Albuquerque Folk Festival Logo

We're working on 2015 information.

We're back at last year's location: The Albuquerque International Ballooon Museum. We're busy planning what should be the best Albuquerque Folk Festival yet, with camping and jamming Friday and Saturday nights, and entertainment, workshops, and dancing all day Saturday, June 6. As soon as we have final information, we'll put it up here. In the meantime, we've left the 2014 information up so you can get a feel for the fun you'll have at the Albuquerque Folk Festival.

Dancing at the Festival

The dancing just gets better and better every year at the Festival. On Saturday, the dance workshops, in two venues, start at 10:30 a.m. Take a dinner break at 6:30 p.m. and then come back for the Saturday evening dances that start at 7:30 p.m.. This year, the Barn Dance co-sponsored by ADC will feature The Rifters, and the Contra Dance, sponsored by FolkMADS, will feature the Albuquerque Megaband with the New Mexico Callers Collective, The Next Generation calling.

Of course, you can always dance to the live music at various venues around the festival. And if you feel like dance jammin', you can join in the Band/Dance Scramble, with planning, rehearsal, and name creation from 4:30-5:30 p.m. and performance from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Dance Workshops

Here's our 2014 dance workshop schedule, with two dance venues. Don't miss the chance to try all kinds of different dancing styles. Thanks to Patsy Gregory for organizing the dance workshops.

Dance Tent

10:30 AMContra DanceErik Erhardt with The Thrifters

People new to contra dancing have described it as "a kaleidoscope, a weaving, a quilting with humans to music" and "a human whirligig: people moving in patterns to live music". This "rhythmic swirl of awesomeness and dancing" is as easy as walking and holding hands with a richness coming from its endless variations and quality of connection between dancers. Contra dancing is a style of traditional American folk social dance in long line sets down the dance hall with your partner across from you. Under the prompting of a dance caller, each dancer and their partner dances with a couple next to them in the larger set forming moving figures as the couples progress up or down the set. These dances are social, providing opportunity for dancers to relate to each other in a fun and non-stressful way. All of the dances are taught, and beginners are welcomed warmly and encouraged. Come enjoy the "geometry in motion -- order out of chaos" by contra dancing with us!

Every Saturday you can enjoy contra and traditional community dancing with the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society (FolkMADS). On the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month dances are in Albuquerque, and on 2nd and 4th Saturdays they are in Santa Fe (see

Caller Erik Erhardt calls contra and English country dance and teaches couples dancing (such as rotary and cross-step waltz and Scandinavian) at local community dances, dance weekends, and dance weeks throughout the U.S.

The Thrifters is Deb Bluestone, violin/viola (Albuquerque, NM), and Dave Faires, guitar/vocals/percussion (Sandia Park, NM).

Since 2011, The Thrifters has provided music for Contra dances (with callers Erik Erhardt, Katherine Bueler, Noralyn Parsons, and others) in Santa Fe and Albuquerque; weekly classes of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society/Albuquerque branch; Contra and Scottish dance demonstrations at the Albuquerque Folk Festival; and demonstrations and balls for the Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival and Highland Games.

Together with other musicians, Deb and Dave also play for English County Dance as Anonymous Tomato, and explore the singer/songwriter repertoire blended with traditional Celtic, American, and Scandinavian folk music.

11:30 AMScottish Country DanceKenneth Armstrong with The Thrifters

The Enchantment Scottish Country Dancers love dancing. We meet on Friday nights and new people are very welcome to join us. Scottish Country Dancing is usually done in a four couple set. The dances are Reels, Jigs and Strathspeys and are great fun and good exercise. Further information from Kenneth Armstrong at 294-0042 or

The Thrifters is Deb Bluestone, violin/viola (Albuquerque, NM), and Dave Faires, guitar/vocals/percussion (Sandia Park, NM).

Since 2011, The Thrifters has provided music for Contra dances (with callers Erik Erhardt, Katherine Bueler, Noralyn Parsons, and others) in Santa Fe and Albuquerque; weekly classes of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society/Albuquerque branch; Contra and Scottish dance demonstrations at the Albuquerque Folk Festival; and demonstrations and balls for the Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival and Highland Games.

Together with other musicians, Deb and Dave also play for English County Dance as Anonymous Tomato, and explore the singer/songwriter repertoire blended with traditional Celtic, American, and Scandinavian folk music.

12:30 PMSwing DanceDonna Howell

Swing Dance is an accessible, energetic and versatile dance that can be done to mellow rhythm and blues, big band tunes, rock 'n' roll or country music. This is 6-count east coast swing, AKA jitterbug, bebop, 6 count Lindy, or western swing.

Donna Howell ( has taught social dancing and historic dances for 25 years and currently teaches East and West Coast Swing, waltz, two-step, and polka at the Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe. She also calls contra and English Country dances and produces a weekly music program on Santa Fe Public Radio (KSFR) called "GottaDance". For an example of this dance and some of the moves we'll learn, see: YouTube

1:30 PMIrish CeiliNorita Callahan

A lively Irish hoedown, led by Norita Callahan, with round, line and square figures danced to reels 'n jigs 'n hornpipe music.

Traditional Irish Ceili (K-lee) folk dance classes for beginners - pre-teen to adult - are held on Wednesday evenings at 7pm.

These classes have been on-going in Albuquerque since 1985.

Ceili dances are simple, mildly aerobic and no partner is needed. We dance 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 16 hand dances in round, square and line formations. The lively music - which makes your feet want to dance - are reels, jigs, polkas and hornpipes.

Please call/email Norita 298-2708, for more information. IT'S FUN - Join us...

2:30 PMIrish Step DanceJennifer London and Kim Coleman with Saoirse

Irish Step Dance is noted for leaps, points, and other precise foot movements, done to complex rhythms such as jigs, reels, and hornpipes. Two varieties, soft shoe and hard shoe, can be done as solos, in couples, or in larger groups.

3:30 PMInternational Folk DancingBill Croft, Carol Toffaleti & TBA

Teaching international folk dances from Europe, the Balkans and the Near East.

Bill Croft has been dancing international folk dance since 1981, and Carol Toffaleti since 1977. Bill and Carol began dancing in California, led the international folk dance group in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the late 1980s, and danced in Manchester, UK before moving to Albuquerque in 2006. They have attended workshops in California, Michigan, Illinois and the UK.

4:30 PMDare to be SquareKris Jensen

Square dancing is a truly American folk dance that's evolved over the years to its current modern form. In this session, we'll learn dances that show how square dancing has changed over time, and you'll see a demo of the exciting modern dance where the dancers never know what will come next. You won't need any experience to try a little do-si-do; everyone's welcome.

Kris Jensen calls both modern and traditional squares locally and around the country.

For more information on modern square dancing in Albuquerque, check the Albuquerque Square Dance Center's website at FolkMADS contra dances often include traditional square dances; check them out at

5:30 PMCountry 2-StepSusan and Gary Kellogg

You'll be dancing NM's most popular country dance, the Country 2-Step, by the end of class! No partners/experience needed. Following the lesson, practice your new steps at the "Barn Dance Under the Stars" to live music by The Rifters at 7:30pm. Presenters Gary & Susan have been teaching dance in ABQ for over 20 years. Susan is editor of the free E-newsletter called "Local DanceNews" which posts LOTS of fun dance activities in New Mexico, as well as where to learn just about any form of dance. To subscribe to LDN, and for info on the ABQ Dance Club (over 700 members) and their dance lessons offered through UNM Continuing Education, please e-mail or call 505-299-3737. "We look forward to dancing with you soon!"

Indoor Dance

10:30 AMScandinavian DanceCraig Olson and Leslie Best

Enjoy lively couple's turning dances from Scandinavia! Easier Scandinavian folk dances will be taught for all to enjoy. The music is traditionally fiddle music in 2-part harmony, but other instruments unique to Scandinavia are also used. These include the hardanger fiddle of Norway, and the nyckelharpa of Sweden.

Scandinavian folk dancing and folk music have a long history dating back several hundred years. The dances include set dances (choreographed dances for small groups), gammaldans ("old" dances, about 100 years old, that include the vals, schottis, polka, snoa, and the Hambo), and bygdedans (village dances, that are up to 500 years old). Our main focus is on gammaldans and bygdedans – couple's turning dances from areas all over Sweden and Norway.

Some of the dances are in 2/4 time, but most of the dances are in 3/4 time. For the fast turns, the couple will typically make a complete revolution in one measure. To make things more interesting (and more challenging), the men and women's steps are usually different, the music is usually syncopated, and there is an up/down motion (called "svikt" in Norway). The syncopation and svikt are unique for each dance.

We have learned most of the dances directly from dance teachers and fiddlers from Sweden and Norway at numerous workshops in the U.S. over the past 27 years. We have been teaching and dancing Scandinavian folk dances in Albuquerque for more than 27 years.

The Scandinavian Folk Dance group meets at the Lloyd Shaw Dance Center in Albuquerque on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 7:30 – 10:00 PM. Everyone is welcome, either single or partners, and we frequently change partners. If you are interested in Scandinavian folk dancing, please contact Craig Olson at (505) 922-1157 for further information.

11:30 AMHawaiian HulaCindi Heffner with Ha`aheo O Hawai`i

Come and learn the basic hand, foot, and body movements that entwine to tell stories of Hawaii's history and every aspect of Hawaiian life touched by the spirit of aloha.

12:30 PMTribal Belly DanceFlo Bargar with Sadaqah

Get moving with Tribal Style Belly Dance! A workshop for all ages and skill levels. Learn to show off your newly found belly dance skills with sassy and hiptastic belly dance moves to live music by Sadaqah! A short demonstration of working in a group improvisational setting will also be presented by the Rogue Bindis!

Sadaqah is an ensemble of friends. Sadaqah is a word that means "friendship" in several middle-eastern languages. It has also come to represent an ideal of good will and mutual respect that transcends languages, cultures and borders.

The music of Sadaqah takes you on a journey of the Silk Road and the caravan routes of Ancient Arabia. Sadaqah blends music of Greece, Turkey and the Arabic Countries. A unique group of musicians gather under the banner of Sadaqah to bring their talent and message to a world hungry for peace and harmony, not to mention fun! For more information contact Beth Beaver by email at or phone at 505-281-5141.

1:30 PMChacareraThe Tango Club of Albuquerque

Chacarera is one of the most famous folklore dances of Argentina. It is fun to dance and very easy to learn. Chacarera is danced in couples but without embrace and follows a given choreography. All couples line up facing each other. The basic idea of chacarera is courting each other in order to be together in the end. For an example, see YouTube.

2:30 PMCuban Salsa (Casino and Rueda de Casino)Sarita Streng

In Cuba, the "equivalent" of salsa dance is known as "casino." Casino is a vibrant dance that has incorporated son, mambo, chacha, Afro-Cuban sacred dance, East Coast swing and more into its movements. Casino may also be danced in a circle or wheel - similar to contra dance - with partner switching and a caller. Come experience the "de facto" national dance of Cuba at this workshop taught by Sarita Streng.

Sarita Streng has a M.A. in Dance Education from UCLA's World Arts and Cultures program and is a co-director of the documentary film "La Salsa Cubana." She is the director of the Rueda 505 Dance Company and teaches at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. She can be reached at or 505-288-8713.

3:30 PMCross Step WaltzGary Diggs with Mad Robin

Cross-Step waltz is a relatively new social dance form, in large measure invented at Stanford in 1995, but has roots in dances of the ragtime era. Drawing on tango, swing, as well as waltz traditions, it is designed to facilitate spontaneity. For a demonstration and more info go to Stanford Cross Step Waltz, or simply search on "Richard Powers waltz".

"Mad Robin" is the current name for a group of talented and experienced musicians who have been playing together in different bands and types of music for over 20 years. Musical tunes are selected from English Country, Old Timey Fiddle, waltzes of all ethnicities, swing, classical and folk/pop songs of Latin, Irish, German and Scandanavian origins. "Mad Robin" is the name of a particular move in English Country Dancing, the name of a specific tune, and a particularly good name for a group of slightly crazy mature musicians who are always weaving new harmonies around each other and old tunes while in their heads imagining how they would be dancing it if they weren't sitting there playing for you!

The members include: Tom Hunter, mandolin/guitar/vocals, has played for Megaband, and danced with Folkmads and International Folk dancing for decades. (Sometimes he'd rather dance than play.) He has also been a member of "Ketulka's Retreat", focusing on jazz, swing, and Latin tunes. By day he uses lightning electricity to fix things at UNM.

Doc Litchman, clarinet, who is also a notorious caller of English Country Dance in our community. He was an originator of the group "Boxwood Consort." He was an outstanding instructor of chemistry at UNM, noted one of the members who took one of his courses.

Gary Mayhem, guitar, who shines in English Country and classical styles, was a member of "Boxwood Consort." He also plays with "Megaband." He is a retired-NOT tired- math teacher.

Julie Paladino, viola and violin, was a member of "Half Gypsy" and "Baillywick". She has also played with "String Song" and "Tersetto Trio." By day, Julie teaches orchestra in Albuquerque Public Schools (God bless her!), and on certain nights, she moonlights as a player or folk dancer.

Sherilyn Welton, cello/piano/harp/violin/vocals, has been a member of "Boxwood Consort," "Tersetto Trio", "Megaband," and an originator of "Distant Cousins," "Ketulka's Retreat" and "String Song." She has also played with the Santa Fe Symphony and Musical Theater Southwest, and sung with "Opera Southwest" and "Opera Unlimited." She owns and runs a music store in Los Lunas, (come see it!) teaches high school English, private music lessons, and dances in her not-spare time.

4:30 PMYiddish DanceRikud Yiddish Dancers and Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band

Rikud Yiddish dancers will lead you in traditional Eastern European Jewish dances to Klezmer music performed by the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band.

Both groups rehearse regularly and are open for the public to join. The groups also co-produce along with the non-profit Nahalat Shalom "Klezmerquerque" - a weekend of workshops and performances featuring world-renowned klezmer dancers, musicians & scholars held annually over Presidents' Day Weekend.

For more information regarding klezmer/Yiddish music and dance events in the area, Rikud, the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, and Klezmerquerque visit: (click on "klezmer music/dance") and/or contact Beth Cohen at (505) 243-6276, E-mail:

5:30 PMDancing Along the Santa Fe TrailHigh Desert Dancers

Jim Calvert has been the director and choreographer of the High Desert Dancers since founding the group in 1982. The main focus of the troupe has always been western dance, but their repertoire is as varied as the cultures of the Southwest and, at times, contains some real surprises. This year's workshop will focus on several dances that were commonly seen around the campfires of the many wagon trains that traveled the Santa Fe trail from St. Louis to Santa Fe, beginning with the Varsouvianna, and a quadrille or two, and ending with a folk version of the "Cotton-eyed Joe". Contact info: email: phone: (505) 869-6391

Evening dancing for everybody

Saturday Night

Variety Barn Dance "under the stars" in the Dance Tent, 7:30-10:30 p.m., sponsored in part by the Albuquerque Dance Club. Music by The Rifters

The Rifters are Rod Taylor (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Don Richmond (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, pedal steel guitar, dobro, harmonica, vocals), and Jim Bradley (bass, vocals). Putting out more music than it seems should be right for three guys on stage, the Rifters employ a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments, combined with soaring three-part harmonies, to provide a mesmerizing variety of music from driving blue-grama-grass to ethereal desert beauty. The years of playing to the dance crowds in their northern New Mexico homeland has given their music a toe-tapping rhythm that is engaging and undeniable. With a pedigree of bands like Hired Hands, the Rounders, and South by Southwest among them, the Rifters are truly a musical voice of their region of high desert vistas and mountain majesty.


NM FolkMADS Contra Dance in the Indoor Dance area from 7:30 - 10:30 p.m..  Music by the Albuquerque Megaband and calling by the New Mexico Callers Collective, TNG

The Albuquerque Megaband is an open acoustic band that plays for each 3rd Saturday contra dance in ABQ. Since its beginnings in the early 1980s it has provided a place for experienced musicians and those just starting out to play together at FolkMADS dances, workshops, and occasionally other events.

The New Mexico Callers Collective, The Next Generation:

  • Erik Erhardt calls contra and English, instructs couples dance, and organizes dance in New Mexico, traveling widely for dancing and community building.
  • Nate Puffer - Lawyer, fiddler, dance caller, loud harmony singer, bicyclist, tattooist, gardener, soothsayer. Sometimes professional, mostly not.
  • Danielle Boudreau - Hailing from Vermont, Danielle is a longtime dancer, new caller, and leader of vocal harmony workshops.
  • Lauren Soherr is an eighth grader who has been calling dances in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico since she was 10.

Others include: Jessie Parker, Ben Werner, Ben Bean, Maddy Mullany, Laura Clor, Megan Slinkard, Marie Milne, and Martina Mesmer.