Leslie Barr presents: The Contra Dancer's Guide to French Dancing: from Bal to Balfolk

Thursday September 23, 2021, at 8:00pm EST

Circle dances and branles from what feels like the dawn of time; dances in lines and squares that trickled down to French villages from the contredanses and quadrilles of the Parisian court; 19th century couple dances with the radical idea that you can dance face to face with your partner - these are all part of the fabulous dance scene called balfolk, born in France but now found all over Europe (and growing in North America.) Similar to the evolution of contra dancing in New England, these rural traditions of music and dance in France, once almost forgotten, were revived in the 1970's. Over the decades, they have since been reinterpreted and remixed into something new, whether inspired by those traditions, or fully in the camp of neo-trad. With music, images and video, Leslie Barr will introduce you to the amazing music and dance of France, and tell the story of the evolution from bal to balfolk.

Leslie Barr discovered French traditional music in the 1980s and has been traveling to France to play and dance ever since. A fiddler, her particular love is the music of the violoneux of Central France - bourrees, scottishes, mazurkas, and valses. She has attended countless bals, learning the dances of France's many regions, and, with her academic background in ethnomusicology, has explored both the roots and the revival of what the French call musique populaire. She has given workshops in French traditional dance music and played for balfolk dances throughout the Northeast.

Here are lists of the videos included in the talk, people to contact about Balfolk in the USA and other resources.

Join us: Invitations to our online events are sent to the Mt. Airy Contra Dance email list on Monday or Tuesday before the event. To be added to our email list, send email to with your full name and the location of your local contra dance.

You can also watch Leslie's talk on Facebook here.