Drum & Dance


          Drum and Dance at Dance Spree succeeds to the old Ritual Arts Collective, which put on 8 Drum & Dance events per year in South Amherst from 2002-2015. Based on the spectacular success of the first two Drum & Dances under the new incarnation, the leaders of Dance Spree decided on 12/30/2016 to hand Western Massachusetts's flagship freestyle group over to the Drum & Dance leadership, making them one organization.

          Drum & Dance differs from the freestyle boogie in that instead of a DJ or even a live band, the music consists of drumming that is leaderless, spontaneous and free-flowing, exactly as is the dancing. Likewise, it differs from a drum circle in that the drummers are arranged in a wide-angle V formation, facing the room, and the intention is to engage in playful exchange with the dancers and not just with one another.

          Drum & Dance still happens about 8 times per year, in various locations around the Pioneer Valley. Lacking the need for a sound system, in the warmer months, we drum and dance outdoors. In 2017, Dance Spree held Drum & Dance in Northampton, Amherst, Montague, Chesterfield, and Granby, MA. In January, we will be holding the first ever Drum & Dance in Greenfield!


2017 Schedule

Friday, December 22 at First Churches
11 Center St Northampton (MAP)

Love the Cold, Light the Dark II


2018 Schedule

Friday, January 12 at The Episcopal Church of St. James & Andrew
14 Church St Greenfield (MAP)

Overcome, Overdance, Overdrum


more to come, just wait!

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          Drum & Dance is originally a West African cultural phenomenon that has its roots in Yoruba (rural Nigerian) and other ethnic groups in a relatively small geographic area. The basic principle was that there was no "listening" to music or "watching" dancers; you danced when there was music and you drummed where there were people; everyone, of course, joined in the singing.
          But Drum & Dance takes this a step further and relieves everyone of all professional responsibility. Just as we dance in freestyle fashion - with a partner or by yourself, or in groups; on the floor or in the air, slowly or at the speed of light; to your own heartbeat or in rhythms learned elsewhere - so here the music that we dance to is pick-up, freestyle, and pluralistic. What is more, at any moment, a dancer may choose - perhaps even for their first time - to leave the floor and begin to drum; likewise any drummer may stop, stand, and dance whenever they wish. The most ambitious among us may even attempt to fly through the space with a drum between our legs or a shaker in each hand.
          There are no musicians at Drum & Dance, and there are no performers. Ultimately there are not even truly drummers or dancers, but rather a motley collection of human brethren who silently, intuitively, organize themselves as they see fit in that moment. Nowhere in the music or dance world is there a greater equality than under these conditions - of men and women, of the many races, of historically conquered and descendants of conquerors, of musicians and musicheads, of dancers and theatre geeks - and, most importantly, of adults and children.
          Being nothing at all but simply human is a condition with which we are born, lose immediately, and then spend the rest of our lives desperately trying to achieve, usually without success. Rest, human. Your search is done. You are home.


What to bring to a Drum & Dance gathering

The most valuable thing you can bring is yourself, your friends, and your family.

Bring your children. Drum & Dance is a safe, loving community space that welcomes all ages.
(I just realized how much it frustrates me that I felt compelled to add this, but I figure we'll get more kids if I leave it in and add this disclosure).

Bring drums, shakers, and anything else that makes noise.

Bring beautiful bodies and beautiful freestyle dance moves.

Bring beautiful voices and beautiful songs.

Bring cake, cookies, chocolate, and fruit for us all to share!

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Previous Drum & Dance gatherings at Dance Spree

September 23: Drum & Dance Northampton's one year anniversary
Food, vendors, henna, & massage
Djundjun workshop by Ult Mundane
Drum & Dance
Free overnight camping

August 4: Outdoors on the Common, Volume II: August Loud
Public Drum & Dance

July 29: A Midsummer Night's Drum
School of Sophia Harvest/Lugnasadh ritual
Potluck feast
Drum & Dance

July 7: Outdoors on the Common, Volume I
Potluck on the Common
Public Drum & Dance

June 16-17-18: The Drum at the End of the Rainbow
Friday night Drum & Dance Fire Circle with end of spring ritual
Indoor & outdoor camping, lakefront
Meals, workshops, & community meeting
Saturday night Drum & Dance Fire Circle with beginning of summer ritual
Sunday morning Contact Improv Jam & Percussion Bonanza

March 31: Imperfect, Holy, Holey, and Whole
Spring Fever ritual
The Ecstasy of Lights
Drum and Dance
DJ Marek

January 13: We Shall Overcome Ourselves
4th Annual Martin Luther King Alternative Winter Holiday Celebration
Drum and Dance
Bioluminosity with Bonnie Fire Urchin


December 23: Love the Cold - Light the Dark
Drum and Dance
Solstice celebration led by Rakia
Drum and Dance
Kirtan boogie with DJ Prakash

September 23: Drum & Dance Returns
Omnivorous potluck
Drum skills workshop by Aidan Talbot
Drum and Dance
Infusion Dance with DJ Nikos