Spring is here and it's popping up everywhere!
The weather of the Northern Hemisphere is enticing us to come out and play - even dance!
And what better time for a folk dance than now?
In fact around the world there are many folk dance festivals taking place. Here are a few that are happening here in the United States:
=Festival 2010 Kyklos International Folk Dancers in Portland Oregon.
= Salt Spring Island Folk Dance Festival in B.C. Canada
= Arcata International Folk Dance Festival 2010 in Bayside, California
= Israel Folkdance Festival in Boston, Mass.
Historically, folk dance require little if any professional training. A social function activity, it is linked to traditional music or music based on traditional music.
Anyone remember those western folk dance segments in physical education classes? It was the only time our all-girl class interacted with the boys. We gathered together in the multi-purpose room and dosy-dood with boys to the tune of the Walbash Cannon Ball. We all blushed as we were swung or were swinging our partners around.
I think it's interesting that those country folk dances always paired us up, girl/boy. And, as much as I hated to admit it, it was fun at the same time it was corny.
What's interesting is that no one ever told us that country dances and ballroom dances originated from folk dances. Apparently, over time the folk dances became more specific and refined.
Would it have mattered to me as a 7th grader? Probably not.
Sometimes folk dance does make it to the stage for public performance purposes. But in that case it is choreographed for specific results. I'm thinking specifically of what you might see in a musical like OKLAHOMA.
People familiar with folk dancing can often determine what country a dance is from even if they have not seen that particular dance before. Some countries' dances have features that are unique to that country, although neighboring countries sometimes have similar features. For example, the German and Austrian schuhplattling dance consists of slapping the body and shoes in a fixed pattern, a feature that few other countries' dances have.
Folk dances sometimes evolved long before current political boundaries, so that certain dances are shared by several countries. For example, some Serbian, Bulgarian, and Croatian dances share the same or similar dances, and sometimes even use the same name and music for those dances.
I've noticed a resurgence lately of ethnic folk dance groups and classes at community centers and colleges. Mostly, though, its the older crowd who takes the time to attend. The dance is easy without being heavily aerobic. And because it's non-professional it's okay to mess up every now and then.
For the young teens who must still face a section of folk dance there are the now-common Greek, Israeli or Middle Eastern dances. Or maybe something from the Slavic region that didn't require any real one-to-one contact. All the students have to do is stand in a circle holding hands; managing all the while to keep their eyes on the ground just ahead of them.
Now that's my kind of dance!