Dancers in 2 Circles

Richmond VA's Traditional and Folk Dance Floor

Traditional dance has been a part of human-kind's spirit since our earliest days on the plains of Africa. With hand to hand, and foot to floor, we all get swept together from musician to dancer to audience. Keep on and we'll share more about the kinds of dance we do.

Contra International  Folk Swing Traditional Celtic Israeli Folk Other

Contra Dancing

Most frequently asked question: does this have anything to do with the Nicaragua contras?

Most Frequent Answer: Um, well, no.

If you've ever heard of or seen the Virginia Reel, well, that's a Contra Dance. If you haven't got that bit of experience to pull from, looking at our Richmond's Contra Dance Page may help.

Contra dancing is usually done with a caller and live music. Couples stand in long lines across from their partner, thus the word 'contra'. The caller walks everyone through each dance before the music begins. Two couples dance through several figures together, and at the end of the set each couple ends up dancing with a new couple up or down the line. This is why contra dancing is such a great way to meet new people. (We met at a contra dance!)

The band usually plays two sets with a 15 minute break in between. Before the break and at the end of the evening there's a waltz. Sometimes there's other couple dances like the Hambo or the Schottische. During the break, we often put on swing music for those who can't stand to take a break.

The atmosphere is smoke and alcohol free. Partners aren't required since it's a non-threatening environment to ask and be asked to dance. Beginners are welcome and workshops are usually held the hour before each dance.

More advanced dancers don't compete as in many other types of dance (like ballroom and swing), instead they go to dance weekends and retreats where they wear the finish off of nice dance floors.

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International Folk Dancing

Most frequently asked question: Huh?

Most Frequent Answer: It's so cool! Every dance has the same name as the song.

In eastern Europe, every village has it's traditions, and regions of the old country built music and dance around their traditions. We in the States have reaped the benefits of being an immigrant nation by learning the best of these rich heritages. We do slow line dances from Greece, elegant couple dances from Austria, energetic dances from Israel, and intricate dances from Romania. Check out the schedule and photos on our International Folk Dance page.

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Swing Dancing

Most in-frequently asked question: Does that have to do with free-love?

Best Answer: Sure -- it doesn't cost anything to fall in love.

Seen all that jitterbug in the movies or "Happy Days?" Ever heard "Rock Around the Clock" or "Jailhouse Rock?" Well those are the kinds of moves and tunes we do together on the first and third Saturday of every month at The Dance Space, 6004 W. Broad Street. Workshop at 7:15, Dance at 8:30. Cost at the door is $5.00.

Got questions? Click here to contact Catherine Farmer or call her at (804) 359-0497.

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Celtic Traditional Dancing

Most frequently asked question: Who are the Celts anyway?

Most Frequent Answer: We don't have space to answer that question -- it keeps many authors employed.

"Riverdance" has recently caused a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. If you saw it, then you know what Irish Step Dancing looks like. Scottish Dancing is the stuff of Scottish Nobles and peasants alike. Both Irish and Scottish dancing requires intense attention to detail and is taught through age-old traditions. In Richmond, one can find both Scottish and Irish dance lessons at The West End Academy of Dance, located at 10620-C Patterson Avenue, (804)740-0842. Scottish dance lessons are offered in three categories: Little kids (ages 5-7), Medium kids (ages 8-12) and Big kids (adults). The cost is $25 per month and classes are on Saturday mornings. To find out more info, contact: Bridget Glasheen Boswell (804)740-4102.

For more of a social Scottish dance outlet, you can go to the Scottish Country Dancers of Richmond group. They meet Wednesdays from September to May from 6:45-9:15 in the Westhampton School Gym located at the corner of Libbie and Patterson Avenue. For more information, contact Linda Salter at (804)266-7355.

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Israeli Folk Dancing

Most frequently asked question: don't you have to be Jewish?

Most Frequent Answer: Vhadda, crazy? Move ovah -- vea tryn' t'dance heah!

Israeli Dancers   

Israeli dancing is a vibrant tradition which is adding new dances to the repertoire every day. Israeli dancing is usually done in a circle, sometimes with hands held, sometimes not. There are slower prayerful dances where one's body echos the humility and solemnity of ancient cultures, and lightning fast dances which are the closest thing one can get to flying without using special equipment.

Page Luxmoore teaches Israeli Dancing at the Jewish Community Center. Beginners classes are on Mondays from 7:30-10:00pm. Intermediate and Advanced classes are on Thursdays from 7:30-10:00pm. These programs are run on a semester basis, so be sure to call Page at (804) 264-5302, or the JCC at (804) 288-6091 to find out the dates. The JCC is located at 5403 Monument Avenue, Richmond VA 23226.

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Morris Dancing

Morris Dancers

Morris Dancing is an English ritual dance that dates to medieval times. The origins are obscure. Many believe that it derives from pre-Christian times and is Druidic in nature. Many elements of Morris, especially the handkerchiefs, sticks and bells have mythic connotations. Since Shakespeare's day, the Morris has been danced to celebrate the change of seasons, as well as the planting and harvesting of crops. It is said that Morris Dance brings fertility, abundance and good luck to those who watch.

One can see Morris Dancing in Richmond, as well as in Charlottesville. To schedule or find out more about Richmond's More or Less Morris, please contact Patricia Stansbury or call her at (804) 272-0725. If you would like to join the group and perform, practices are on Wednesday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm at Westover Hill School.

Colonial Dance

For those who like stately dancing with roots in our colonial history, this would be a good group to contact. They dance on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at Overbrook Presbyterian church, 605 Dumbarton Road from 8:00-10:00pm. Contact Linda Macdonald, at (804)744-3264 for more information.

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