Richard Stefan Schmidt began his dancing career in 1966 when he joined the children's group of the Podhale Folk Dance Company, in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He soon became the principal dancer and complimented his artistic talents with music lessons enabling him to interpret the measures and rhythms with ease.
In 1980, at the age of eighteen, he took on the role as assistant choreographer and began learning the intricacies of teaching folk dancing, which he has been doing ever since. He complimented his studies by travelling extensively to Poland to study under many of that country's specialists. He continued to dance and participate in numerous festivals and competitions in North America and Europe. As his reputation grew, this trilingual speaking (English, French, and Polish) instructor was soon being invited to teach and choreograph for numerous folk ensembles in Canada and the United States, as well as at international dance camps.
His ability to teach the basic steps in detail and his extensive knowledge of Poland's regional and national dances, along with his innate vision for building authentic compositions, led him to take over the reins as Artistic Director of Podhale (1991-2007). During his tenure as director, the company expanded its repertoire and has been seen by millions of people through their performances in full-length concerts across Europe and North America, including Disney World in Florida and International Folk Festivals in Ste-Marie de Beauce, Drummondville, and Zacatecas (Mexico). The company has also made numerous television appearances and performed in made-for-TV mini-series "Le Pollock" (CBC-Radio Canada).
He has taught at several folk dance camps, including Florida Folk Dance Camp, New Mexico Folk Dance Camp, Stockton Folk Dance Camp, and Montréal's International Dance Camp.
In 2000, Richard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Republic of Poland for his outstanding contribution to Poland's heritage.
In 2008, Richard became the founder and director of "White Eagle" Folk Dance Academy in Montréal as well as the artistic director and choreographer of Tatry Polish Folk Ensemble in Oshawa, Ontario.
In 2010, Richard began work with the world-renowned Lechowia Polish Dance Company of Mississauga, Ontario. With over 300 dancers, the ensemble is by far one of Canada's largest and strongest representatives of Polish and Canadian culture. He has also found time to work with the ensembles Karolinka in London, England; Łowiczanie in San Francisco; Les Pieds Légers de Laval in Québec; and Pomorze in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Richard conducts occasional tours to Poland, including a tour with Jim Gold.
He has taught at numerous folk dance camps, including Florida, Montréal, New Mexico, Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Ontario Folk Dance Camp, and Salt Spring Island Folk Dance Festival.
In addition to maintaining his role as resident choreographer for Podhale, Richard has continued his work with many cultural communities in Ontario and Québec and also begun a new semi-professional dance company.
Richard lives in Montréal.
Dances Richard has taught include Beskid dances and songs for children, Bogatym from Spisz, Czardasz ŚlĆski, Cięta Polka from Lachy Sûcz, Circle Polka, Fafur from Kurpie, Góralski ze Stoktonu, Jacok from Krosno, Kaczor from Kurpie, Klapok from Łowicz, Kujawiak, Kujawiak for Two, Kujony from Łowicz, Lublin Waltz (non-couple), Mazur Royale, Monopolka from Lwów, Moody Kujawiak, Musi być bogaty Góralski, Oberek od Opoczna, Osa i Mach from Lublin, Polka-Mazur from Opoczno (Tramblanka), Polka na Plecy from Podgórzie Jasielskie, Polka z Nogi from Lachy Sącz, Polonez Royale, Rysiek Fafur, Rysiek Krakowiak, Rysiek Kujawiak, Sarna from Żywiec, Stockton Góralski, Szot z Cieszyn, Szpacyr Polka from Śląsk, Sztajerek from Lwów, Taniec Wielki, Warszawianka (Progressive), and Warszawianka from Lachy Sącz.