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Richard Powers is one of the country's foremost experts in the history of early American and European social dance. This type of dance has been called "Vintage Dance" since 1980, when Richard coined the term. He has been researching and reconstructing historic social dances for more than twenty-five years.
His grandfather taught dance at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Richard's parents met at a swing dance, but his whole generation skipped couple dancing. He spent his undergraduate years at Purdue, where he earned a degree in engineering. At Stanford, he was a student in the early years of the product design program. He also was one of the first students to pursue an individually designed major. He graduated from Stanford in 1970 with a master's degree in design and creative process.
He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for a consulting firm and did freelance design work for other companies. He holds seven U.S. and international patents, including one for the spray-pump nozzle that screws onto bottles of window cleaner. While in Cincinnati, he founded an artists collective and studied calligraphy, then tai chi and kendo.
He taught at the School for Creative and Performing Arts at Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University, and Ohio University.
Richard became a full-time instructor at Stanford University's Dance Division, having joined the faculty in 1992. He was selected by the "Centennial Issue" of Stanford Magazine as one of Stanford University's most notable graduates of its first century and, in 1999, was given the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for distinctive and exceptional contributions to education. Richard directs the 70-member Stanford Vintage Dance Ensemble. He serves as the dance historian at Stanford University's Dance division and is the Stanford faculty liason to Friends of Dance at Stanford.
During a typical academic quarter at Stanford, Richard teaches "Social Dances of North America I and II" and the Vintage Dance Ensemble, which are part of the division's regular offerings. He also teaches three non-credit offerings sponsored by the Associated Students and three classes at the Palo Alto Women's Club, where the majority of students come from campus.
Richard is noted for founding historic dance groups, his choreography of dozens of stage productions and films, and for his workshops across the U.S., France, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. He also has led a Waltz Weekend workshop in northwest Georgia. He has taught at numerous dance camps throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. In California, he has taught at the Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Idyllwild Folk Dance Workshop, Laguna Institute, North-South Teacher's Seminar, and many other institutes both in Southern and Northern California.
In 1981, Richard founded the Flying Cloud Academy of Vintage Dance and a year later the Flying Cloud Troupe, a 30-member performing company. He also co-founded the supporting Fleeting Moments Waltz and Quickstep Orchestra. His other credits include training dancers for the 1989 film Glory and choreographing the ballroom dance scenes for ABC's North and South in 1985 and PBS' Mrs. Perkins' Ball in 1986.
Among Richard's publications are
Dances Richard has taught inlude 1914 Tango Argentino, 1928 Lindy Hop, 1950s Swing, Argentine Tango Waltz, Beale Street Blues, Bizourka, Bohemian National Polka, Bohemian Polonez, Boston Two-Step, Canon Polska Schottische, Charleston Madison, Chalypso, Collegiate Charleston, Cross-Step Waltz, Cross-Step Waltz Mixer, Flemish Mazurka, Fox Trot, Gypsy Polka Mixer, Hambo Mixer, Hesitation Waltz, Hot Chocolate, La Gitana, La Java, La Hungroise, Lingering Blues, Maxixe, Maxixe II, Metamora Waltz, Moonlight Waltz, Nineteenth Century Waltz, One-Step Tango, Parisian Cancan Quadrille, Parisian Tango, Paul Jones, Polka Mazurka, Ragtime Era One Step, Redowa, Rio Tango, Schottische Variations, Skater's Tango, Social Tango, Tango Mixer, The Big Apple, The Bus Stop, The Castle Schottische, The Electric Slide, The Hully Gully, The Line Dance Through Time, The Madison, The One Step, The Stroll, The Texas Tommy, The Triplet Galop Quadrille, The Viper Tango, Tokyo Polka, Veleta Waltz Mixer, Viennese Waltz, Victorian Waltz, Waltz Swing, and Zwiefacher.