The International Folk Dancers of Ottawa have been dancing together for more than 50 years. The group was founded in 1968 when three smaller folk dance groups merged to form one larger group. Since then, many more members have joined and the group has not only grown in size, but also in diversity. At IFDO you will see people of many different ages, backgrounds, and abilities all dancing and having fun together. This is exactly the strength of our group: we do not take ourselves too seriously and our main goal is to have a good time and enjoy the beautiful music and dances together.
International Folk Dancing
International folk dance, also called world dance or international dance, is a type of community dance done to music from different countries and regions around the world. Many of the dances that are performed by international folk dance groups are traditional dances that are still danced at certain occasions in their country of origin. Other dances are more recent choreographies to world music and can either originate from a particular country or have been choreographed in a particular style for the enjoyment of international folk dance groups.
While there is an enormous variation in the style of dances, the one thing all international folk dances have in common is that the contact and cooperation with other dancers are an essential part of the dance. Many of the dances are done in an open or closed circle with dancers holding hands, but even in dances that are done individually, the group moves together; couple dances are often mixers where one changes partner several times during a dance. Moving and working together as a group by dancing to beautiful music results in a great sense of togetherness and joy, which makes international folk dancing much more than mere exercise… and might also explain why so many people remain hooked, even after decades of dancing
Dancing with IFDO
IFDO meets every Thursday from 7:15 – 10:15 pm, all year long. The only Thursdays we do not dance are those that fall on statutory holidays, when the community centre is closed. At certain times during the year, a series of classes for intermediate to advanced dancers are offered on Monday nights. Please contact us if you would like more information about the time and location of the Monday classes.
Thursday Night Dances
Thursday evenings are divided into three parts, but this does not mean these are separate groups: everyone can come and dance all evening (and many people do!).
Our Early Group starts at 7:15 pm by warming up with a few easy dances, followed by the teaching of basic dances and steps. This group is geared toward newer dancers, but many of our experienced dancers join in as well. At 8:00 pm an intermediate or advanced dance is taught and reviewed for 2 or 3 weeks. At 8:45 pm it is time to just dance. Each week a different volunteer takes care of the program, which consists of recently taught dances and requests. Click here to get an idea of our repertoire.
Every last Thursday of the month is Request Night, which means there is no teaching at 8:00 pm and we start dancing right away. Navigate to Upcoming Events to see what is happening at IFDO in the coming weeks.
Fees / Membership
The annual membership fee of C$85 will give you access to all Thursday night dances, including teaching. Non-members pay C$5 to attend a Thursday night dance; your first visit is free.
Location & Parking
We meet at Jack Purcell Community Centre, Room 203. Free parking is available in the parking lot behind the Community Center, as well as in some designated parking spots on Jack Purcell Lane (for which parking passes can be requested at the Community Center front desk). Free street parking can also be found on nearby side streets.
Please note that Elgin Street is currently under construction and will be fully closed to car traffic for the entire year 2019. Parking on the side streets and in the Community Centre parking lot is still available. While construction is ongoing, free parking is also available at City Hall after 6 pm on weekdays; this is only a short walk from Jack Purcell Community Centre.
Both our Google Calendar and our Facebook Group are updated regularly and will show upcoming teaching and other events.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have never danced before, can I still join?
Absolutely!! Folk dances are meant to be enjoyed by everyone and, with some practice, you will be able to do it. It may take some time to feel completely comfortable with the movements and steps, but you can enjoy the beautiful music and social interaction from the first minute.
Attending the classes at 7:15 pm will help you to learn the basics; and, during the dancing later in the evening, you can pick up a lot by simply following. If a dance is easy enough, the more experienced dancers will often let you know and invite you into the line. Often a second line is formed behind the other dancers for those who are trying to learn. Never forget that everyone was a beginner once and even those who have danced for many years do not know all the dances and will sometimes be trying to learn too.
Do I need to bring a partner?
You do not need to bring a partner. Most dances are done in a line or a circle, holding hands with the people beside you. Some dances are done individually, and partners are found spontaneously for the occasional couple dance. Anyone can ask another to dance.
What should I wear?
On a typical Thursday night, dress is casual. Most dancers will wear something in which they can move comfortably, and which will not be too warm. Wearing a few layers mostly works well. For parties, some dancers like to dress up, either in a traditional costume or just a fancier outfit than usual. Shoes should be low heel indoor shoes; dancing is easier if they are not too sticky.
What else should I bring?
Dancing will make you warm and thirsty, so bringing a water bottle is a good idea.
What kind of music will I be dancing to?
Except at some special parties, we dance to recorded music. The styles of music are as varied as the styles of dance we do. Please click the audio player below to hear some samples of the music we dance to.
Over the course of 50 years, IFDO has built up a repertoire of thousands of dances. Some old time favourites continue to be danced and are retaught now and then, but our teachers also continue to bring new dances to the club.
Below you will see the top 10 dances done most at IFDO in the last 3 years. To see the complete list of dances done in that time period, click the download button below.
1. Kirmizi Biber – Turkey
2. Chilili – Bolivia
3. Humppa Promenade – Finland
4. Hajde Merre Furken – Albania
5. Mahala – Hungary (Roma)
6. Opinca – Romania
7. Yolanda – Cuba
8. Fado Portugues – Portugal
9. Takanata – Bulgaria
10. Valle Kcim – Albania
One of our members keeps a list of various folk dances, including links to videos and files with the sheet music.
Please click here to access this valuable resource.