Member Feature: Belgian Folkdancers of Winnipeg

In 1987, the Belgian community hosted its first Folklorama Pavilion. For their inaugural event, they hired a Belgian-American folk dance group from San Antonio, Texas. The community saw this as an opportunity to contribute to the city’s cultural diversity and decided to form their own group, The Belgian Folkdancers of Winnipeg, in the fall of that same year.

The Belgian Folkdancers of Winnipeg made their Folklorama debut in 1988, and have since become a staple of the Festival’s lineup and a long-standing member of the Folklorama Family.

We spoke with Suzanne Armstrong to learn more about the group.

“We currently have three dance groups, ” says Armstrong.”The Waaltjes, which is the children’s dance group with ages ranging from 3 to 8 years old; the Junior Dance Group (intermediate) where we learn many basic steps; and the Senior Dance Group which performs more intricate and complex steps.”

Although the group is small with 20-30 dancers between all three levels, they have made a huge impact on the community. All of the music is played live on an accordion and the costumes are made by local volunteers and help to utilize other community members to exhibit traditional wear from the different regions of Belgium. With each new dance they learn they get to highlight the diversity within Belgian culture.

“Our shows try to educate the audience on Belgian folklore and the history behind the dances,” said Armstrong. “We find it very interesting to locate dances from Belgium that are new to us and bring those to life for our audiences here in Manitoba.”

If you have ever stepped foot into the Belgian Pavilion you’ve seen firsthand just how much fun the Belgian Folkdancers of Winnipeg are to watch and likely learned some facts about Belgium while you were there.

Thank you, Belgian Folkdacners of Winnipeg for all of your hard work and dedication to showcasing various aspects of your culture through the art of dance.