Salt Spring Island Folk Dance Festival

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About the Festival

The Salt Spring Island Folk Dance Festival is a joyous, annual event occuring on the weekend closest to May Day and also to the UNESCO International World Day of Dance. Salt Spring Island is located near the cities of Vancouver and Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada.

Rosemarie Keough first hosted this celebration in 2004, assisted by her husband and children. Ever since, under Rosemarie's direction and with a lot of volunteer help from dancers near and far, the festival has brought together people who enjoy ethnic dance, music, costume and food.

Participants are primarily from Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, mainland British Columbia and Washington State. Each year, a number of dance enthusiasts fly great distances to enjoy the festival's warm fellowship and Salt Spring Island's rural charm, arriving from Québec, Ontario, Alberta, Hawaii, Texas, Colorado, California, New Jersey, and even from New Zealand and Dubai!

Rosemarie and Pat Keough

This wonderful gathering is held on Salt Spring Island, a scenically beautiful island that rises from the sea to summits that exceed 2000 feet.

The festival itself takes place in Fulford Community Hall, a short distance from the hamlet of Fulford Harbour where the ferry berths. It's a grand old hall where all events of the weekend take place - dancing, dining, and parties. The hall is large and has a wooden dance floor, a full commercial kitchen, and many other fine attributes including being surrounded by quiet pasture and evergreen forest.

Ninety-five dancers, plus excellent teachers and musicians, and volunteers from the island community join together. Not only do we learn new dances and catch up with one another's news, being that dancers come from over 20 different dance clubs, but best of all, there is an energy, a happiness that is infectious. People radiate joy for weeks following this event. We hope that you too will join us one year!

Rosemarie invites the teachers and musicians with careful thought to feature two very different dance traditions -- one line or circle dances, the other couple or set dances. She likes to emphasize international dance, defining international in the true sense, and this preference is also reflected in the choice of dance tunes played by the musicians during the evening parties. For one weekend of the year, those who enjoy those who enjoy Armenian and Bulgarian dances can also try Scandinavian and Portuguese and vice versa. Rosemarie believes in travelling the world through this cultural expression, and she always is amazed at the great variety of form that dance can take. Humans are amazing -- just two legs/feet and two hands/arms -- and yet so many dance styles have developed worldwide! This diversity must be celebrated!

Starting in 2010, the stellar roster of dance professionals who have come to teach at the festival was extended to bring teachers from Europe specifically for this festival.

Teachers emeritus include: Roo Lester, Mihai David, Alexandru David, John Campbell, Yves Moreau, France Bourque-Moreau, Lee Otterholt, Hilde Otterholt, Andrea Taylor-Blenis, Tom Bozigian with Sheree King, Sonia Dion and Cristian Florescu, Iliana Bozhanova, Jerry and Jill Duke.

Each festival we have such a good time together, and all through the year we anticipate getting together again next May Day. Happy Dancing everyone!

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