 1995.

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.

"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."

From Joe Harrington:
"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

More about Ted Sannella

An Open Letter

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,
Jean Sannella

New England Folk Festival Housing and Hospitality

Although the 1996 52nd New England Folk Festival is still a few months away, it is not too soon to make arrangements for your lodging during the Festival. Enclosed with this newsletter is the Festival flyer listing lodging rates at a number of hotels and motels located in towns near the Natick High School, our Festival site.

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

President's Message

Way back when times were simpler, barter was used as a medium of exchange. People traded goods they had, or services they were able to perform, for goods and services they needed. Transactions were person to person, instead of through the medium of cash.

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

Ralph Page Legacy Weekend

Like postmen, dancers and musicians ignored snow and bad roads to gather at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, for the ninth annual Ralph Page Legacy Weekend. All the events were held back in the newly refurbished Memorial Union Building (MUB). Friday evening featured New Hampshire callers Claire Mattin, Marianne Taylor, Dave Bateman and Dudley Laufman with The Milford Musicians providing the music. Staff callers Don Armstrong, David Millstone and Mary DesRosiers rounded out the program.

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

Summaries of the Minutes of the NEFFA Exec Board

10 September 1995

Call to Order (Nancy Hanssen)
The meeting was called to order at 10:07am by President Nancy Hanssen. There were introductions all around.

Secretary's Report (Dan Pearl)
The minutes of 7 May 1995 were approved.

Treasurer's Report (Ralph Jones)
Ralph circulated a new report. "It was a typical year." Nancy suggested that people analyze the report and bring questions to the next meeting.

Committee Chairs (Nancy Hanssen)
Nancy circulated the proposed committee chair list: Advisors: Larry Jennings (Voting), Ted Sannella (Non-Voting); Family Dance: Jacob Bloom (NV); Grants: Robert Johnson (V); Legal Advisor: Leslie Morrison (V); Membership: Bill Cochran (NV); Publicity: Steve Boylan (NV); Ralph Page Memorial Committee: Ted Sannella (chair, NV), Sam Alexander (NV), George Fogg (NV), Ellen Mandigo (NV), Sylvia Miskoe (NV), Don Parkhurst (NV), Angela Taylor (V), Marianne Taylor (NV), Mary Wakefield (NV), Clay Wilcox (NV); Thursday Night Dance Committee: Dan Pearl (V); Arrangements: Bob Solosko (V); Signs: Diane Biglow (NV), Michael Resnick (NV); Outside Signs: Jack Janssen (V); Children's Crafts: Linda Palmstrom (NV); Crafts: Emily Ferguson (NV); Folk Bazaar: Angela Taylor (V); Food: Mary Wakefield (NV), Don Parkhurst (NV); Hospitality: Shelagh Ellman-Pearl (V); Housing: Elsa Elliott (V); Instrument Check: Michael Anthony (NV); Safety: John Wojtowicz (V); Sound: Michael Bergman (V); Tickets: Claire and David Reid (both V); Volunteers: Nancy Hanssen (V); Program: Janet Yeracaris (V); American Participatory Dance: Lisa Greenleaf (V); Dance Performances: Doris Possi (V); International Couple Dance: Susan Worland (NV); International Line Dance: Jonathan Young (V); Folk Music and Song: Ann Schunior (NV), Suzanne Mrozak (NV); Performer Sales: Beth Parkes (V).

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.

Nominating Committee (Shelagh Ellman-Pearl)
Shelagh presented a progress report about an orientation packet for new Board members. She wanted to know if anyone had any problems with expenses incurred in the production of the manual. No one had any problems with this.

Grants (Robert Johnson)
A recap of recent grants was circulated. Also, the Grants Committee was authorized to allocate up to $5000 for the next fiscal year. Talitha Mackenzie (recipient of NEFFA loan, as yet unrepaid) will be contacted by Leslie Morrison and asked for repayment of the loan.

The meeting adjourned at 10:40am. Separate discussion groups convened.

15 October 1995
Call to Order (Nancy Hanssen)
The meeting was called to order at 1:40pm President Nancy Hanssen. Two guests, Cliff and Linda Gordon (NEFFA members, and organizers of the Worcester contra dance) were introduced.

Secretary's Report (Dan Pearl)
After some corrections, the minutes of the 10 September 1995 meeting were approved.

Treasurer's Report (Ralph Jones)
Ralph entertained questions and received suggestions on the format of the Treasurer's report (distributed last month). The reports was approved.

Committee Chairs (Nancy Hanssen)
Nancy stated that members of committees don't need approval. In general, if an individual will be interacting with the Board, then they should be approved. Nancy proposed the following individuals for approval: Children's Crafts: Linda Palmstrom (Non-Voting); NEFFA News Editor: Angel Roman (Voting); Volunteer Assistant Chairs: Carol Fruitkopf and Beverly Dieter (both NV); Volunteer Sound: Sue Malspeis (NV) and Elsa Elliott (V); Sound Performer Liaison: Stacie Barker (NV).

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.

Web Page (Dan Pearl)
Dan informed the Board of NEFFA's World-Wide-Web (part of the Internet) presence. Leslie expressed concern that she didn't know about it beforehand, and that it seems to be an "official" NEFFA publication. People were concerned that, even though Dan was involved in the creation of the Web pages, that they were not under NEFFA control. The Web pages are currently being provided gratis by Mike Richardson. Dan was asked to prepare a proposal regarding NEFFA WWW presence. It was suggested that this activity might best be handled by the Publicity chair. Jacob thought that the NEFFA Website might be a good place to have the "Calendar" section of the News.

Dan: We have the raw footage for the 1995 NEFFA Video. Lisa: I will be asking University of New Hampshire if they want the tapes.

Exhibits Discussion (Susan Janssen)
Susan presented a synopsis of the retreat session on Exhibits as documented in "Report of discussion at Sept. 1995 Retreat." Based on this, Susan wrote up "Proposal for Space Use Regarding Exhibits Hall." There was a discussion of suitability of various spaces around the schoolfor various things. After a lengthy discussion, it was moved and approved to use the wrestling room (our Exhibits room) as a "hands-on" room.

Family Dance Report (Jacob Bloom)
The Family Dance will be running as it has in the past.

Thursday Night Dance Committee (Dan Pearl)
Attendance is slightly down from the previous year, but this is not a cause for concern. The dance is quite successful and popular.

Goodwill (Nancy Hanssen)
Nancy stated that the Goodwill subgroup recommended that committees that use complementary tickets give reports to the Board on how those tickets are used. No one had problems with this. Nancy requested committee chairs to provide this information.

Arrangements (Bob Solosko)
Interesting items from Bob's written report were presented, including Kitchen layout changes, matron cost (going to $30/hour, up from $10/hour), room usage, courtyard usage (we can use it; we can even put up a tent!), shuttle bus details (two buses will be put on remote route), player piano details, etc. School rent charge is stable, but labor charge is going up. A lot. There are higher charges for pianos, electrician, and the shuttle bus, resulting in additional Arrangements expense of $3000. People encouraged Bob to get agreements with Natick Labs and the bus people. Bob will cost out a bus for just peak hours (at the conclusion of the Festival). There will be another walk-through of the school just before the next meeting. Bob wants to get rental requirements in by January.

Hospitality (Shelagh Ellman-Pearl)
Budget and timeline were presented. Parking organizer should talk with Safety and Hospitality chairs.

Program (Janet Yeracaris)
Budget and timeline were presented. The budget is a lot like last year. Tentative ballot mailing date is March 17th, but this should be confirmed with Jonathan.

Tickets (David and Claire Reid)
Ticket specimens were presented. We need to know by the February meeting what special tickets are needed and what you want them to say.

Ralph wanted to ensure that sound contracts be handled professionally. Various stabs at motions to require signed contracts before payment is made did not result in a seconded motion.

Grants (Robert Johnson)
A risk-sharing loan of $250 has been made to the Orchard School for an expanded English Dance series. The Jacqueline Schwab recording project is not yet producing income; this is why this loan is still outstanding. The loan to Talitha Mackenzie (nee Nelson) will likely never be repaid, as she is in Scotland.

T-Shirts (Lisa Greenleaf)
A meeting to discuss what to do with NEFFA T-Shirts will take place immediately before the December meeting. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

The meeting adjourned at 4:40pm.
3 December 1995

Call to Order (Nancy Hanssen)
The meeting was called to order at 1:45pm by President Nancy Hanssen.

Secretary's Report (Dan Pearl)
There were no corrections to the minutes of the 15 October 95 meeting. Between meetings, the officers, by phone vote, approved the purchase of a condolence plant gift to Jean Sannella.

Treasurer's Report (Ralph Jones)
The Ralph Page Memorial Fund has received $600 in Ted Sannella's memory. Food and Drink Outside of the Cafeteria (Lisa Greenleaf) A proposal to allow vendors tied to their booths permission to take food out of the cafeteria was moved and approved.

NEFFA Webpage (Dan Pearl)
Steve Boylan will be taking this on. He wants to work with editorial oversight. The page will be under our control. Steve is surveying Internet provider possibilities. Steve will be making a proposal at a future meeting.

Booth Fees (Shelagh Ellman-Pearl)
A proposal outlining several alternatives for NEFFA to recover some costs from vendors was presented. A proposal was made and approved. Booths will be notified of the new fee structure.

Contracts (Leslie Morrison)
Leslie proposed a procedure to allow her, as legal advisor, to inspect contracts before they are signed. The motion was approved.

NEFFA T-Shirts (Lisa Greenleaf)
The ad hoc T-shirt committee is Lisa, Elsa, John, Dan and Bob. They are in favor of a 4- or 5-year design, with the color and date changing each year. During that period, the committee will solicit designs from artists, and the if the design is spectacular, it may be used even before the previous design had been used its 4 or 5 years. Alternatives for reimbursing the artist were listed. Reimbursement limits and exclusivity restrictions were approved.

Standing Search Committee (Michael Bergman)
Michael presented his proposal for a committee to identify and recruit important volunteers. Jack Janssen and Elsa Elliott took on the responsibility to act as a clearinghouse for this kind of information.

Food (Mary Wakefield)
We are becoming more concerned about health issues. The inspector has been impressed in the past by our procedures. Food needs to be prepared in authorized, certified kitchens. We are working on how to conform to this. If some vendor can't comply, I will replace them as I see fit. If someone proposes "Kid Food" (hot dogs, burgers, PB&J, soup, etc.) I will grab them in a second, as I see a need for this. Michael: Consider encouraging all vendors to have some kid food.

Housing (Elsa Elliott)
Budget is available. Don't distribute my phone number to the general public. For Housing inquiries, have people write Elsa.

Instrument Check and Safety (Shelagh Ellman-Pearl)
Time lines and budgets are available.

Ralph Page Legacy Weekend (Nancy Hanssen)
Things are on track. The committee will reconstitute itself following the weekend.

Arrangements (Bob Solosko)
Need rental requirements by next meeting (Jan. 28). If I don't hear from you, I will assume that you want last year's rentals. We have two new rooms: a room above the Natick Room, and S200, a classroom near Performer Sales.

Sound (Michael Bergman)
The proposal was to spend pretty much the same as last year. The main hall contractor might not be available this year; we are investigating a replacement via networking instead of open bid. To reduce costs, we are considering going back to volunteer sound for the Auditorium. We are also considering purchasing large pieces of equipment (with a 5-year payback).

The meeting adjourned at 5:10pm.

1996 Festival Committee Chairs

ArrangementsBob Solosko
SignsDiane Biglow & Michael Resnick
CraftsEmily Ferguson
Folk Bazaar Angela Taylor
Food Mary Wakefield & Don Parkhurst
Hospitality Shelagh Ellman-Pearl
Housing Elsa Elliot
Instrument Check Michael Anthony
Safety John Wojtowicz
Sound Michael Bergman
Performer Sales Beth Parkes
Tickets Claire & Dave Reid
Volunteers Nancy Hanssen
Program Janet Yeracaris
Activity Room Linda Palmstrom

Copyright © 1996 New England Folk Festival Association