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Celebrating Tom!

Photo courtesy Arthur Ferguson.

This past weekend, I was pleased to attend the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award ceremony for Tom Kruskal. The Lifetime Contribution is presented annually to individuals who have made a long-term and exceptional contribution to the mission of CDSS. In 2010, there were two recipients: John Ramsay and Tom Kruskal. John Ramsay’s award was given on October 16, 2010 in St. Louis. You can read about that here (pdf).

CDSS presented Tom Kruskal his award in Framingham, MA, on Saturday, April 2, where the greater Boston dance community celebrated Tom, and enjoyed one incredible party. For more than 40 years, Tom has — among many other things — nurtured morris and sword dancing in America, most recently establishing teams and mentoring innumerable young dancers.

The Celebrate Tom! Committee (Karen Axelrod, Deborah Kruskal, David Fleischmann-Rose, Erika Roderick, and Andra Horton) did a superlative job organizing the party and planning the program. Over 300 people, from the Revels community, Tom’s church, and the music and dance community, joined in the festivities. Many past and present CDSS Governing Board members came, as did members of the CDSS staff — these are their impressions.

Candyrapper taking the stage. Photo courtesy Arthur Ferguson.

Brad Foster, CDSS Executive Director: “The mix of youth and longtime CDSS members was fabulous and it was wonderfully overwhelming to be there. I would turn around and say, ‘I haven’t seen you in years’ and then turn around again and say the same thing.”

Steve Howe, CDSS Assistant Director of Programs: “It was a terrific gathering for someone who so clearly deserves it. Seeing seven sets of Great Meadows teams dance Cotswold was a great joy; I’m only sorry I was standing up so people behind me couldn’t see.” [Steve is over 6' feet tall.]

Robin Hayden, Associate Director of Development: “Having worked at CDSS for over 20 years, I well remember a time when we worried about the future of morris. Well — our worries are SO over! It’s clear, from the national perspective we have at CDSS, that the widening ripples of this ‘youth quake’ — arising from Tom’s work and that of many other dedicated leaders — have had a profound effect on the whole culture of American and English dance across the continent. Morris on!”

Tom's supporters managed to fill a large stage. Photo courtesy Marty Stock.

As for me, it was both joyful and moving to be there. I had a wonderful time, reconnecting with old friends, helping out at the greeting table, and watching the spectacular dancing from Candyrapper, Pinewoods Morris Men, New Moon Sword, and Tom’s kids and teen teams: Hop Brook and Great Meadows Morris & Sword — with music by Tom, and others, on concertina.

Here’s a video from Emily Ferguson of PMM dancing at the ceremony:

At the greeting table there were two baskets of ribbons, for past and present members of Hop Brook and Great Meadows to wear. A little girl was looking wistfully at the basket and obviously was torn about whether she could take one or not. She disappeared and reappeared a minute later with her Mom, who asked, “Can future members of the teams take a ribbon?” This little girl’s older siblings are team members, and she has been waiting more than eagerly to join Hop Brook herself and now that she is 9 1/2 years old, the moment is in sight. Past, present, and FUTURE — give that girl a ribbon!

– Pat

Visit cdss.org for an interview I did with Tom, music samples, and a tribute & chronology.

Joel Gonzalez also posted two nice YouTube videos of Great Meadows singing “The Parting Glass” and their rapper finale. Thanks!

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