The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Tom Kruskal, teacher of English dance.
Tom Kruskal, from Sudbury, Massachusetts, fell in love with the Anglo concertina at the age of 13 while attending the Berea Christmas Dance School in 1962. Tom plays Anglo concertina and banjo for Orion Longsword and the Pinewoods Morris Men and is leader and founder of youth teams Velocirapper, Candyrapper, Beside the Point, Great Meadows Morris, and Sword and Hop Brook Morris. A frequent musician at Pinewoods since 1966, Tom's playing for display dance is strong, driving, rhythmic and attentive to the needs of the dancers and the dance.
Tom organized and ran the first Pinewood’s Morris Tour when he was a sophomore at Harvard in 1965. He had just come back from England where he met and toured with the Chingford Lads and was totally enthralled with "the Morris."
Tom taught at the California University of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp (now Stockton Folk Dance Camp) in 1972 and 1973.
In 1975, having moved back to Cambridge, Tom became a Director on the original Board of Pinewoods Camp and acted as chair of the Management Committee for six years. After leaving his position on the PCI Board, he joined the CDSS Board as Treasurer, for a term of nine years. He remained on their finance committee for several years after that.
After college, he moved to California. He knew Chuck Ward from Berea. Chuck and Nora Hughes wanted to start an English dance, so the three of them collaborated in starting the Bay Area Country Dance Society.
In 1979, Tom and and his wife, Deborah, bought a very large house in Nantucket. Nantucket was quickly seen, by Tom, as a perfect venue for a morris tour.
In 1988, Tom decided to start teaching morris at the Unitarian church, First Parish of Sudbury. It was a step to his real mission, which was to bring a Revels-type production by the children to a Sunday service in December.
Tom and Deborah attended Family Week at Pinewoods annually from the time their daughter Lily was four.
In 1990, Tom Kruskal and Steve Roderick of Pinewoods Morris Men started Hop Brook Morris, a 5th to 8th-grade Morris and sword team at the First Parish UU in Sudbury. Hop Brook dancers practice and perform longsword and mumming in the fall, and Ilmington Morris and Bampton Morris in the winter and spring.
In 1994, when one of the Hop Brook kids, David Fleischmann-Rose, insisted that Tom continue teaching after the eighth grade level, Tom decided to start teaching rapper. Tom and Deborah's son, Peter, joined this group the following year when he started high school.
In 1995, Tom once again became a director on the Pinewoods Camp Inc. Board and served as Treasurer for nine years. He still is on its Finance Committee.
In 1996, Tom Kruskal attracted a talented quintet of high-schoolers with Morris music and dance experience from Hop Brook and Banbury Cross, who were enthralled with rapper. This side called itself Velocirapper, eventually becoming a sensation at NEFFA and the NY Sword Ale. Their example ignited interest among Hop Brook and Banbury graduates and other local dance-community teens, in rapper specifically and the idea of a high-school-aged Morris-and-sword side generally.
In May of 1997, Peggy Marcus, Banbury Cross squire and mother of Morris and sword dancers Andrew and Aaron Marcus, along with Tom Kruskal, invited local children's Morris and sword sides to an all-day event called the Ginger Ale. Held every year since then, between May Day and Lilac Sunday, the Ale is a miniature Marlboro Ale for Morris youth.
Way back when, he co-founded the San Francisco Country Dance Society, the predecessor of the Bay Area Country Dance Society (BACDS).
In 2007, Tom decided to create a day of multiple sword workshops. He called it the Sword Workshop Extraordinaire.
Tom played with his brother, Jody, for The Incredible Concertina Concert in Honor of Sir Charles Wheatstone Bicentennial Celebration. They demonstrated Morris, sword, and ritual dance, and also gave a sample of English Country Dance.
In 2010, Tom received the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Country Dance and Song Society.
Dances Tom has taught include Childgrove, Dublin Bay (We'll Wed and We'll Bed), Mr. Beveridge's Maggot, Nonesuch, Pins and Needles, Prince William, Ring o' Bells, The Fandango, Trip to Paris, and Trip to Tunbridge.
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