Scandinavian Folk Dancing in Greenbelt
Every third Saturday evening from September to May, Scandia DC, a Scandinavian folk dance group serving the Greater Washington region, meets in the Greenbelt Community Center’s dance studio for a dance party. Norwegian and Swedish couple turning dances are emphasized, and they are usually accompanied by live music. On December 15, I attended the group’s holiday dance program.
The monthly dance program takes place in the dance studio from 7 to 10 p.m. Usually lessons are offered during the first hour, but because this is a special holiday party, there is no teaching tonight.
Ross Schipper (right) founded Scandia D.C. with Linda Brooks in 1985. He has been dancing and teaching Norwegian and Swedish folk dances for 30 years.
The live music ensemble is led by Loretta Kelley (in red). Behind them are Norwegian and Swedish national flags.
The dancers pose for their annual group photo for Scandia DC’s website.
December 13 is Saint Lucia’s Day, an important holiday in Norway and Sweden, and Lucia processions are usually held. Here the lights are turned off and a young woman portraying Lucia walks to the center of the dance studio. As is the tradition, she wears a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head.
Also as is the tradition, she sings the Neapolitan song Santa Lucia in Swedish.
Blowing off the candles after the performance
Led by Ross Schipper, the group sings happy birthday to Linda Brooks, co-founder and co-director of Scandia DC. Brooks has been dancing Scandinavian dances since her high school years in California.
Happy Birthday Linda
Keep on Dancing
Ross Schipper cuts the cake.
Linda Brooks passes around open face sandwiches popular in Scandinavian countries.
After a 15-minute break, the fiddler starts to play again and the dancers return to the dance floor. This is a 20-minute Norwegian segment: “A selection of Norwegian dances which may include Jolstraspringar, Telespringar, Telegangar, Valdres Springar, Hallingspringar, Reinlender, Vossarull, Norwegian Mazurka, Vals, Finnskogspols, Busserull and Rorospols.” The springar is a Norwegian couple’s dance.
Loretta Kelley plays a Hardanger fiddle, the national fiddle of Norway. There are four strings that are played like a violin and several understrings that resonate with the four.
The next 20-minute segment is led by Goran Olsson and he plays Swedish tunes. The dances include Vals, Jamtpolska, Hambo, Bingsjopolska, Schottis, and Gammalpolska.
Loretta Kelley plays during the final segment of Norwegian dances.
According to Linda Brooks, “The Scandia DC dance group was founded in 1985 and had its first 3rd Saturday dance in May of that year. Over the years, it has met at the Takoma Park Junior High School (the old one before it was torn down and replaced by the middle school), the Indian Springs Terrace Recreation Center, the Takoma-Langley Community Center, and now at the Greenbelt Community Center. We have been dancing at the Greenbelt Community Center every 3rd Saturday of the month (September through May – we break during the summer) since April 1996. So we have been dancing in the Community Center’s dance studio for over 16 years and a half years.”
The cost to attend Scandia DC’s monthly dance program in Greenbelt is $7 per person. The next third-Saturday dance will take place on January 19, 2013 from 7 to 10 p.m. The dance that will be taught is Rorospols and the featured fiddler is Goran Olsson.