By Dwane Starlin
During my many years of acting, I am always amazed at the incredible number of events that are available here in DC. Regretfully I often fail to attend something that I know will be great because of conflicts or inertia. Fortunately in the case of the latter, I can usually be induced by personal invitations from friends and acquaintances. A recent incentive came in December when T Street residents Linda Brooks and Ross Schipper handed me a flyer for the Christmas Revels’ A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice in Music, Dance, and Drama at Lisner Auditorium. Performed December 10 through 18 by a cast of more than 100 people, ages 8 through 85, the spectacle revisited the culture, myths, songs, dances, and regional costumes of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Karelia (the region to the east with a language, music, and culture related to that of Finland).
Linda and Ross, who host the annual Burleith gløgg party, are the major domos of Scandia DC, which is dedicated to the presentation and enjoyment of Norwegian and Swedish dances here in the Washington metropolitan area. They are also members of Nordic Dancers of Washington, D.C. and have taught Norwegian and Swedish bygdedans (regional and village folk dances) for over 30 years, performing at many venues including the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
For the Christmas event, Ross and Linda brought 10 members of Scandia DC and taught the Scandinavian folk dances to members of the Revel's cast. The couple performed in Norwegian folk costumes, called bunad. Ross was wearing a bunad from Nordland in northern Norway, the area where Ross's maternal grandmother was born. Ross's bunad was made by his mother. Linda wore a handmade bunad from Valdres, a district in central southern Norway.
During the first act, Ross and Linda performed a slow dignified dance from the town of Rättvik in Dalarna, a district in central Sweden. This was followed by a very lively medley of two other Swedish dances. They began dancing Klackpolska, a dance from the northeastern Swedish district of Ångermanland, which transitioned mid-dance into a springdans from the southwestern Swedish district of Bohuslän. The springdans included a traditional move where the woman kicks her feet up to the ceiling with help from the man. At the same time, Ross managed to extract a red cap hidden in his vest and placed it on Linda's head. To end the dance, Ross lifted Linda and turned her around before gently bringing her back to earth.
Needless to say, both Ross and Linda’s dancing as well as the entire event were spectacular and quite entertaining! It definitely added to the festive DC holiday season. Bravo and kudos to Linda and Ross!