Category Archives: Dance

I’d Rather Be Dancing Ukrainian Folk Dances

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Ukraine is on our hearts as the Ukrainians defend their country against Russian aggression.

Let’s celebrate their culture. Ukraine has a vibrant folk dance tradition.

Several of these videos were made when the Tucson International Folk Dancers performed at the 2019 Phoenix International Folk Dance Festival.

Bandura Kozachok. Bandura is a stringed instrument; Kozachok is a Cossack dance. It seems this dance is telling a story. A flirtation is attempted, and is not having the desired effect. But all’s well that ends well:

Donetskii Kozachok is a cute mixer:

Honei Viter  means “whirlwind”:

Hopak Trio is a dance usually done in couples, which has been adapted here for trios. This performance includes a couple of surprises:

Hutsulka means “girl from Hultsulshina”:

There are a number of variations of Khorovod, which is customarily a women’s dance. This one is a couples’ dance, usually done only at weddings:

Kolomeyka W Dwi Pari:

Kozachok Mixer:

Kozachok Trio:

Oj Maju Maju:

Oj na hori stoit khata (A house stands on the hill):

I found all of these wonderful dances on Folk Dance Musings. You can find the instructions there too.

Video of the Week #359: Advanced Dance Moves

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I’d Rather be Dancing Dutch Folk Dances

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The Netherlands (Holland) is known for windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, Rembrandt, and Delft tiles and porcelain. The Dutch also have a long history of folk dancing.

Baonopstekker is a dance we do at Phoenix International Folk Dancers, though we end the sequence a little differently. Instead of dropping hands and turning in place, we keep holding hands in the large circle and do eight quick sidesteps in line of direction before starting the sequence over again. We call it the pancake dance, because of the flattening of the circle that occurs during bars 9-12. But the lyrics of the song have to do with the bean harvest.

De Horlepiep is the Dutch version of the Sailors’ Hornpipe:

Gort Met Stroop means “grits with syrup.” Very cute dance:

Mazurka voor een Mus means “mazurka for a sparrow.” Kudos on the film editing:

Ronde has courtly 16th century styling:

Te Haerlem in den Houte means “in the woods of Haerlem.” The music is from the 17th century:

Zigeunerpolka means “gypsy polka.” The music is very familiar to me. My German parents may have had this on vinyl (or even shellac). It may have originated in northern Germany, but was also danced in the Netherlands.

Bellendans (bells dance) is done to the tune of Jingle Bells. I wish I’d known this dance when I was teaching music in the elementary school. This would have been a good activity for the last day before Winter Break.

M is for Moldova: I’d Rather be Dancing Moldovan Folk Dances

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Location of Moldova. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Unported License.

I had to look up where Moldova is. It’s that country colored red in the map above, in eastern Europe. That’s Romania on its west, and Ukraine wraps around its eastern side. It’s had a complicated history. For a time it was called Moldavia (or that was its English name, depending on what you read). Part of Moldova was included in the Soviet Republic for a time. Part of the territory traditionally known as Moldova is now within Romania’s borders. Some Moldovan people speak Hungarian.

Of course, I had to check out their folk dances. All the ones shown below are new to me except for the first one.

Mari Kiz is a dance we do at Phoenix International Folk Dancers. It consists of a 4-measure pattern danced in line of direction, and a variation danced into the center and out again:

Çekirgä, danced beautifully (though solemnly) by this group of children:

Hora de la Soroca:

Long Hora:

Ördög Útja (also known as Drumul Dracului):

Ostropat, a pretty couples dance:

Öves:

Sârba ca la Sud. I think there is more than one version of this dance; this is particularly spirited:

Video of the Week #352: F is for Folk Dancing

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Kurdish Folk Dances

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The Kurds are an Iranian ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan located in southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria. Their dances (at least the ones I found on YouTube) are characterized by line formation and joined hands (often pinkie holds). Dancers at the end of the lines typically twirl scarves. There is a sameness to the dances, though variations in steps, direction, arm movements, height of foot raises, bounces, shoulder involvement, and music. Sometimes heads turn in unison.

A men’s dance group:

Beautiful Kurdish costumes:

Kurdish dance from Iraq:

Women’s dance group:

I remember learning this dance at Phoenix International Folk Dancers: Şemmamê

Aliyo Dino Grani Halay. Being danced in the street in a multi-generational setting, this may be a wedding or a festival:

This dance is called either Tin Tin or Teen when danced to the song Tin Tin Tini Mini Hanem; it’s also known as (Hey) Ghuma Ghuma or (Hey) Khuma Khuma, after the original song it was danced to:

Oee Naze:

Zozan:

Creative Juice #275

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Creative Juice #275

Instead of getting bombed at some lame New Year’s Eve party, stay home and read these awesome articles! Something for everyone here.

I’d Rather Be Dancing Country Line Dances

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Back in the 1980s when we still lived in New Jersey, one night I went out to a country western bar with some girlfriends where they did country line dances. My memory is a little shady, but it seems to me we had a blast.

At Phoenix International Folk Dancers, we sometimes do line dances. Here are some we know:

Achy Breaky Heart:

Louisiana Saturday Night:

One of my favorites is Elvira, but I can’t find a single video on YouTube that uses the same choreography we use at PIFD.

Another dance we do differently than other groups is Pot o’ Gold. If you look it up on YouTube, you’ll probably see gals wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots doing it country style. We consider it an Irish-style dance, and we do a variation dreamed up by Sue Steiger of the Prescott (AZ) International Folk Dancers. You’ll see that around the 1:45 mark the dancers join hands in a circle to dance the final patterns. (We were bored with keeping it a line dance all the way through.) We made this video in February of 2020 as we were preparing for our annual Folk Dance Festival, which, sadly, didn’t happen because of Covid. Sorry for the poor sound quality—I didn’t realize I was holding my hand over the camera’s microphone while filming. Live and learn. 

And here are other country line dances that I don’t personally know but I found on line.

God Bless Texas:

Boot Scootin’ Boogie:

Git Up:

Cowboy Hustle (I’ve also seen a very similar dance to this done to the same music, called Cowgirl Twist):

Good Time:

Watermelon Crawl:

I’d Rather Be Dancing Central and South American Folk Dances

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Let’s get away from it all and go dancing south of the border!

La raspa is a popular dance from Mexico, often taught to children in the United States. When I was a little girl, I knew it as “The Mexican Hat Dance”:

Santa Rita is a couples dance from Mexico strongly influenced by the European polka. It originated in the state of Chihuahua and crossed the border into southern Texas:

Chilili is from Bolivia and Peru. We do this dance at Phoenix International Folk Dancers:

Carnevalito is an easy dance from Bolivia, a favorite of Orff instructors (elementary general music teachers will know what I’m talking about):

Fado Blanquito may have originated in Portugal; it is also danced in Brazil:

We have done Flor Amarosa from Brazil at Phoenix International Folk Dancers:

Agradacer y abraçar means “thank and embrace.” It’s an easy circle dance from Brazil:

Circular is a three-pattern dance from Brazil. The first pattern is a grapevine; the second is a samba; and the third is improvisation:

São como os meus, olhos teus is a sacred circle dance from Brazil:

Here are some dancers in Cartagena doing a traditional Colombian dance (I’m sorry—I don’t know the name, but I like the costumes and the drums):

OctPoWriMo2021 Day 13: West Side Story

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Today’s prompt is theater.

The_Shark_girls_extol_the_virtues_of_America
From the 2007 Portland Center Stage Production of West Side Story, “America.”
West Side Story 

somewhere in the wings
my son awaits his cue
his heartbeat audible to himself
out of sync with 
the latin music
the band plays

when he signed up for
the high school musical
he looked forward to acting
not knowing he’d be expected to dance

his partner’s full skirt rustles
as she wonders
will he lift me
will he drop me
or will fear so paralyze him
that I never leave the floor

the moment comes
adrenalin kicks in
he twirls the girl
and raises her to new heights
amazing even himself

after the show
his former middle school drama coaches
congratulate him on his performance
and he bursts into tears

©ARHuelsenbeck