Northwest Passage Dance Camp
Labor Day Weekend, September 2 to 5, 2022


Alchemy brings together three dynamic players steeped in traditional English Country Dance and Contra Dance music. Individually, they have performed across the United States, Canada, and Europe. As a trio, their improvisatory style brings a contemporary and innovative feel to both traditional and newly composed tunes and songs. From driving Scottish Reels to French Mazurkas and everything in between, "Alchemy" delights the listener with heartfelt performances with a touch of whimsy. Alchemy released their debut CD in 2020, "Turning of the Hour", available for sale.

Rachel Bell started out as a serious classical pianist, took a brief side trip to the bagpipes, and accidentally fell in love with the accordion when her college flute teacher unexpectedly foisted one on her. Now based in Brattleboro, VT, she hauls her accordion all over North America and even overseas, sharing her contagious enthusiasm for the instrument and forging authentic connections with audiences everywhere. She draws her inspiration from Celtic, French, English, Quebecois, and New England traditions and thrives on collaborative work with her bands. This performer, tunesmith, and teacher is sought after for concerts, contra dances, French bal folk dances, English country dances, workshops, and festivals.

Equally at home on fiddle and viola, Eric Martin is a dance musician who brings joy and soulful expression to many folk dance idioms. Through the freedom and improvisation inherent in traditional music, Eric enjoys the opportunity to break away from his Classical background while playing for English country dances, contra dances, festivals, balls, camps, and concerts throughout the United States and Canada with Alchemy, Axelrod-Martin duo, and Coincidance. Eric holds performance degrees from Ithaca College and the University of Limerick, Ireland and lives and works at Gould Farm, a therapeutic farming community, in the Berkshires.

Karen Axelrod left the world of classical music over 30 years ago, and has found her home in the folk world. She is highly regarded for her creative piano playing at English, American and Scottish dance events around the U.S. (including Pinewoods Dance Camps, Ogontz, Buffalo Gap, Berea Christmas Country Dance Week, The John C. Campbell Folk School, and BACDS events) and abroad. Her improvisational playing is lyrical, yet is touched with humor and whimsy. Karen is a member of the bands Foxfire, Alchemy, Peregrine Road, Axelrod-Martin duo, and 3rd String Trio. She also plays accordion for the renowned longsword team, Orion.

The Whoots play a blend of English Country, Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, Old Time music, and contra dance tunes.

Multi-instrumentalist Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring early and other intriguing styles of music. A member for many years of countless early music ensembles, she also is the founder of Class V Music, a group dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips. Shira performs now with several groups, among them English Country/Contra dance bands including Roguery and The Whoots, and collaborates with performers such as storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, poets Jane Hirshfield and Kay Ryan, clown Jeff Raz, and in many theatrical and dance productions, including the California Revels and the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals. The strangest place Shira has played is in the elephant pit of the Jerusalem Zoo.

Jim Oakden went to college on a music scholarship, but ended up in grad school as a marine biologist. However, he continued to avidly pursue music, first via Early Music, and then as a dance musician. He continues to perform with many bands in a host of genres on an absurd array of instruments. He is very dedicated to passing on his knowledge at symposia, workshops, and dance and music camps from the East Coast (Pinewoods, etc) to Fairbanks, Alaska, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain—and many places in between. He runs community bands, camp bands, does individual and small group instruction, and has been an instructor at Lark Camp for many years. He appears on 20 or so CDs. Plus, he loves to dance, in many different styles.

Anita Anderson is an extraordinary English country and contra dance pianist, playing with Bag o’ Tricks / Tricky Brits, and other Northwest bands. She is also a superb dancer, and this informs her playing to the dancers’ delight. She brings a large bag of tricks to her piano playing, with influences from do-wop, English, ethnic, and vintage dance music—all in attentive service to the dancers. Her syncopated, harmonically complex use of the keyboard has transported many a listener to Dance Nirvana. Anita is an excellent singer, Scandinavian musician and dancer, and composer of contra and English country dance tunes.

Gene Murrow is known for his clear and brief teaching, cogent historical commentary, good humor in all situations, and presentation of the aesthetic characteristics of English country dance qualifying it as a significant genre of art, which we create collectively.

He has been an English country dancer and musician since 1965, and has taught and called at clubs, workshops, festivals, and balls throughout the United States as well as England, Europe, Canada, and Japan. He has attended Pinewoods Camp as a CDSS staff member almost every year since 1965, and has chaired Early Music Week, English Dance Week, and English/American Dance weeks several times each.

Gene is author of a resource guide and training curriculum on musicianship for English country dance teachers—the basis of a course offered at the Pinewoods, Mendocino, and Berea country dance workshops in the United States.

photo by Rachel Winslow

Melissa Running discovered she could take folk dance for PE credit in college in the early ’90s, and hasn’t looked back since. A few years later she started playing for dances and then calling English in the Philadelphia area. She now lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., calls nationally, plays piano for English and Scottish country dancing, and plays the nyckelharpa for pleasure and for Swedish dancing (and a little Norwegian, and sometimes English). In the last several years she's taken to writing tunes and often composing dances to go with them. In addition to her music and dance activities, she works at linguistic precision as a technical writer and editor, and knits with the zeal of the newly converted.

Highly regarded by dancers, musicians, and callers for his high-quality sound work, John Oorthuys has handled the board for many dances, balls, camps, and special events for PCDC and surrounding Pacific Northwest communities. He has been the camp sound engineer for years and years, and his wizardry makes the sound fantastic.