Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish


Heritage Dance Festival,

Plymouth Meeting

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Heritage Dance Festival

September 26-28, 1997, Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School,

Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, USA

by Ryan Thomson

The annual Heritage Dance Festival takes place in a suburb outside of Philadelphia. This

year was the 14th, and was filled with over 100 participatory dance workshops and

demonstrations. It included ethnic food venders, booths of dance and traditional books

and recordings, and included opportunities for "sit-in" musicians in the SPUDS band

(Summit Pickup Dance Society) which is a large contra dance orchestra which welcomes

newcomers and anyone interested in playing.

After I became acquainted with the layout, I was invited to sit in on fiddle with several

other bands also, including an International dance, English country dance, and Klezmer and

Irish sessions. The weekend was primarily organized for dancers rather than visiting

musicians however, and so I took the opportunity to attend several excellent instructional

workshops in Irish Step dancing, Irish set dancing, appalachian clogging, Lindy Hop, and

West Coast swing.

Dancing ran Friday night from 8 pm to around 11 pm in two separate dance areas. On both

Saturday and Sunday there were events happening simultaneously in 7 different locations,

so it was impossible to take in everything. Besides the dance events there were a few

other activities including puppet making for kids, a juggling workshop, instrument making,

and music workshops in fiddling, bodhran, singing, hurdy gurdy, and accordion.

Dance styles represented at the festival included: contra, cajun, swing, zydeco, Japanese,

Scandinavian, Greek, squares, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Morris, minuets, Irish, Romainian,

Bulgarian, country western, Israeli, family dances, and more.

I ended up making a number of new friends, learned some great dance steps, and enjoyed

playing my fiddle for dancers. In all, a great weekend. The Heritage Dance Association is a

membership organization. The members elect the officers and decide the association's

activities. For membership information visit the web site for more information on various

activities: Heritage Dance Association

Written by Ryan Thomson