Tom Roby


Contras, international

Tom Roby


Tom Roby began folkdancing as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College and has been passionately pursuing it ever since. As a teacher, Tom is especially well versed in Balkan line dances, improvisational Hungarian dances, and English & American set dances, which he calls regularly. He also has a keen interest in other couple dances, both choreographed and led or followed, such as, waltz, zwiefacher, Scandinavian, and the Lindy. Now based in Connecticut, Tom calls dances around New England and teaches and festivals and dance weekends farther afield.

Tom was an active leader and teacher in the MIT Folk Dance Club from 1986-1991, where he learned many dances that are rarely done anymore. During a two-year postdoc in Japan, Tom danced regularly with the Tokyo Scottish Blue Bell Club and the Balkan group "Xoros." He also attended workshops with Tom Bozigian, Joe Graziosi, Atanas Kolarovski, Yves Moreau, and others, where they taught at about three times the pace of a typical North American workshop. He then taught folkdancing for PE credit at Reed College (1993-95), and to local groups in Madison, Wisconsin (1995-97). Tom has taught Balkan dancing at Ashkenaz (Berkeley, California), the Albany YMCA, the Stanford International Folkdancers, and the Berkeley Folk Dancers weekend at Monte Toyon (assisting Neal Sandler). He has also taught improvisational Hungarian dancing at Ashkenaz, and called contras and English dances for groups from Sacramento to Monterey.

He has taught at the New England Folk Festival ("NEFFA"), the Arcata Folkdance Festival, and in various local groups around the country. He frequently partners with Marjorie Nugent for teaching Hungarian and Balkan dances. He has called English dances with Bare Necessities in Dartington Hall (Devonshire) and the Assembly Hall in Bath, England. He is the Dancing Master for the 2004 BACDS Playford Ball and the English caller for the BACDS Spring Weekend in Monte Toyon.

Tom was the featured caller at the 2009 Cascadia English Country Dance weekend in Seattle. He was the Dancing Master for the 2004 BACDS Playford Ball and the English caller for the 2004 (and upcoming 2010) BACDS Spring Dance Weekend in Monte Toyon. He has called English dances with Bare Necessities at Dartington Hall (Devonshire) and the Assembly Hall in Bath, England, and for local groups across northern California and New England. Many semesters he has taught a one-credit course through the University of Connecticut's First Year Programsand called Jane Austen Dances where he introduces students to the pleasures of English and American set dancing. He also composes dances as time permits.

Tom started calling contra dances in Portland, Oregon (under Mary Devlin), then became a regular caller in Madison, Wisconsin, and the San Francisco Bay area. He has called dances from Sacramento to Monterey and around Connecticut.

Tom's goal as a teacher and caller is to get dancers moving to music as quickly as possible, while still helping them improve their style and connection to the music and each other. His teaching style is clear, lively, and fun. He continues to hone this craft, always looking for ways to mazimize teaching efficiency. Beginners and advanced dancers alike enjoy Tom's infectious enthusiasm and relaxed attitude. His sense of humor and quick wit speak for themselves.

Since moving to Connecticut, Tom has taught workshops for the West Hartford IFD group Always on Sunday, taught dances for the band XOPO, and continues to program and teach at various dances, including the revival of the advanced MIT Tuesday Night Balkan dance group.

Dances Tom has taught include Another Art & Nancy's Fancy, Another Nancy's Fancy, Barham Down, Better Day Better Deed, Bickerstaff's Prophesie, Black and Grey, Bloomsbury Market, Bonny Grey-ey'd Morn, Brzi Čačak, Cadgers' Caper, Charlene's Celebration, Collier's Daughter, Companions, Contras (Jigs), Cookow (The), Count Leon, Cuckolds All a Row, Drapers Gardens 2, Draw Cupid Draw, Dunant House Waltz, Early Frost (An), Easter Morn, Elizabeth, Elverton Grove, Emperor of the Moon, Epsom New Wells, Gay Young Squire, Hambleton's Round-O, Head for the Hole, Helena, Heydaze, Highlanders Humour, Honeysuckle Cottage, Hortonia, Hudson Barn, Impropriety, Installation, Key to the Cellar, Kind and Easey, La Bastringue, Leather Lake House, Mad Robin, Mary K, Mayfair, Mîdrele, Mouse Trap (The) or Old Hob, Neat Mr John, Nottingham Swing, Nu Šest-Reskavka, Peace be With You, Pine in the Path, Physical Snob, Puck's Deceit, Ramblin' Rosie, Roll in the Hay, Saint Albans, Sally in Our Alley, Siege of Limerick, Shandy Hall, Shrewsbury Lasses, Sîrba de la Belcesti, Softly Good Tummas, Sunset Limited, Tapestry, Thompson's Whim, Trip to Tunbridge, Vigo, Wakefield Hunt, Waters of Holland, Waverly Station, Well Done Jack, Well Hall, Whatley Barn, Whimbleton House, Whiskers, Widows Shall All Have Husbands, Winter Solstice, Woodstock Park, and Zombies of Sugar Hill.