Traditional Dance Caller/Teacher

[ 1550 Larimer #131 | Denver, Colorado 80202 | USA | 303-722-5391 ]

Chris Kermiet has been calling and teaching traditional American squares and contras since the 1970s. He comes from an extensive music and dance background. His mother was Pauline Ritchie of the singing Ritchie family from Viper, Kentucky, while his father was Paul Kermiet, one of Colorado's premier old time square dance callers.

Chris grew up with square, contra and folk dance. His father ran a summer dance camp, the Lighted Lantern, for 30 years (1946 - 1976) during the time that Chris was growing up. The Lighted Lantern camp was a mecca for square and folk dancers who came from all over the United States and Canada to spend a week dancing with some of the finest callers and teachers in the country. Chris learned from all of them, and became intrigued with learning more about the other Celtic dance traditions that influenced American squares and contras. He learned Scottish dance from Bruce McClure and C. Stewart Smith, Welsh from Vyts Beliajus, and English from May Gadd and Genevieve Shimer.

During the last five years, as well as being in demand as a caller and teacher of traditional dance, he has created choreographies for a number of performing groups and theatre companies.

He is currently available to lead contra and squares, as well as English and Scottish country and ceili dances.

Charles (Chip) Cyril Hendrickson III

beloved husband and best friend of Frances (Cibel) (Eitapence) Hendrickson, passed peacefully at Danbury Hospital, on the evening of February 25, 2005, among loving family, after a long courageous struggle with complications of a stroke.

Chip was born in Brooklyn, NY, September 26, 1932, son of Ruth (Copeland) and Charles Cyril Hendrickson II, of Oceanside, Long Island, NY.

Chip is survived, and will be sadly missed by sons Bob and Russell of Newtown, daughters Ruth and her husband Gary Hard of Ridgefield, Carol and her husband Jim Mayhew of Shelton and Susan and her husband Tim Vogelman, of Newtown. Also step-sons Adam Eitapence of Waterbury and Christopher Eitapence of Orange Park, Florida. Chip will also be missed by grandchildren, Timmy, Christopher, Alex, Allison, Reed, Benjamin, Matthew and step-grandchildren Danielle, Kerstin and Kyle, as well as many dear friends and his former wife, C. Elaine Hendrickson of Southbury. Chip is pre-deceased by his parents and a brother George.

Chip grew up on Long Island attending Oceanside schools and receiving an Associates Degree in Surveying from Brookline College. Chips career in Technical Illustrating brought him to many area companies as a Job Shopper. He worked at Branson Sonic Power, Schlumberger Doll and with others in southwestern Connecticut. Chip retired from corporate work in 1988.

As a pre-teen, experiencing a presentation by a Native American Family at Oceanside Library, Chip was inspired to make, what became a life-long commitment to educating the public about Indian ways. He formed a dance group in his teens and later, with his five children as the Te Wa Hey Dancers, continuing the education process. Chip created beautiful regalia perfecting his beadwork skills, leather craft and feather work. All ages learned the teachings of respect for all living things and that we are all related. After his stroke in January 1997, Chip was not able to dance but could still teach and display his items. He became an Advisor to Explorer Post 413 in Newtown The Red Tail Dancers led by his son Bob. The focus was on performing and educating others in Indian dance and culture. Chip also sat at the groups' drum called the Iron Hawk Singers.

Chip was involved in Boy Scouts with his sons, as an assistant leader, an advisor and was proud holder of awards from the Wood Badge program.

In 1951, on Long Island, Chip entered the world of Square Dancing, a vocation he would follow for the next 46 years. He was caller to many local clubs and traveled across the country. He made 27 recordings and wrote for a national square dance magazine. Chip made the transition to Traditional Squares and in 1975 discovered the dances and music of the 18th century. He enjoyed teaching all ages as obvious to all those who attended the Parent/Child dances at CT schools and for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Chip was skilled at teaching Square dances, Contras and English Country Dancing. He staffed at many dance camps from Kentucky to Canada. Chip was Producer of the annual Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors summer Country Dance Program from the mid 1970's through 1996.

During the American Bi-centennial, Chip and friend Kate Van Winkle Keller researched dances and music from the 18th century as primary sources became available in abundance. Chip, operating as Cyril Hendrickson, Dancing Master, taught the dances and developed a performing group whose members dressed in Colonial garb. As research continued it became clear that the next step was to publish the wealth of newly discovered dances and music. In 1988, Chip and his wife Fran created The Hendrickson Group to provide a vehicle to publish the books and record the music for the revival of this historic form of social dancing.

As Cyril Hendrickson, he was Dancing Master for historic re-enactment groups including DeLancey's Brigade based in Trumbull, CT, The Living History Foundation based in Virginia and he spent time as Dancing Master employed by Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1990..

Chip was known for his loving enthusiasm and joy of life. His attitude was contagious. With the wealth of knowledge accrued over years of research, he enjoyed educating others through public performances and lectures. He loved nature, walking in the woods, camping, designing, creating and building projects and most of all his family. He was exceedingly proud of his children and grandchildren and always introduced his wife, Fran, as "my best friend and wife."

Arrangements are being handled by Green Funeral Home, 57 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.

Contributions may be made to the Chip and Fran Hendrickson Benefit Fund at Newtown Savings Bank, 250 South Main Street, Newtown, CT, 06470, to help defray extensive medical costs.

Article on this site: Keeping Those Traditional Roots