I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I spent St. Patrick’s Day at the Festival my folk dance group produces every year. Most years, I dance. This year I couldn’t (I’m having hip surgery in a few months), so I brought my camera and took almost 500 pictures and videos of the festivities.
Dancers came to the festival not just from the Phoenix metropolitan area, but also from Tucson. Many come dressed in authentic ethnic costumes, or ethnic-y fashions.
You may notice that many of the dancers are in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Dancing on a regular basis is excellent exercise, especially for your brain. If you want a long, healthy life, dancing can help you.
But that doesn’t mean that children aren’t welcome. In fact, passing on folk dance knowledge is one of the reasons why the Phoenix International Folk Dancers exist.
Officially, the program consisted of 40 dances from all over the world (with two breaks featuring entertainment provided by the Tucson Folk Dancers and the St. Nikola folklore groups), but requests were also taken. Everyone is encouraged to try the dances, even if they are in the earliest stages of learning the choreography. Sometimes learners dance behind more experienced dancers to see the steps more clearly. In the pictures, some dancers are watching others’ feet, their serious faces revealing their concentration.
There are folk dance groups all over the United States. If you Google “Folk Dancing near…” and plug in any city or town, you will probably find at least one. In fact, some of the people who show up at our regular Tuesday night dances (6:30 – 9:30 PM at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix) are out-of-towners who are in Phoenix for work or vacation.
Many of our dancers attend folk dance camps, cruises, and folk tours, as well as workshops with nationally known teachers. (Phoenix International Folk Dancers also host workshops; check our website frequently and like our Facebook page.)
Mostly, the annual festival is an excuse to get together with dancing friends and spend four-and-a-half hours having fun.
Here are the dancers in action:
Now it’s your turn. Do you dance regularly? What kind of dancing do you like to do? Share in the comments below.