Wrap-Up Report, NOMAD 1998

Here’s John Mazza’s wrap-up report for the 1998 NOMAD Festival, which was held November 6-8, 1998, at the Newtown High School, Newtown, CT.

NOMAD ’98 was a roaring success! Festival staff, volunteers and attendees quickly became comfortable in the newly renovated and expanded Newtown High School. In our “new” home we have two ground-level gymnasiums for dancing, a lecture hall and chorus room, each ideally configured for concerts, and a HUGE cafeteria, ideal for socializing and having our traditional Sunday morning sing. Additionally, we have the auditorium for dances and performances, and several classrooms for workshops and family activities.

Our Friday night grand festival opening dance party, featuring Bill Olson’s contra dance calling with music by Reckless Abandon, was well attended and lots of fun. It provided a good preview of the weekend of dance and music that was to follow.

On Saturday and Sunday NOMAD went full blast. Our volunteer dance leaders, musicians and performers provided a full schedule of contra and square dances, English and Scottish country dances and a whole range of International dances in the two gyms and auditorium stage. In the music rooms we heard songs and tunes from such far-flung places as Australia and the Georgian Republic, as well as the more familiar music from the British Isles and North America. Family attendees were treated to songs, stories, dances and magic for children. As usual, Pete Lane’s balloon sculptures were to be seen everywhere.

Each year NOMAD adds a few volunteer performers/teachers with new contributions. 1998 was no exception. NEFESH, an Israeli/Jewish Klezmer band provided the music for a lively Sunday afternoon dance party. Paolina Kavanagh led “Balliamo,” which filled Gym 3 with the tarantella and other vigorous Italian dances. In the music area, Arthur Cole provided one of the festival’s more unusual features — a classrom full of novice and experienced players filling the room and the surrounding hallway with the distinctive sound of Australian didgeridoos. Ariane Lydon came to NOMAD from Wisconsin to introduce us to her unique interpretations of traditional and original folk songs. In the family area, Andrea Wright entertained the children and their parents with “Books Alive!” a theatrical presentation of stories using a variety of props and puppets.

Newtown High School’s culinary arts program once again provided an ample supply of interesting food at reasonable prices. They were supplemented this year by the staff of Al’s Chat House, who provided coffee and snacks during the late night hours. The Sunday morning breakfast, offered by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of New Haven, was a big hit, as usual.

NOMAD’s folk bazaar, located in the cafeteria and main hallway, gave us all an opportunity to do some early holiday shopping. CD’s, books, musical instruments, jewelry, clothing, paper crafts, wooden toys and other useful items were among the offerings at over a dozen booths.

Now we’re planning and looking forward to NOMAD ’99. We’ll publish the dates and other information as soon as it becomes available.