One Small Step for Dancerkind


Newsletter of the Friendly FolkDancers

Fall 2001


Inside this Issue

“Dance Your Mistake” by Nancy James

Future Tours - Ohio

Future Tours - Chicago FLGC mini-tour

Future Tours - FGC, 2002

Mini-tour Possibility - JCCI Prison

Tour non-Report - Scattergood

Tour Report - South Central USA

Annual Meeting Summary

News of Dancing Friends

Notes on Prison Ministry

Email & Officer Directory



Dance Your Mistake


Life cannot be red-penciled or retyped.

The Menu does not include

Spell Check, Strikeover or Delete.

You can’t even scribble in margins.


Life’s not a diary

but a dance:

If you stumble,

the music flows on

with you, or without.


So, recover the beat,

dance your mistake,

play it off with a flourish:


Make it seem to be

the step you meant

all along.


©2001 Nancy Esther James



Prospective Tours


Ohio Bound

     The annual meeting approved a tour to Ohio for the spring of 2002, with Mark Helpsmeet and Rosemary Coffey acting as co-coordinators. The tour will especially attempt to include visits to meetings associated with Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and, hopefully, to one or more intentional communities in Ohio. There seemed to be a number of dancers at the annual meeting interested in taking part in the tour, so we are holding out the possibility of perhaps sponsoring two tours in the area, though that would call for additional volunteers to coordinate the second tour. Anyone who feels the call to minister with their feet should seriously consider the opportunity to travel among such a diverse assortment of Friends. Conservative Friends are rich in their Quaker heritage, including the roots of Friends as Christians. In addition to a trip to Olney Friends School, we will likely include several FGC-affiliated meetings in the tour as well. Edges, one of the intentional communities that have indicated interest in sponsoring our visit, is a relatively new group trying to find a way to live sustainably on the Earth with the support of a committed group of neighbors.

      We will be “Dancing the World Together” again.  Depend on Rosemary’s dependable organization to supplement Mark’s bounding, but haphazard, energy in bringing together a rewarding tour.

      Contact Mark at or call (715) 874-6646 for further info.



Prison Dancing in Wisconsin

      The possibility of an FFD mini-tour to Jackson County Correctional Institution (JCCI) continues to be only a possibility.  The FFD were invited to consider the possibility by a Quaker chaplain then on the staff at JCCI.  Re-negotiation of the ways in which the program could unfold came, following concerns from the guards on staff about the number of participants and the amount of movement and touch the dancing would involve.  A significant number of the inmates are there for sex-related crimes.  This fact particularly concerned the staff, in terms of providing adequate safeguards against inappropriate contacts, as well as general concerns about providing security in a closely interacting group of people. 

      Participants of Eau Claire Friends Meeting have presented one-hour “Protestant Services” at JCCI in the past 18 months; the experience has been rewarding and moving, and has exposed the inmates and staff to the ministry of Friends.  We still need to know of potentially interested dancers.  Exploration of possibilities in other prisons is being carried out by Sophie de la Mar and Grace Valentine, as well as an attempt to refine our purposes in carrying our ministry into the prisons.  (See related report by Sophie de la Mar below.)


Dancing at the FGC Gathering

      Nightly folk dancing was again available at the FGC Gathering held this past July in Virginia.  The room was beautiful and the turnout was very good as well.  The first night was an international potluck of dances, followed by evenings of swing dancing, sacred circle and meditative dances, Romanian dances, vintage ballroom dances, and, finally, an international  assortment  highlighting Israeli dances.

 Lots of people showed up to dance, and the number of folks who shared in the teaching enriched the experience.  There seems to be considerable enthusiasm from leaders for next year as well, and Mark has again agreed to organize the schedule.  New teachers and helpers are always welcome—just indicate your interest on the tour interest form on page seven.  ¯


Another Opportunity . . .

      Sophie reported another opportunity, which has been added to our possibilities for the coming year.  She e-mailed, “Brayton and I have been asked by our meeting to find out if the Friendly FolkDancers would be able to come to dance as part of the FLGC (Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns) Midwinter Gathering, which our meeting is hosting this year.  They are asking for participation in the evening program which is on the Saturday of the weekend that includes February 9th.”  ¯



Tour Reports


The Scattergood/Iowa Tour That Didn’t Happen

by Mark Judkins Helpsmeet


     The FFD approved Mark Helpsmeet to organize a one-month folk dance course at Scattergood Friends School in Iowa for this past spring, but alas, things did not go as projected. Due to a combination of changes in demographics of the student body, some confusion related to staff changes, and other factors, there were not enough students to hold the class. Dominos fell, and the proposed Iowa-based FFD tour also fell by the wayside. Though such a class might be possible in the future, there are no current plans to try the experiment this coming year.


The FFD Visits Friends in South Central U.S.A.

by Ellen Brooks


   Tour members Bonnie Beverstock, Barbara Houghton, David Houghton, Peli Lee, and Lorene Ludy, along with co-coordinators Nancy Schofield and Ellen Brooks, participated in the tour to the South Central Yearly Meeting area of the U. S. A. from January 1 to 14, 2001. The tour began in Dallas with an enthusiastic audience of 30 Quakers, Unitarians, and other friends. This was our most diverse group of participants and they all participated. The potential of being scattered over the huge Dallas area was circumvented by the consideration of our contact person in arranging for our host homes and for the practice/performance site to be west of the downtown area.

   In Hope, AR, our second stop, we were all hosted in one home, which gave us time to become bonded as a group while we shared with the small Caddo Friends Worship Group, attenders of which come from as much as two hours away. We were happy that the residual effects of their Christmas ice storm had mostly been dealt with by the time we arrived.


Bunny Hop Lutherans, Artistic Presbyterians

   Next stop was the Shreveport (LA) Lutheran Church, where the one known Quaker in that city attends with her husband, the president of the congregation. The 35 Lutherans were an appreciative audience and even became excited about the new form of the “I Want to Be a Quaker” Quaker Quest Game we had originated on the drive

south. We danced the Bunny Hop to “Lord of the Dance,” instigated by the teenagers.    North to Little Rock on Monday: We danced in a Presbyterian church, the congregation of which began as a house church and continues to emphasize the arts, leading to a racially well-integrated group. The potluck was at the Quaker Meetinghouse. Although the contact person had advertised widely, the attendance at the program was light, leading us once again to wonder how better to get the word out about the content of our ministry.

      Our day off was largely absorbed by the meeting about, and the purchase of, a new sound system for The Friendly FolkDancers.  Since we’d needed to borrow one for the previous three performances when the FFD system we’d brought with us failed to work well, the group decided it was time to buy one for the whole organization.  We rewarded ourselves for our hard work by spending an hour at Pinnacle Peak State Park near Little Rock.  Later in Fayetteville, AR, we shared a Thai meal and ice cream before dispersing to our hosts.

      Wednesday brought us to a nursing home with about 50 in the audience in the afternoon, followed by a program on the University of Arkansas campus in the evening after a mid-week Meeting for Worship with the local Friends.


On to Oklahoma . . .

      On we drove to Hominy, OK, where we were greeted by a sign at the Friends Meetinghouse: “Welcome Folkdancers, 7 pm Thursday.”  Our program was across the street from the Osage Reservation and was attended by both Native Americans and others.  The pastor of the meeting is also a university teacher of German and active in the Osage community, the history of which he shared with us. 

      On our way out of town on Friday, we enjoyed the many murals and sculptures with Native American themes.  Stopping at a jewelry and art store for postcards, we met the owner, who is also the creator of many of these pieces of art.  A second stop at the Osage Indian Museum in Pawhuska helped us understand more of the history and current circumstances of the Osage Nation.

      In Tulsa, our program site was one of the two interracial churches in the city (the other being the Oral Roberts church).  We began with about 12 people in the audience, but 10 young people joined us partway through and added loads of enthusiasm to the participation dancing.  After hearing the story of the Green County (Tulsa) Monthly Meeting, all of the tour members spent the night at the retreat house next to the church.  Our Quaker contacts joined us for early Meeting for Worship before our departure on Saturday morning.


. . . and Back to Texas

      The last Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business of the tour took place in the first Texas store of our favorite ice cream chain.  Evaluation of this tour and recommendations for future tours occupied most of the agenda.

      The staff of the Fort Worth retirement center, where we gave our last program of the tour, were somewhat reticent upon our arrival, since their Activity Director was not on duty.  However, they warmed up as they saw us all pitch in with setting up for the program, as we always do.  The audience of 45 people, including a few Quakers, was happy to watch our performance although few joined in on the game and participation dancing.  We hastened to pack up for the last time, say our good-byes, and set out for the homes of our hosts in Fort Worth and Dallas.  These helpful folks delivered us to airports and the Amtrak station in both cities, before and after Meetings for Worship, depending on our individual schedules.

            We enjoyed the tour and one another so much that we held a reunion of all the Wisconsin members of the group (we missed you, Peli) in March.  We highly recommend that to other tour groups when possible.  ¯


Extracts from Minutes of 2001 FFD Annual Meeting


The 2001 Annual Meeting of the Friendly FolkDancers was held at the home of David and Barbara Houghton, McFarland, Wisconsin, on Saturday, August 4.  Present were Sharon Bell, Bonnie Beverstock, Ellen Brooks, Rosemary Coffey (clerk), Sophie de la Mar, Zig Dermer, Mark Helpsmeet (recording), Sandra Helpsmeet, Barbara Houghton, David Houghton, and Grace Valentine.


Treasurer’s Report:  Bonnie Beverstock, Treasurer, reported a balance in the General Fund of $2,609.69 compared to last year’s balance of $1,448.18.  The total balance for the Designated Funds (videos, international exchanges, international scholarships, international tour seed money, tape library, sound system, T Shirt scholarships) came to $4,874.76, compared to last year’s balance of $5,338.10.  The total amount in hand this year was, therefore, $7,484.45, compared to last year’s total of $6,786.38.


Tour Coordinator’s Handbook:  Sophie de la Mar agreed to be the new Curator of the Handbook and to put together a revised version thereof.  Copies of the handbook that are now out would be collected and updated.  Sandra Helpsmeet would provide a new list of costumes and properties along with a description of their past uses.  Jane Blount’s sheets would be converted into electronic form by scanning or retyping.  Ellen Brooks was to send corrections from the last reading on the South Central tour.


South Central Tour Report:  Ellen Brooks and David Houghton reported on the South Central tour, which presented 8 programs in 11 days in 4 states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  Only one program was held at a Friends Meetinghouse, the rest being sited at a variety of churches and senior citizen centers.  A new sound system was purchased in the course of the tour, due to problems with the old one, and generous donations produced a large profit for the FFD General Fund.  The Quaker Quest Game was reinvented as the “I Want to be a Quaker Game.”


The following recommendations were forwarded by the tour group to the Annual Meeting:

Acquire additional larger-size women’s costumes.

Develop more background information for game questions.

Add authentic Native American dances to performances and teaching.

Revise the FFD logo to make it more universal.

Obtain a new folding zipper clothes bag.

Various attenders accepted responsibility for carrying out these suggestions.


Other tours:  (1 The proposed class and tour based from Scattergood did not take place, for several reasons, and there were no immediate plans for resurrecting it for the future.  (2) Bonnie Beverstock led simple folk dances at the U Nah Li Ah (Fox Valley Friends Retreat) as a representative of the FFD; 7-8 adults and 1-5 kids participated in about 1½ hours of dancing.  Bonnie was invited back for the 2001 retreat.  (3) The nightly folk dancing at the FGC Gathering, sponsored by the FFD, was very well received and attended.  Two of the six nights were couples dancing; one each featured Romanian, Meditative Circle, and mostly Israeli dances; and the first was a “potluck” selection of dances.


Future tour plans: 

(1) Mark offered a proposal for a 2002 tour to Ohio, with special emphasis on arranging programs with Conservative Friends.  The proposed tour was approved, with Mark and Rosemary to act as co-coordinators.


(2) Following a visit by members of the Eau Claire Friends Meeting (including several FFD members) to the Jackson County Correctional Institute (JCCI) for a Quaker-based “Protestant Service,” discussions had ensued about offering a folk dance program to the inmates.  Difficulties were raised by prison administration limitations on touch, movement, and size of groups.  Though exploration is continuing, the likelihood of an FFD program at JCCI is not great.  Grace and Sophie volunteered to research other such options, including, perhaps, women’s prisons.  In considering the purposes of offering our program to prison inmates, we agreed that our messages of peace and justice were important, as well as the principle of honoring the humanity of and “that of God” in the prisoners.


(3) Mark agreed to organize the nightly dance programs for the FFD at the FGC Gathering in 2002.  Sophie, a member of the Gathering planning committee, would advocate for a good dance space.


            Committee Reports:

(1) Properties.  Sandra reported that there were no major costume or properties developments this past year, aside from the purchase of the new sound system.  She asked that members disseminate the following information:

We could use some spare sturdy garment bags for transporting costumes, perhaps obtainable from thrift sales and the like.  Please, no dyed leather, which is what ruined some of our former costumes.

The FFD has a wonderful travelling display prepared some time ago, housed with the other properties at the Helpsmeet home.  The Helpsmeets would like to pass it on to someone else who would house it and care for it, updating pictures and other elements.  Also, members are encouraged to look for opportunities to put up our display at Monthly Meetings, Yearly Meetings, or other gatherings of potentially interested folks.

(2) Web Site & Newsletter.  Mark stated that he would attempt to update the web site.  We accepted the offer of Nancy E. James of Pittsburgh Meeting to put together the next FFD newsletter and agreed that all contributions should reach her by October 1, so that she could mail the newsletter by mid-October.  Friends present accepted various tasks to that end.


FWCC Affiliation: Rosemary Coffey shared news of a letter from FWCC inviting appropriate groups to seek affiliation status with that organization.  She noted that the connections that facilitated our tour of Kenya in 1996 arose out of Rosemary’s networking with FWCC.  In general, FWCC affiliation would serve to “legitimize” us in the eyes of those who knew little or nothing about FFD.  Affiliation would require that we submit an initial application and, if accepted, file an annual report, copies of our newsletters, and updatings of our officers.  If we wished, we could send a liaison person to the FWCC annual meetings.  Friends approved submitting an application for FWCC affiliation, to be prepared by David Houghton and Rosemary Coffey.


Budget:  The following budget was approved for the 2001-2002 fiscal year.


Budget Category

2000 – 2001 Budget

2001-2002 Budget







Steering Committee



Scattergood Course/Tour






International Exchange



International Scholarship



International Tour Seed Money



Tapes (Music)



Sound System



T-shirt/Scholarship Fund





Northern Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice Submission: The committee of three designated at last year’s FFD Annual Meeting to prepare text for the NYM Faith & Practice Committee about the FFD reported.  David had completed and distributed his section of the work, which we edited and corrected.  Sandra and Ellen were to complete their sections shortly, with the whole to be submitted to the Steering Committee for final approval.


Steering Committee and Officer Appointments: We approved the following Steering Committee appointments (See bottom of page six):


Next Annual FFD Meeting: Next year’s meeting would be held the first Saturday in August.  Sophie de la Mar would explore hosting us in the Chicago area, with the Eau Claire area our fallback location.


Meticulously submitted,

Mark Helpsmeet




News of Dancing Friends

by Mark Judkins Helpsmeet


      This is a collection of news of Friendly FolkDancers, some of which may already be outdated by the time it reaches you.  My apologies for anything I missed or misreported.


      Henrica Takens-Milne has spent a significant portion of the past couple years doing her part for peace and justice.  She spent four months working as a volunteer with the Peace Education Department of the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and this led her to work on fund-raising after her return to England, to help them carry on the vital work they are doing.  Her husband, Eric, has kept busy on the home front, including looking to get back into architecture.

      Kenneth Kirkpatrick continues to live the joys and sorrows of life.  His father, Larry, who lived with Kenneth for the past few years, died of prostate cancer this past year.  One of the positive parts of that experience was the support and help of the woman who is now his fiancée, May Nowakoski, with the wedding scheduled for May 18, 2002.

      Bonnie Parsons is still the passionate, prancing and prayerful person she was on the New Zealand tour, but she has changed jobs, working with Frontlines in the community around Toronto, Ontario.  Though I don’t know a lot of details, I do know that the change has been demanding and, she reports, rewarding.

      Judy and George Penaluna report a change of domicile.  They now live in Smithy Cottage, Main Street, Cononley, North Yorkshire, BD20 8LL.  It’s been a long time since we, as a group, paid them a visit—anyone think it’s time to visit England again?

      Ruth Hyde continues to inspire all of us with her unceasing dance energy.  In August 2001 her pursuit of Balkan dance took her to Bulgaria for a month, I think.

      Michael and Merilyn Payne report that their busy and full lives include serving as joint clerks of Aotearoa (New Zealand) Yearly Meeting, a lot of work with the Quaker Settlement, and another lot of time grandparenting.

      Rosemary Coffey and Zig Dermer are now back home in Pittsburgh after their two years in Hawaii.  That implies, I think, an increase in their traveling rather than a decrease.  They came to Wisconsin for the annual FFD meeting (Rosemary was clerk for the past year, and is for the next) in their brand new hybrid car, offering to pick Sophie up in Illinois on their way, only to find out that Sophie and Brayton had just bought their own hybrid.  Great minds think alike, n’est-ce pas? 

      Speaking of Sophie de la Mar and Brayton Gray, they finally tied the blessed knot this past summer.  Wonderful things are worth waiting for, and many of us were overjoyed to be part of the community blessing their union.

      Since I was speaking of blessed unions, perhaps I should mention that of Wendy (Fisher) Fitton.  Wendy was part of the 1992 Pennsylvania/New York tour, and we had lost touch, but she’s back.  She and James were married April 4, 2001, at Mount Street Meeting.  They have a daughter, Rebecca, now 2 ½ years old.

      We have news from Kezia Scales, who was part of the 1994 North Carolina tour though she was only 14 or 15 back then.  She says that she is trying to figure out “what to do with the rest of my life” and “working like a crazy woman.”  I think she reported working three or four simultaneous jobs (assistant for ESL classes, popcorn scooper at an independent theater, and others) after working at the literary magazine, The Sun.  She has plans, maybe already fact, to travel the world, starting with China.

      Elizabeth Cave is amazing for the way she is able to travel so widely, sharing her gift of dance with people everywhere and often in the U. S. A.  She has often combined her visit to the U. S. to lead a dancing workshop at the FGC Gathering with additional touring.  One of her jaunts took her to Arizona to dance with the Meeting where Elisabeth Monsma-Heron is continuing her advanced studies.  Elizabeth Cave finished, I understand, her tenure as editor of Quaker Monthly, which should free her to travel even more!

      Another wedded bliss to report: Anne (Fistler) Carlander was married in June of this year, complete with a barn dance in, I think, a new oak barn that she and her husband built.

      At last report Jane Blount was still working hard dancing, teaching, choreographing and performing in sunny southern California.  Perhaps that is moderated, for I understand she is expecting, and welcomes all prayers and Light to support her through this pregnancy.

      David Houghton, though still a meteorology expert, is now a retired meteorology expert, having finished many years of teaching at UW-Madison.  Barbara Houghton has had to moderate her bounding energy due to back problems and could surely use the healing light we can send her.

      Sharon and John Bell are still happy and exhausted parents of two very high-energy children.  I think that parenting, and not the Peace Corps, is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

      Although it’s been a while since she has joined us on tour, Grace Valentine is continuing to share the joy of dance by currently teaching classes at the Liz Lerman Dance Studio for all ages.

      Sandra and Mark Helpsmeet didn’t go on tour this past spring and instead took the time to tour a number of intentional communities in Ohio and Tennessee, visiting others in Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina this past summer.  They continue in their search for right living, clear that there is some change ahead, but not clear exactly what it is.  They have, however, discovered the joys of wild foods, and harvested wild rice for the first time this fall.  ¯




FFD Prison Ministry

by Sophie de la Mar


      “Knowledge of the experience [of early Friends] has opened many later Friends to that of God in convicted persons.”

Philadelphia Faith and Practice, 1997, page 76


      The Friendly FolkDancers unite with the belief that there is that of God in convicted persons and seek an opening to take our dance ministry into the prison system in order to celebrate our interconnectedness in the Spirit.  Because prison rules in many prisons deny prisoners the opportunity to move out of their chairs or to make physical contact with their visitors, we will need to find new ways to make this connection.

      Way has not yet opened into any prison.  Through active involvement with other forms of prison ministry such as the Alternatives to Violence Project, the Madison Monthly Meeting singing programs in prisons, and the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty visitation team, we hope to find an opening to dance cheerfully into prisons seeking that of God in everyone present.  ¯



Friendly FolkDancers Steering Committee and Officers


Rosemary Coffey, Clerk/Steering Committee;

Sophie de la Mar, Assistant Clerk/Steering Committee;

Grace Valentine, Recording Clerk/Steering Committee;

Bonnie Beverstock, Treasurer/Steering Committee;

Barbara Houghton, Steering Committee;

Mark Judkins Helpsmeet, Steering Committee;

Nancy E. James, Newsletter Editor;