Washington Revels Blog

Washington Revels stages celebrations filled with traditional music, dance, stories and drama from around the world, revolving around the cycle of the seasons and the joys of community connections. Revels is for anyone who wants to share common ground through old and new traditions—connecting people across time and cultures. Revels is not something that you just watch—it is an experience.

While much of Revels takes place on a stage through song and dance, here on our blog members of our community attempt to capture the magic of Revels in words. We hope you take joy in reading these posts and that you will join us to make your own Revels memories soon!

Latest Posts

  • Caper Like a Wild Morisco: Morris Dancing and Revels
    Caper Like a Wild Morisco: Morris Dancing and Revels
    October 12, 2018 by
    A guest post by Jim Voorhees, Morris Dancer
    Jack Langstaff and Mary Swope walked toward us across the National Mall. It was a beautiful, sunny Spring day in 1983. The Foggy Bottom Morris Men were dancing in front of the Castle, near the carousel. Jack and Mary watched carefully. We talked. They needed a Morris team for a show they were doing in Lisner Auditorium that December. Would we be interested? Jack and Mary saw us do dances from villages in the Cotswolds, near Oxford. Like most Cotswolds teams, we wore bells, waved handkerchiefs, and clashed sticks....
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  • Revisiting an Article by Mary Swope
    Revisiting an Article by Mary Swope
    September 27, 2018 by
    Posted by Washington Revels
    For October's Directors' Blog installment, we're winding back the clock to 1997 for this article by founder and former Producer Mary Swope, all about that year's medieval Christmas Revels. While much has changed in the intervening 21 years, many important elements remain the same — not just the people involved, but also the spirit behind this joyous production that continues to resonate with Washington audiences years later. Enjoy this look back, as we continue to move forward towards this year's Elizabethan Revels!...
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  • Maritime Voices at the C&O Canal
    Ten Years of Maritime Music
    August 29, 2018 by
    A post by Mike Matheson, Director, Maritime Voices
    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Washington Revels Maritime Voices. During that time the group has performed a repertoire of more than 80 songs on more than 70 occasions in more than 30 venues in the Washington and Baltimore areas. Why has maritime music been such a success for the Revels? First of all, this region has a strong maritime tradition, dating back to the 18th Century. The Port of Baltimore has long been a major center of maritime commerce, the Chesapeake a thriving fishing community, Washington the headquarters of the U.S. Navy, and the C&O Canal a channel of commerce to the ports of Alexandria and Georgetown. Major naval battles have been fought up and down the Chesapeake. All of this has produced a rich and varied tradition of maritime and canal music, which we have been very happy to draw upon, and one which has a natural appeal to audiences in this area....
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  • We’ll Take That to Go: Parades, Processions and Connecting with the Broader Community
    We’ll Take That to Go: Parades, Processions and Connecting with the Broader Community
    August 8, 2018 by
    Posted by Washington Revels
    So a dragon, a hobby horse, and a jester walk into Takoma Park… It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it becomes reality each 4th of July when Washington Revels steps out and sings out at the Takoma Park Independence Day Parade. Whether the temperatures are in the 70s (this year) or inching towards the 100-degree mark (2012), several dozen revelers of all ages can be relied upon to sing, play, and march their way through a community institution, and share a few centuries-old traditions in the process....
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  • Autumn is for Families
    Autumn is for Families
    August 3, 2018 by
    Posted by Washington Revels
    A group of four- and five-year olds are marching down the hallway, waving ribbon sticks and singing an old traditional tune about apples. A dragon is resting on a nearby table while a volunteer sews one of its ears. Six teens are heading upstairs to rehearse with bells tied around their ankles, adding whimsy and celebration to the already joyful scene. And in a nearby park, a group of volunteers is leafing through a songbook choosing songs to share at the evening’s...
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  • Making the Sausage: just what goes into a Christmas Revels?
    Making the Sausage: just what goes into a Christmas Revels?
    August 1, 2018 by
    A post by Colin K. Bills, Production Manager
    The title of this post could easily refer to a prop we’ve got in mind for this year’s production. Indeed, our selection of fake meats — from the Boar’s Head that will once again make an appearance in 2018 to the côtelette de veau bien rôtie sans os produced last year as one of our foods in les Parties de Grégoire — is mouthwateringly delectable. That is, unless one is a vegetarian or allergic to painted Styrofoam. However, the sausage here is of the metaphoric sort. Those who have been on or backstage in a Christmas Revels can surely appreciate the time, effort, sweat (and alas, sometimes tears) that are required of the hundreds of folks who contribute to this epic performance. And while effort is surely required, time is our most valuable commodity. Members of the chorus know that auditions for Christmas occur in late May. That’s nearly seven months before the show! That should be enough time to put this thing together, right?...
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  • Freedom and the Fourth of July
    Freedom and the Fourth of July
    June 28, 2018 by
    A post by Andrea Jones Blackford, Director, Jubilee Voices & Co-Director, Heritage Voices
    On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered an address at an event in Rochester, New York commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Douglass’ words reveal the reality that the Founding Fathers’ vision of freedom in the Declaration of Independence did not include enslaved people, who were considered then property or livestock. His speech included the sights, sounds and stories of the enslaved, and of his own experience under slavery, underscoring the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while benefiting from “cargoes of human flesh.” His words were a warning to the young republic — then 76 years old — to reconsider this paradox....
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  • A July 4th Welcome for Syrian Refugees
    A July 4th Welcome for Syrian Refugees
    June 21, 2018 by
    Posted by Washington Revels
    The Fourth of July is a special holiday for Washington Revels. It’s a chance for Revelers from across our community to spread the joy of shared music, dance, and play with our largest single audience: parade spectators! Even more wonderful for us, these onlookers are our Takoma Park neighbors, who turn out each year to cheer on the many great community groups that participate in the historic Takoma Park Independence Day Parade (129 years and counting)....
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  • Washington Revels Kids
    The Next 35
    June 1, 2018 by
    A post by Patti Knapp, Business & Development Director
    Hello Friends: I write today grateful for the progress our Washington Revels community has made and humbled by the road that lies ahead of us. Since I arrived in August of 2016, the warmth of your welcome and your willingness to lend your talents to new fundraising endeavors has overwhelmed me. With your help we have strengthened Revels’ financial foundation and nurtured the vibrant circle of volunteers, donors, performers, teachers, and learners that make my work worth pursuing....
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  • Gallery Voices at FONA (photo by Diane Kresh)
    May Day! May Day! — How Will You Celebrate?
    April 30, 2018 by
    A post by Elizabeth Fulford, Music Director
    How will you celebrate May Day?  Washington Revels Gallery Voices got an early start this past weekend at the National Arboretum with madrigals, maypole dancing and lots and lots of beautiful plants and flowers.  We sang about sport and play, branches of May, country life, and many other Spring and Summer themes.  Dressed in May "whites" with colorful sashes and flowery wreathes, it began to feel like warm and sunny weather is finally here to stay!...
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Washington Revels, Inc.
531 Dale Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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301-587-3835 (voice)
888-587-9050 (fax)

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