Conny and Marianne Taylor
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Cornell Sawyer "Conny" Taylor was born in 1921. He met Marianne Taylor in 1952, and they founded a family and a legacy. He began teaching international folk dance and Scottish country dance in the Boston area in 1953. He received his bachelor's degree in Recreation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1954. At the Cambridge, Massachusetts, YWCA in 1955 and 1956, he started the international folk dance classes and parties that later became the Thursday, Friday, and monthly Saturday series still run by the Folk Arts Center (FAC) of New England.
Both Conny and Marianne upheld the standards of Michael and Mary Ann Herman, such as the Taylors' famous and often-reprinted "Last Bastion of the Skirt" where women who attended the Taylors' Cambridge YWCA folk dance classes were requested politely to wear a skirt, borrow one from the Taylors, or leave.
Conny taught folk dance workshops and school programs all over New England, in Virginia, Québec, Oquaga Camp in New York, and Texas Folk Dance Camp. He was a frequent leader at Ralph Page's East Hill Farm and Year End Camps and served on the New England Folk Festival Association planning committees in the 1950s.
In 1975, Conny co-founded the Folk Arts Center of New England with Marianne and served as its President and Technical Director. He ran the the Copley Square outdoor summer folk dances and the Oktoberfest Folk Dance Weekend in Stowe, Vermont, for many years and helped initiate FAC's Pinewoods Camp international folk dance sessions. Conny was a guest at FAC's Pinewoods and Oktoberfest camps and at the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival.
The Taylors divorced, and Conny retired in the 1980s.
Conny died on November 3, 2006, at age 85 after a long battle with lung cancer. Donations may be made in his memory to the Folk Arts Center of New England, Inc., where a fund will provide scholarships to FAC's annual Oktoberfest Folk Dance and Music Weekend in Fairlee, Vermont. He leaves his sister Angela; daughters Micki, Andy (a folk dance teacher in her own right), and Tina; son Mark; long-time partner Helene, and ex-wife Marianne.
Marianne Patterson Taylor was a master folk dance teacher, teaching folk dance as a profession from 1955 to 2008. Her warmth and enthusiasm had inspired several generations of dancers. With "clarity and charity," she taught hundreds of school programs and residencies, Scottish and English country dance classes, and international folk dance workshops. She was featured at Stockton Folk Dance Camp (when it was the University of the Pacific Camp), Mendocino Folklore Camp, Pinewoods Camp, and workships in Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Switzerland, and from British Columbia to Newfoundland in Canada.
Marianne was born in 1930. She graduated from Sargent College, Boston University, in 1951 with a B.S. in Physical Education and a minor in Dance. In 1957, she received her teacher's certification in Scottish Country Dance from the Royal Scottish Dance Society (RSCDS), and in 2005, she received a Scroll of Honour from the RSCDS.
With her husband Conny Taylor, she started running weekly international folk dance classes in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. She co-founded the Folk Arts Center of New England (FACONE) with Conny in 1975 and served as its Program Director through 2004. In 1995, she became a member of the Ralph Page Legacy Committee of the New England Folk Festival Association and a committee member for the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend. She also was an Artist in Residence for primary, middle, and high school programs through the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
Marianne said that major influences in her dance career were Ralph Page, Dick Crum, and Andor Czompo not just dances, but teaching and dancing techniques.
Marianne played piano for contra, Scottish, and other kinds of dance since the early 1950s and was a regular member of Tullochgorum. She played monthly with the Lamprey River Band at a contra dance in Dover, New Hampshire, and was sometimes a musician and sometimes the caller at the Deerfield, New Hampshire, Town Hall Contra Dances, which she had organized in 1991.
Her interests had included leading a small group tour in Portugal, helping to organize a second concert tour in Scotland with the Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire, and playing for a Scottish dance tour on a schooner in the Greek Islands.
In 2008, the National Folk Organization honored her with its Preserving Our Heritage Award. An avid traveler in her later years, she co-led a small group tour in Portugal, helped organize a second concert tour in Scotland with the Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire, and played piano for a Scottish dance tour on a schooner in the Greek Islands.
She appeared as backup on several Scottish / Celtic music compact discs available from the Little Shop of Horas. These include
- Celebrate Fifty Years of Dancing (Boston Hospitality, Carfuffle Ceilidh Band, Fiddlers Three, Highland Whisky, Local Hero, Pipes Awa', Sprig of Ivy, The Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampsire, Tullochgorum, The White Cockade, and additional ensembles)
- Dances frae the North, Vol. 1, 2, 3 (ay Ladies Ceilidh Band, Commonwealth Ceilidh Band)
- The Golden Keyboard (Celtic Marimba)
- Muckle Carfuffle (The Carfuffle Ceilidh Band)
- The 2005 Gala of the Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire
Marianne died on August 19, 2008, after months of battling cancer. She encouraged all to "take hands four from the top" and was always one to say "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
Dances that Conny and/or Marianne taught include 16-Step Tsamikos, 25th Reel, A Trip to Kilburn, Alunelul, Anna's Wedding Cake, Apley House, Auld Reekie Hornpipe, Bare Necessities, Barham Down, Békési Páros, Boston Hospitality, Bourée Droite du Pays Fort, Bourée Pastourelle, Braes of Breadalbane, Black Mountain Reel, Bučimiš, Burns Night, Campbell's Frolic, Corn Rigs, Corrido, Dayagim, D'Hammerschmiedgselln, Dick's Maggot, Dinky One-Step, Drapers Gardens, Dublin Bay, Earl of Northampton, Easter Thursday, Erick's Becket(t), Fair Donald, Fill the Fetters, Fireside Reel, Flights of Fancy, Flowers of Edinburg, Freeford Gardens, Friar in the Well, Gencsi Verbunk, Geud Man of Ballingigh, Geud Man of Cambridge, Hal Robinson's Rant, Hambo, Hamilton House, Handel with Care, Highland Schottosche, Hit and Miss, Hora la Patru, I Care Not for These Ladies, If All the World Were Paper, Invercauld's Reel, Jabadao, Jack's Health, Jacob Hall's Jig, Jamaica, Jarabe Pateño, Jota Mallorquina, Jovano Jovanke, Juice of Barley, Kamenopolsko, Kamiūica, Karapyet, Kolo Zita, Kreuz Konig, Kritikos, Latvian Lass, Light and Airy, Loch Leven Castle, Mad Robin, Maggie Lauder, Maine Medley, Maiden Lane, Mainzer Polka, Merry Oddfellows, Mr. Beveridge's Maggot, Não Vás ai Mar Tonho, Narodno Horo, Neda Grivne, Neopolitan Tarantella, Nevestinsko Oro, Monmouth Ramble, Nonesuch, Northern Harmony, Old Deninka, Orleans Baffled, Pant Corlan yr Wyn, Pas d'Espan, Pinewoods Reel, Potrkan Ples, Po Zelenij Trati, Reel of the Blackcocks, Robin Ddiog, Rokoko Kolo, Rosinha de Afife, Royal Empress Tango, Rustemul, Sardana, Scotch Cap, Sedi Donka<, Seige of Carric, Sellinger's Round, Shrewsbury Lasses, Sprig of Ivy, Stoner House, Thady You Gander, The Black Nag, The Dundee Whaler, The Female Sailor, The Fine Lady of Homewood, The Friar in the Well, The Gae Gordons, The Homecoming, The Improper Apothecary, The Maid Peeped Out at the Window, The Physical Snob, The Queen's Jig, The Waters of Holland, This Is No' My Ain Hoose, Tonho, Trekantet Sløjfe, Trip to Paris, Vira da Nazaré, Vira do Sitio, Vo Sadu ly Vyogorode, Waltz, Waters of Holland, Well Hall, Winter Dreams, Zaječarka, and Zillertaler Ländler.