Learn About Balfolk Dancing With Fiddlefern

Dancing is still and will always be the best way to enjoy live music.  Proof that this has been case for more than a century awaits your pleasure at St. George’s Church Hall in Owen Sound on November 4th.  It’s your chance to learn Balfolk Dancing.

Balfolk is a tradition from Western Europe (Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands) where everyone dances to a live folk band a mish-mash of dances that can include anything from mazurkas to  bourrées or snakey chain dances.  They are the type of dances where partners continually change as everyone forms patterns together on the dance floor.  A caller calls out the moves.

One of the characteristics of Balfolk is that the dancers can range from the very young to the very old.


Following the simple steps is easy. To find yourself in the swirl of dancers following the same patterns is a sensual experience, undeniably heightened by the live music.

It is part of the Balfolk tradition to begin by teaching the steps to the newcomers so that it’s easy to join the dance.

You don’t need a partner.  That’s how Fiddlefern’s evening will start at 7:30 on Saturday, November 4th.

The Balfolk dancing will be led by fiddler, pianist and accordianist Emilyn Stam.  Her unique style is largely influenced by her mentor, the late Oliver Schroer, but also by her 4 years touring with Eastern European party-punk-super-band Lemon Bucket Orkestra, playing for Balfolk social dancing events with the Dutch band , classical piano training, and accompanying Canadian fiddlers Anne Lederman and  James Stephens in “Eh?!”.  She’ll be accompanied for these dances by Adam Iredale-Gray and Tangi Ropars.

The evening, set to run to 11 pm, will be half Balfolk and half Contra dancing.  In the second half of the evening Emilyn and Frank Francalanza will lead Contra dances.

You’ll be tuckered by the end of Saturday night but if you’re a musician at heart you want to get up in time on Sunday for the Musician’s Workshop with the same musicians from the dance.  It’s running from 11 to 1 pm at the Harmony Centre in Owen Sound on Nov. 5th. Bring your own instrument and pick up some tips on non-Celtic music you can play for dancing.

SATURDAY, NOV. 4: $12 adult, $8 student/unwaged, $5 children, $25 family.

SUNDAY, NOV. 5:  $5 admission

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