What is Balfolk?

Balfolk dancing is popular social dancing from Western Europe, a recent revival of traditional, mostly French, folk dances.

Bourrées, jigues, gavotte, mazurkas, waltzes, scottishes: some partner dances, some group dances, some snakey chain dances.They are all fun and easy to learn, you don’t need any partners or prior experience. We’ll show you how!

We always dance to live music: fiddles, accordions, clarinets, guitars and more…

Every at Drom Taberna, 458 Queen St West (at Augusta Ave), 8pm-10:30pm

What is Balfolk?

Balfolk is a term used in the last 40 years to describe popular social folk dancing in
Western Europe. It includes old traditional dances from a variety of French and western
European regions, as well as modern tunes influenced by many styles composed for
people to dance to. Balfolk is not definable as ONE style, but rather an umbrella term for
many ways of dancing and playing for a huge repertoire of dances.

What is Balfolk Toronto?

Balfolk Toronto was started by Tangi Ropars and Emilyn Stam in the spring of 2013,
with our first big bal in March of 2014 and weekly dances on Mondays almost every
Monday since 2013. Since then many people have contributed to the development of
our community!

Balfolk Toronto Board Members
Alan Cerclier
Kathryn Durst
Lea Kirstein
Janina Kowalski
Reenie Perkovic
Tangi Ropars
Emilyn Stam

Artistic Director: Emilyn Stam
Bal Coordinator Team: Lea Kirstein, Reenie Perkovic, Janina Kowalski
Membership: Elin Marley
Monday Music and Dance Facilitator: Daev Clysdale
Music Library and Learning Resources: David Woodhead and Nathan Smith
Secretary: TBD
Social Media / Website: Reenie Perkovic & Kathryn Durst
Treasurer: TBD

Mission Statement

Balfolk Toronto is a not for profit organization which organizes events in Toronto and in
Ontario around the social traditional folk dancing and traditional folk music of western
Europe, with a focus on France traditions. Under the umbrella of “Balfolk”, this tradition
is also a growing and evolving tradition, not a reenactment, and can include modern
composed tunes, as well as the ever changing manifestation of social folk dance in a
modern world, while still being rooted in tradition.

We organize:

1) Weekly Drop in jams/dances on Mondays. These events are pay-what-you-can, have a jam leader host, and are open to all to participate. Usually in a bar or cafe.

2) Larger Bals + One-off Workshops. These are ticketed events with visiting out of town
bands and teachers, often focussing on a specific regional music and dance.

3) Yearly Big Branch Festival. A 3-day ticketed event which brings in multiple international
performers and teachers specializing in regional traditions.

“Balfolk in a Box” – occasionally Balfolk Toronto is hired at another event to provide
music and teach dances. In this case we pay musicians (and dancers if the budget is
big enough), and we give 10% back to the Balfolk Toronto fund.

Value Statement

Balfolk Toronto values:

Community and Accessibility: We offer pay-what-you-can events, opportunities for
amateur musicians to jam with professionals, entry-level dance events open to all
experience levels and backgrounds. (See our safe space policy for a more detailed statement on our accessibility values.)

Education + Creativity: We offer the community with opportunities to learn about
traditional folk music and dance cultures and regional differences, with a focus on
France and western Europe. We provide opportunities for Canadians to learn directly
from the source: professional musicians and dance teachers from Europe. We value
giving people the opportunity of creative expression through social dance and folk
music, in teaching simple dances that have room for improvisation and connection to
the music, and in creating a performance environment where musicians can play
dynamically and creatively.

Supporting Professional Artistic Practice: We pay professional rates to artists in our
workshops and concerts/bals. We encourage professionals to study and learn the
tradition but also support the creation and composition of new music for dancing within
the Balfolk genre(s).

Vision Statement

Balfolk Toronto envisions a community of dancers, singers and musicians, spreading
joy, creativity and connection through traditional dance and music. We see a community
that is continuously learning about traditional dances and music and developing their
own methods of creative expression and community engagement through dancing
these dances and playing these tunes in our current environment, community and era.

Balfolk Toronto Safe Space Agreement and Anti-Harassment Policy

Building a community on respect and appreciation, and having fun through music and

In order for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time at our events, it is expected that
everyone treats others with respect.

*We welcome folks of all identities to Balfolk. Racist, homophobic, transphobic,
misogynistic, ableist, and body shaming language will not be tolerated.

*Someone of the same, different, or indeterminate gender, of any age, race, or ability
has the right to ask you to dance, and you have the right to decline without giving any
reason. Yes and no are equally valued here.

*In partner dances we leave it up to you to decide together who will lead and who will
follow. Or switch it up during the dance! Ensure that you and your dance partner are
comfortable with the way in which you are dancing, and don’t assume which role the
other would like to dance.

*We aim for all of our facilitators and and community members not to gender our
dances in order to make them available and open to all who want to participate.

*Just because someone has danced a dance with you, does not mean they are looking
to stay connected the whole night, go on a date with you, or more. If people ask for
space after a dance, please respect their wishes.

If someone is engaging in verbal, physical, or emotional manipulation or
harassment as described by the guidelines above, they will be asked to leave.

If at any point you feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a participant, please let an organizer
know. (Key Organizers: Alan Cerclier, Lea Kirstein, Reenie Perkovic, Janina Kowalski, Kathryn Durst, Elin Marley, Tangi Ropars). We are committed to ensuring folks feel welcome at all of
our events.