James "Jim" LaVita is an independent scholar, performer, and choreographer based in Boulder, Colorado, who works primarily in traditional, ethnic, and vernacular dance as a dance ethnologist, teacher, and artistic consultant. He has studied, taught, lectured, and written about traditional dance, its social settings, and its improvisatory techniques.
He formed and directed Narodno Ethnic Music and Dance Ensemble. He has set choreographies on a number of folk ensembles, and has served on the boards of Westwind and Khadra ethnic dance ensembles in San Francisco.
Jim taught traditional and vernacular dancing nationally for more than two decades. He has given instruction and lecture demonstrations in traditional Scandinavian couple dancing at a large number of camps, weekends, and evenings from California to Wisconsin to Washington, DC. For many years he taught traditional dancing in the Denver Metro area. In Colorado, Jim also taught Dutch Hop, a locally popular polka variant.
Jim spent six summers in Norway and Sweden studying traditional couple dancing and was the recipient of a Norwegian Marshall Fund Grant to study at the Rådet for folkemusikk og folkedans in Trondheim, Norway. He has been a research associate in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses in a number of disciplines in the Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Science at the University of Denver.
As a dance ethnologist, Jim has a project involving the ethnography of the Scandinavian folk dance movement in the Denver area, and a project on popular dance life in an urban environment. He is currently working on a monograph about dance ethnology. He is the producer and moderator of the film and interview series "Lives Lived in Dance."
In another life Jim was a professional disk jockey. He co-emceed two popular folk and traditional music shows, Caravan and Musica Mundi, at public radio station KGNU, in Boulder, Colorado.
Jim has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin, and an MA in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dances Jimmy has taught include Bakmes i Polska från Klaralvsdalea, Bingsjö Polska, Dutch Hop, Göteborg Mazurka, Hambo Variants from Northern Sweden, Kringellek från Gagnef, Masurka från Göteborg, Realänder från Vemdalen, Schiottis från Södermanland, Senpolsa från Torp, Setesdal Gangar, Slängpolska från Gammalkils, Shottis från Sodermanland, Slängpolska från Dunker, Slängpolska från Gammalkils, Slängpolska från Klaralvsdalen, Stigvals i Bakmes från Kall, and Telenganger.