Category Archives: Dance

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

I’d Rather Be Dancing Kosovan Folk Dances

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In the 4th century B.C., there existed a Kingdom of Dardania in southeastern Europe. In the 1st century B.C., it was annexed by the Roman Empire, and then by the Byzantine Empire. For centuries thereafter, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantines for its control. By the 13th century A.D., it was part of Serbia. Then the Ottoman Empire took over.

When the Ottomans were defeated in the Balkan Wars, Kosovo (as the Dardanian kingdom came to be called) was ceded to Serbia and Montenegro. Both those countries joined Yugoslavia after World War I.

During the latter part of the 20th century, conflicts arose between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serbian populations, resulting in war in 1998-1999. Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. It is surrounded by Serbia to the north and east, northern Macedonia to the southeast, Albania to the southwest, and Montenegro to the west. Its area is 4,203 square miles, with a population of approximately 1,800,000.

Because of its Balkan location, Kosovo shares aspects of its culture with its surrounding nations, including its folk dances.

Ajšino Oro is one that we dance at Phoenix International Folk Dancers:

Aškali Gajda is danced with a shoulder hold. The leader twirls a red cloth:

Kalač is an interesting dance in multiple meters. It starts out with men and women in segregated circles which eventually merge:

Karafili is similar to a Greek Syrtos:

Šilovačko Oro:

Ženska Šiptarska Igra was originally a women’s dance:

Vallja E Gjilanit reminds me of Aškali Gajda but with leg lifts. It appears to be a men’s dance. Many Kosovan dances are similar to this one:

Shota and Rugova:

There are bits of five dances in this video, and I don’t know their names. Comments on YouTube said a dance was Albanian, and the costumes Macedonian, but since they are bordering countries, it’s not surprising there would be some crossover. My guess is that this was filmed at a Kosovan festival. You’ll want to be sure to watch to the end–there’s an exciting sword dance:

Video of the Week #322: On the Spot Dance Party

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Italian Folk Dances

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The people of Italy are very musical and love to dance. Here are some beautiful dances from the Big Boot.

Chi Balla is one of the dances we do at Phoenix International Folk Dancers. It was choreographed by the American, Ira Weisburd:

I don’t know what this dance is; I found it on YouTube, and the notes say it was filmed in Tuscany:

Neapolitan Tarantella is the music (and dance) I most associate with Italy:

Mazurca di Sant’ Andieu:

Gatij Ed Goj is a dance attributed to Occitania/Italy. I didn’t know what Occitania is, so I looked it up. It’s a region in southern Europe where the language Occitan was the original language (an area that is made up mostly of current day southern France). I don’t understand how a dance could be Occitan and Italian; maybe the music is from Occitania. It is lovely music, though, and a lovely dance:

Il Cantico delle creature:

Passu Torrau is a simple dance, and there are many different versions:

Graziella Mazurca:

Bomba Latina is a line dance choreographed by Italian Joey di Stefano, shown leading the dance, based on Latin steps:

Tarantella Montevergine is one more Italian tarantella, beautifully danced by the Tucson International Folk Dancers at the Phoenix Folk Dance Festival in 2017:

I’d Rather Be Dancing Breton Folk Dances

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Brittany is the large peninsula of the northwesternmost corner of France. The Bretons have their own dialects which are used in addition to the official French language. They also have beautiful folk dances.

Hanter Dro is a very simple dance, suitable for warm-up:

Avant deux de Touches:

Bal de Jugon is a couple dance in two patterns:

Gilgoden is a circle mixer in two patterns:

Jabadao is a vigorous dance. The signs on the backs of the dancers in this video suggest to me that this might be a competition:

Kost Ar C’hoad:

Valse Écossaise, a waltz:

An Dro Retourné is a circle dance with two patterns. The first pattern has a pinkie handhold.

Bannielou Lambaol is a simple, two part dance that is often taught in elementary school in the US:

I love the music to Le Laridé a 8 temps:

Creative Juice #251

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Creative Juice #251

A lot of beauty in today’s articles, curated especially for you.

  • Do you like Irish step dancing?
  • If you read my post about the Sirens, you know I love to sleep.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe on the art of seeing. And lots of links, if you enjoy going down rabbit holes.
  • I may have included these father of the bride photos in a previous edition of Creative Juice. You know what? They’re so beautiful, you should see them again.
  • Beautiful fruit photography.
  • Read your children some books about kindness and talk about how to make a difference in the lives of the people around you.
  • I’d never heard of Sonny Curtis, even though I’m familiar with two of his most famous songs; but I love his daughter’s essay about him.
  • Would you believe there are 800 pairs of herons living in Amsterdam? Maybe because of the canals. . .
  • Ingenious and useful creations from toilet paper rolls.
  • A mom’s June sketchbook pages.
  • I love this Instagrammer’s ICAD cards.
  • How a quilter pieced a 60-piece block perfectly!

I’d Rather Be Dancing United States Folk Dances

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Some US folk dances are all-American; some steal borrow liberally from other countries. These are some of the US-originated dances we do with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers.

12th Street Rag is inspired by the Roaring Twenties. We do it with couples promenading around a large circle or oval.

Chi Balla was set to an Italian song by the American choreographer, Ira Weisburd. It is a mixer, meaning that each time the dancers finish the 8-measure pattern, they progress to a new partner:

It’s been a while since I’ve danced Cotton-Eyed Joe, and I’m not sure if this is the version we do:

Cumbia Semana is a dance with a Latin flavor choreographed by Ira Weisburd:

I know this dance by the name Mozart Hassapiko. Ira Weisburd and Eli Ronen choreographed it using dance steps from the Greek tradition.

This dance is called Hot Pretzels, maybe because of the way the couples’ arms look as they exchange positions:

Yolanda is danced to a Venezuelan song. Ira Weisburd teaches this dance, but it’s not clear to me whether he is the choreographer or not; one website attributes the choreography to Bea Montrose:

Virginia Reel is an old American barn dance:

Some remember Salty Dog Rag as being introduced in the 1950s by Ricky Holden; others say it goes back to the ragtime era circa 1911:

This video claims to be the official choreography for the Macarena, which is danced to a Spanish song but originated in the United States. I only knew the original set of movements, but I like these variations because they make the dance more interesting and fun:

Creative Juice #245

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Creative Juice #245

Today all my curated articles are from one of my favorite blogs, MyOBT (aka My One Beautiful Thing). Blogger Donna has a daily mission to share one beautiful thing. And she succeeds every day.

Enjoy these? Maybe you should follow MyOBT.

I’d Rather be Dancing Turkish Folk Dances

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The Turks love to dance, and they have beautiful music to dance to. Here are some Turkish folk dances that we do with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers.

I used to teach Ali Paşa to my fifth graders:

Kirmizi Biber (means hot pepper):

Kendime (kids hear “Candy Man”):

Ordu:

Turkish hora, a variation on the Israeli hora:

Turkish Kiss actually originated in Israel:

There are other Turkish dances that we do at PIFD, but I couldn’t find good quality videos of them; but here are some other Turkish dances that I’ve never done.

Tuvak:

I feel like our group has done a dance by the name of Şemmamê, but I don’t remember these steps. Apparently there are multiple variations. This is a Kurdish dance:

Arabim Fellahi (My Arabic Farmer) features stomping and a little shoulder shimmy:

Bariş Halay has some interesting jump bounces and knee circles: