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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Ron Houston

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Ron Houston 2007


Dr. Ronald "Ron" Houston, researcher, teacher and author, archived and published information about the history and practice of international dance.

Ron, who was born in Austin, Texas, began folk dancing in 1955 with folk dance leader George A. Lowrey. Other early dance and recreation influences included square dance caller Roy McCutchan, Jane Farwell, and Michael and Mary Ann Herman's Maine Folk Dance Camp.

Ron began teaching in 1969 and, in 1971, helped found and conduct for some twenty years the Festival Folklórico Internacional in Oaxtepec, Morelos, Mexico. By 1973, he was directing weekend seminars and the Friday-night folk dance sessions on the campus of the University of Texas, sessions that lasted a quarter-century. Ron remembers well a 1978 workshop with the notable professional folk dance teacher and amateur slight-of-hand magician, Dick Oakes!

Filling a need in 1976, he compiled the Folk Dance Catalogue, a classified listing of over 10,000 names for over 5,000 dances. His source collection has now grown to hundreds of thousands of descriptions, tens of thousands of phonograph recordings, and thousands of books and magazines.

Ron studied dance formally in Poland, earned the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) teaching certificate, and studied informally in many other European countries and in Mexico. He went on to teach workshops, not only around his home state of Texas, but also the United States and abroad.

In 1987, pioneer folk dancers asked him to create an archive, and he founded the Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH), publishing the widely respected annual series "Folk Dance Problem Solver" (each issue presenting the history and descriptions of approximately forty folk dances), the quarterly "Report to Members" (called by many the spiritual heir to Vyts Beliajus' "Viltis" magazine), and the "Folk Dance Phone Book and Group Directory" (an alphabetical, classified, and geographical directory of folk dancers, groups, teachers, musicians, vendors, etc.). The Society Archive grew to hundreds of thousands of descriptions, tens of thousands of phonograph recordings, and thousands of books and magazines.

Tatiana Nikolova-Houston Ivan Nenov mayor of Gabrovo Bulgaria and Ron Houston 1993 In 1993, Ron's Society of Folk Dance Historians sponsored a Bulgarian folk dance seminar in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. In the photograph, he concludes arrangements with Ivan Nenov, mayor of Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Both Ron and his wife Tatiana Nikolova-Houston have the Ph.D. in Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin (along with nine other degrees!). They homeschooled their daughter, Tani.

In 2003, he received "Recognition" from Nelda Drury's San Antonio Folk Dance Festival, and in 2007, the National Folk Organization awarded him their "Preserving Our Legacy" award.

Beyond his many publications and the Folk Dance Archives, Ron gave to folk dancers the dance Marinera Monsefú, which he learned from Pam Sharpe (who learned it in Peru).

Ron studied, taught, and enjoyed many folk dance genre, including pre-electrification Israeli dance, remnants of pre-Renaissance European dance, the Romanian dances of Larisa Lucaci, the Ukrainian dances of Vasiľ Avramenko, Polish dance, Scottish dance, the Mexican dances of Alura Flores de Angeles, the early dances of Gretel and Paul Dunsing, the Ballroom Dances of Imperial Russia, and Bulgarian dance structure.

The Society ceased annual publications pending the search for a new Executive Director on December 31, 2022.



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