The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Tom Roby, caller and teacher of Balkan, Hungarian, English Country, and contra dance.
Tom began folkdancing as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College and has been passionately pursuing it ever since. As a teacher, Tom is especially well versed in Balkan line dances, improvisational Hungarian dances, and English Country and Contra Dances, which he calls regularly. He also has a keen interest in other couple dances, both choreographed and led/followed, for example, Waltz, Zwiefacher, Bourrées, Lindy, Argentine Tango, and Irish Sets. Now based in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Tom calls dances around New England and teaches at festivals and dance weekends farther afield. He's a regular teacher (with Diane Gonzales) at the montly Mostly Waltz for Boston.
Tom's goal as a teacher and caller is to get dancers moving to music as quickly as possible, while still helping them improve their style and connection to the music and each other. His teaching style is clear, lively, and fun. He continues to hone this craft, always looking for ways to maximize teaching efficiency. Beginners and advanced dancers alike enjoy Tom's infectious enthusiasm and relaxed attitude. His sense of humor and quick wit speak for themselves.
Tom was the English caller for the LCFD Spring Dance Camp in 2016 and was the featured caller at the 2009 Cascadia English Country Dance weekend in Seattle. He was the Dancing Master for the 2004 BACDS Playford Ball and the English Caller for the 2004 and 2010 BACDS Spring Dance Weekend in Monte Toyon. He has called English dances with Bare Necessities at Dartington Hall (Devonshire) and the Assembly Hall in Bath, England, and for local groups across northern California and New England. Many semesters he taugh a course through UConn's First Year Programs called Jane Austen Dances, where he introduces UConn students to the pleasures of English and American set dancing. He also composes dances (see below) as time permits.
Tom started calling contra dances in Portland, Oregon (under Mary Devlin), then became a regular caller in Madison, Wisconsin, and the San Francisco Bay area. He has called dances from Sacramento to Monterey and all around New England.
He has taught Balkan at the Arcata Folkdance Festival, frequently at the New England Folk Festival ("NEFFA"), Ashkenaz (Berkeley), and in various local groups around the country. He has partnered with Marjorie Nugent, Clare Stanley and Diane Gozales for teaching Hungarian< and Balkan dances. Tom was an active leader and teacher in the MIT Folk Dance Club from 1986–1991, where he learned many dances that are rarely done anymore. During a two-year postdoc in Japan, Tom danced regularly with the Tokyo Scottish Blue Bell Club and the Balkan group "Xoros." He also attended workshops with Tom Bozigian, Joe Graziosi, Atanas Kolaravski, Yves Moreau, and others, where they taught at about thrice the pace of a typical North American workshop. He then taught folkdancing for physical educatijon credit at Reed College (1993-95), and to local groups in Madison, Wisconsin (1995-97).
After moving to the Bay Area, Tom taught Balkan dancing at Ashkenaz, the Albany YMCA, the Stanford International Folkdancers, and the Berkeley Folk Dancers weekend at Monte Toyon (assisting Neal Sandler). He has also taught improvisational Hungarian dancing at Ashkenaz. Since returning to New England, Tom has taught workshops for the West Hartford IFD group Always on Sunday, taught dances for the band XOPO, and continues to program and teach at various dances, including the revival of the advanced MIT Tuesday Night Balkan dance group.
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