I’d Rather Be Dancing at the 33rd Annual Phoenix International Folk Dance Festival


The title of the festival is a little misleading, in that the 32nd Festival happened in 2019, so the 33rd Annual Festival should have happened in March of 2020, but, you know, Covid.

Now we’re operating as though we’re almost back to normal (even though in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, 1500 people are still testing positive for Covid every day, and 34 people died of Covid last week). Masks were optional at the festival, which finally took place last Saturday, November 12, 2022.

Nevertheless, it was the first time I’d gathered with our large group since before the pandemic, and it was great to see many old friends. People came down from Prescott and Flagstaff and up from Tucson and Oro Valley. One former member came all the way from Florida. A group of hosts brought a van-load of foreign exchange students from their temporary homes in Sierra Vista. There may have been others who traveled great distances.

At our festival, anyone who wants to dance is encouraged to do so. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been dancing all your life. You see many skills levels, and it’s beautiful.

The festival ran for four hours. I didn’t think I’d have the stamina for that long, but I stayed three and a half hours. I sat out some of the more vigorous dances and filmed them instead, so I have some videos to share.

From Romania, Sirba din Cimpoi:

From Bulgaria, Varnenski Kjuček:

From Bulgaria, Vlasko Horo:

A Greek/Roma dance, Chikulata Chikita:

From Israel, Adir Adiram:

A dance from the Roma people, Cine Are Noroc Are:

From Bulgaria, Vrapceto. The exchange students wanted to join in as well, but they got hung up on the basket weave handhold until some of the dancers noticed and helped out.

From Turkey, Kirmizi Biber:

Three quarters through the program, community dancing took a break as several members of the Tucson International Folk Dancers entertained us with American dances going back as far as the 1920s.

It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing:

Lambeth Walk:

Maple Leaf Rag:

Tennessee Wig Walk:

And everyone was up again and dancing together for one more American dance, Louisianna Saturday Night:

For the rest of the afternoon until my early departure, there were a string of dances I really wanted to dance, so I don’t have any more videos to share.

We all had a wonderful time. I hope I see you there next year. And if you wish you could do folk dances like these, google “international folk dancing near me.” There are dance groups all across the country. We often have visitors at our Tuesday night dances who just happen to be passing through Phoenix and were looking for someplace to dance.

You might have noticed that a lot of our dancers are senior citizens. Some are well over 80 years old. Dancing keeps you young. It’s good exercise for the body and the brain, and it’s fun.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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