Traditional squares, contras, community dances
Traditional squares, contras, English country, Celtic Ceili dances
Chris Kermiet is from the Denver area of Colorado and grew up with traditional dance. His father, Paul Kermiet, a long-time dance caller, and mother, Pauline Ritchie Kermeit, ran a summer folk dance camp, the Lighted Lantern, outside of Golden, Colorado, atop Lookout Mountain, from 1946 to 1976. This camp, whose assistant leaders were Fay and Drucila Ferree, was a mecca for folk dancers who came from all over the United States and Canada to spend a week dancing with some of the finest teachers in the country. Chris learned from all of them, and became intrigued with learning more about the Celtic dance traditions that influenced American squares and contras. He learned Scottish dance from Bruce McClure and C. Stewart Smith, Welsh from Vyts Beliajus, and English from May Gadd, and Genevieve Shimer.
Since the early 1970s, Chris has been teaching folk dancing. He has been in demand as a contra dance caller and teacher of traditional American community dances since 1975. Actively working to preserve these traditional dances, Chris is recognized as a national authority on traditional western squares. He also has created works for a number of performing and theater groups and is the spokesman for Denver's "Winter Soltice Show" held in December.
Chris prefers to work with a live band, and frequently calls for the weekly community dances sponsored by Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance (CFOOTMAD), of which he is a board member (his sister, Paula Kermiet Connolly, was one of the founders). Live music is part of the excitement of the event and also helps preserve the old-time fiddle tunes. Chris also calls for weddings, barn dances, street dances, and private parties, and is invited to perform at festivals and dance weekends throughout the United States and overseas.
In 2000, the Colorado Council on the Arts (CCA) recognized Chris with their "Heritage Award/Artist Fellowship" award for community dance and community dance calling. The award is presented in recognition of the artist's outstanding abilities and contributions to traditional arts and honors his expertise and his ability to maintain this traditional community participation in a contemporary urban environment. In in a story titled "Best Dance Caller" in June of 2000, Denver's Westword magazine wrote, "One thing about dance calling: You can't claim that people never listen to you. Chris Kermiet knows the down-home business better than most, and it's no wonder, considering his pedigree: His mother was a member of the singing Ritchie Family, and his father was a dance-caller before him, so you could almost say he was born with the old-time music and square steps in his bones. After more than thirty years of calling at traditional community dances throughout the region -- most often under the auspices of the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance -- Kermiet received a Colorado Council on the Arts Folk Arts fellowship award, deserved recognition for a guy who knows where to put your best foot forward."
In 2009 he was honored as a "Living Legend of Dance in Colorado" by the Carson-Brierly Dance Library at the University of Denver.
Chris leads a monthly English Country Dance as well as many of the Celtic Ceilis in the Denver, Colorado, area. Chris and Sharon have one daughter.
Among Chris's publications are:
- "Some Thoughts on Experienced Dancers." 1995.
- "Building a Dance Community." 1996.
- "Zany Contras and Other Stuff: For the Gourmet Dancer." Over 25 contras, mixers, and squares, mixed with recipes. Includes six dances with tunes and teaching tips (instruction included), 1995.
Dances that Chris has taught in the United States include Barlow's Knife, Beckett's Basket, Beckett's Crossing, Beckett's Reel, Chris Kermiet's Lemon-Dill Dressing, Denver Wagon Wheel, Duck the Possom and Turn His Hide, Follow the Skirt, Four Bachelor Boys, Gaspe Reel, John's Bygones, Gaspe Reel, Mad Teacups, Movin' at the Merc 2, Movin' at the Merc 3, Pope Mixer, Seismic Rehabilitation, Silly Sicilian Mixer, Snoring Old Woman, Solstice Contra 1995, Solstice Tempest, Turn the 4th, and Z Mixer.