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Tapestry Folk Dance Center: around the world in south Minneapolis

Posted on 27 May 2015 by calvin

Reporting and Photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Just inside its stylish bricTapestry dancers 2k façade, Tapestry Folkdance Center invites the public to participate in the joys of music and dance from around the world. Located at 3748 Minnehaha Ave., the lively non-profit offers different dance events every night of the week.

The array of dance styles assures that there is something for everyone. Choose from contra, techno-contra, waltz, Nordic, ballroom, International, Bollywood, Gypsy, English, family, line dance and more. Don’t know how to dance? No problem, instruction is provided ½ hour before most dances officially begin, and the dances are often “called” as they proceed.

A night out at Tapestry is an affordable, comfortable way to spend an evening with or without a partner. Many styles of dance don’t require a partner at all, such as Bollywood or line dancing. If you choose to come to a contra or waltz event without a partner, anyone can ask anyone to dance. The more experienced dancers often serve as “dance ambassadors,” inviting those who are new to step onto the dance floor with them.

Mary CummingsPHOTO: Arts Administrator Mary Cummings, executive director at Tapestry. 

Arts administrator Mary Cummings is the executive director at Tapestry. Now in her fourth year, she formerly oversaw the operations at the Loft Literary Center, the Bloomington Theater, the Minnesota Museum of Art and Ensemble Capriccio. “I’m learning that I most enjoy serving people who want to make an art form part of their everyday lives,” she said. “Dancing gives you the chance to connect in a very real way with other human beings.”

Tapestry got its start in 1983 and rented several different locations before purchasing its current building in 1999. “It’s extraordinarily uncommon to have a space exist solely for the purpose of dancing,” Cummings said. “We are not a community center—we are a dance center where the community is welcome. There are only one or two places like Tapestry in the country.”

To hear Cummings talk, owning a building is not the easiest solution but it may be the most rewarding. She reflected on the original renovation, saying, “There was a whole lot of sweat equity that went into transforming this building from a full-service garage into a dance center. It took legions of volunteers to scrub the place down, hang drywall, level the old concrete floor and install hardwood floors suited for dancing.”

Tapestry Folk Dance CenterWhile anyone is welcome to come and dance, Tapestry is a membership organization. Many functions are carried out by volunteers, such as taking admissions, planning dances, fundraising and keeping the place looking sharp. Cummings said, “I foster the values of membership and volunteering but if the soil weren’t good to begin with, nothing would grow.

Tapestry could not exist without the passion and dedication of the people who dance here.”

There are about 350 members currently and, as Cummings added, “Anytime you join an organization, it’s a nice way of expressing your commitment to the work they do.”

Dancers come to Tapestry from all walks of life, from all over the cities and beyond. They may have many things in common or only one—that they’re all united on the dance floor.

Tapestry dancersDancer Ron Williams said, “When I dance at Tapestry, I feel as if I’m holding hands not only with the people standing next to me, but with people from centuries past.” Living these traditional dances, not just learning them, is an important part of keeping the old, valued dance traditions alive.

Down to the nuts and bolts now: what do you wear for your first time out?

Comfortable shoes are a must, as is clothing that breathes. Parking will be a little more challenging this summer with the Minnehaha Ave. construction project, but you can stash your car on side streets, in the lot owned by Tapestry on the south side of the building, or across the street in the lot adjacent to Midwest Windows. Tapestry is easily accessible by bike, and the 38th St. LRT stop is only three blocks away.

Go to www.tapestryfolkdance.org to see their up-to-date schedule of music and dance from around the world. Where else can you experience the fun of a New England Barn Dance, the exuberance of Macedonia, the vibrant energy of Mumbai or the lilting rhythms of Scotland —all through the soles of your feet and without having to bring a passport?

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