Jubilation Fellow Caroline Oakley

Caroline Oakley

Musician-Square Dance Caller
Corbett OR
Fellowship: 2013

“I have the best job in the world,” says Caroline, who has been teaching and calling old-time square dances for more than a decade. She also plays fiddle, guitar, and sings old country songs. “I feel so lucky to share one of the great joys of my life: the sense of connectedness and feeling of solace that results when I move with others through music.”

Three mornings a week she facilitates parent/child music classes with kids up to five years old. “It is pure joy for me,” she says. “One of my favorite aspects of the program is working with parents who don’t ‘feel musical.’ They sign up because they don’t want their children to feel the same way. One is never too old to begin to ‘feel musical.’”

With patience and an easy manner, Caroline emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and active learning with her students. She is engaging and clear, with a knack for improvising.

“Another of the great joys of my musical life comes from facilitating family square dances,” she says. These are different from other community square dances, “mainly because of the vast quantities of children present. The dances I call lean toward the ridiculous, and we all have a grand time.”

Caroline calls at many of the West Coast’s old-time and bluegrass music events, including Alaska’s Folk Festival, Seattle’s Folklife Festival, San Francisco’s Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, and Port Townsend’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes.  

“People fall in love, make new friends, and dance their rain-induced blues away,” she says. “Traditional dance needs to be kept alive in the same way a language does, and our twenty-first century, West Coast edition of the tunes and dances that have been handed down for generations keeps this heritage healthy. Everyone has a chance to connect to a completely participatory, non-commercial, and welcoming community event. Each individual feels part of something bigger, and this expansive sense of belonging carries over into the rest of the world, making it just a little bit better all around.”

Link: www.squaredancefever.com

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