About the Organization
The Williamsburg Heritage Dancers is a community-based club welcoming dancers of all ages and experience levels – there is no need to sign up in advance and no long-term commitment. On a typical Tuesday, anywhere from ten to forty or more dancers, including beginners, ranging in age from 6 to 86, can be found dancing at Newport House.
We are proudly affiliated with the Country Dance and Song Society, which has coordinated English Country Dance for North America since 1915. (The Society also supports contra dancing, traditional square dancing, ritual dancing, early music, and singing.)
The Williamsburg Heritage Dancers were established in the early 1970s by Leland (“Lee”) and Gail Ticknor, in anticipation of the upcoming Bicentennial of American Independence. They wanted to teach people in the Williamsburg area some of the dances that were popular on the eve of the Revolution (which today fall into the genre of English Country Dance). The Ticknors made special alterations to their house on Indian Springs Road in Williamsburg to accommodate dance classes on Tuesday evenings. They also instituted an annual “George Washington Ball” and invited leading English Country Dance teachers from around the country to instruct January workshops. The Ticknors, who were exceptionally generous with their time and expertise, also assisted several other groups in establishing English Country Dance clubs, including communities in Norfolk, Richmond, Staunton, and Louisa, Virginia, as well as in North Carolina.
When the Ticknors retired and moved to Staunton in 1988, the Williamsburg Heritage Dancers moved their weekly Tuesday evening dances to the ballroom at Newport House, a bed & breakfast owned and operated by dancers John and Cathy Millar, who have generously opened their home to us. The post of “Dance Master” was assumed by Louis Vosteen, who, like the Ticknors, has been an enormous asset to the club, giving of his time, talent, and expertise for over 20 years. In the wake of his retirement from regular instructing, a “calling corps” has developed, with nearly half a dozen dancers providing leadership on a regular basis.
We are also proud of our support of the development of English Country Dance, with a number of talented dance choreographers working or having worked in our community, including the Ticknors, the Millars, Lou Vosteen, and Jenna Simpson.