Category Archives: Dance

I’d Rather Be Dancing Danish Folk Dances

Standard

Today we go to Denmark in Scandinavia for our folk dances.

This Danish dance is one that is commonly used in the primary school classroom. My students loved it—lots of laughing. You’ll see why. Seven Jumps:

Bitte Mand i Knibe (Little Man in a Fix) has some interesting configurations:

Familie Sekstur (Family Circle) is a courtly dance that includes a grand right and left:

Masquerade starts out sedately, but the meter keeps changing, and soon there’s lively foot stomping:

Hornfiffen (Hornpipe) is a sailor’s dance:

In Sønderhoning, couples alternate between a promenade and a turning figure:

Totur is another mixer that uses the grand right and left. You also get to yell “Hey!”

I’m not sure if Jyllinge is the name of this dance or the place the video was filmed, but here is a nice student performance:

OctPoWriMo Day 17

Standard

Today’s prompt is dancing under the stars.

Dancing with the dog
 
the dog wants out
and I dance around the pool
weighed down with an extra 10 pounds
the result of staying at home
it used to be I’d dance for three hours every Tuesday night
now we don’t gather
so I’m limited to a few minutes under the stars
and music only I can hear
I sway right and left
touch heel and toe
one foot crosses over the other
and my fingers snap in rhythm
slowly I make my way around the pool
then slip into the backdoor
the dog prancing in behind me

©ARHuelsenbeck

I’d Rather Be Dancing Latin Dances

Standard

Back in the 1970s, I lived and taught in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, which had a large Puerto Rican community. Salsa dancing was all the rage. One of the teachers in our district taught a salsa class in the adult continuing education program, so of course I had to learn.

If you’d like to learn the basic salsa moves, watch this:

A few years ago, I used to do the Zumba classes at the gym, and a lot of the moves were taken from the merengue, a dance from the Dominican Republic.

Here’s how to do the basic merengue step:

Cumbia originated in Colombia with the African slaves during the Spanish colonialization. Watch the machetes.

Our Phoenix International Folk Dancers do a version called cumbia semana, choreographed by the American Ira Weisburd (well, we’re not doing it now, because we haven’t resumed gathering yet):

Paso doble actually came from France, but it is inspired by the bullfighters of Spain and Portugal, with maybe a touch of flamenco. Generally, it’s only seen in dance competitions.

Here’s more explanation about paso doble:

The tango from Argentina is characterized by leg extensions and can include intertwining of legs and deep dips. I’m showing you a G-rated version:

Without a doubt, Latin dances are among the most sensuous in the world.

Creative Juice #211

Standard
Creative Juice #211

Lots of interesting stuff, and a bit of beauty, too.

I’d Rather Be Dancing Croatian Folk Dances

Standard

I am embarrassed to admit that I needed to look up Croatia to find out where it is. It lies along the eastern edge of the Adriatic Sea; Italy lies on the western bank. People my age might remember Yugoslavia; Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia.

The only Croatian dance I know is Moja Diridika:

I take it back. I also know Prosijala Sjajna Mjesecina, but I didn’t know the name and I didn’t know it’s Croatian. Such a calm dance:

Zeno is a lovely, easy dance with two sequences that alternate:

Vesela Je Sokadija allows you to do some foot stomping:

Sukacko Kolo is generally done in a circle; in this video, some couples are also dancing:

Rokoko Kolo was danced by Croatians who lived in Serbia. Andrew Carnie says they wore boots with spurs which made a satisfying rhythmic accompaniment (no spurs in the video, though; rats!):

Opsaj Diri. This appears to be an old video. I like that the ladies are singing as they dance:

Nabrala Je. This is an especially nice performance:

Licko Kolo is a “silent” dance, called that because no musical instruments play. The leader, however, sings the first few words of the song as a solo, and then the others join in 2-part harmony. In between repetitions of the song, the dance continues for four beats in silence. (There are many different versions of this dance, done to different tunes):

Kwadrilja is based on the Quadrille, borrowed from the French, who occupied the Dalmatian area of Croatia in the early 1800s. (You might want to go fullscreen for this video; click on the broken square in the lower right hand corner of the frame):

Do you agree that Croatia has a lovely and varied dance culture? I’d love to learn more Croatian dances.

I’d Rather be Dancing Austrian Folk Dances

Standard
I’d Rather be Dancing Austrian Folk Dances

 

Southeastern Germany (especially Bavaria) shares a cultural history with Austria, and some of these dances are done on either side of the border.

Amerseer is a Schuhplattler:

In the Austrian Dreisteyer, two women vie for the attention of each man:

Bauernmadl means “Farm Girl”:

There are many versions of Dirndl Mit’m Roten Miader, depending on which village you’re from:

Folk dancing is not for wimps, as you can see by this performance of Tiroler Holzhacker (Tyrolian Wood Chopper), another Schuhplattler:

Ishler Ländler:

Pinzgauer Boarischer:

Kalser Masolka:

A Muhlradl is a flour grinding wheel; the dance reflects its name:

Treffnertanz:

I’d Rather Be Dancing Scottish Folk Dances

Standard
I’d Rather Be Dancing Scottish Folk Dances

During this time of social distancing, our Phoenix International Folk Dancers have not been meeting. Our annual Folk Dance Festival, originally scheduled for March, was postponed indefinitely. I don’t know when our weekly dance venue will reopen.

But back when we were dancing, we did a few Scottish dances. One of our favorites is Domino 5.

Another Scottish dance in our repertoire is Road to the Isles. The handhold is all-important in this dance; it’s what makes the turn simple.

The rest of these dances are not familiar to me, but they are lovely.

1314 is a significant year in Scottish history; Robert the Bruce defeated the English invaders at the Battle of Bannockburn. The dance is characterized by a long, bouncing step, beautifully executed in this video.

St. Bernard’s Waltz has some graceful turns and a foot stamp feature:

Bonnie Anne reminds me of some of the Irish dances I’ve seen (think Riverdance) due to the erect stance, hands straight down, and pointed toes.

The Brittania Two-Step is done in formations of 3-person lines, going forward and backward, and the gent in the center turns his two partners under his arms.

In Catch the Wind, the head couple does most of the dancing.

In The Dashing White Sergeant, you get to change partners within your circle.

Eightsome Reel is a bit complicated. Dancers get a chance to improvise in the centers of their circles (macarena?). I see a recurring figure-eight pattern done by four dancers.

Some of the young people dancing this Military Two-Step kick very high; when senior citizens dance it, it’s slightly less athletic.

Video of the Week #244: Half a Minute of a Ballet Rehearsal

Standard

Cinderella’s Ball. Can you hear the clock ticking off the seconds to midnight?

I’d Rather be Dancing African Folk Dances

Standard
I’d Rather be Dancing African Folk Dances

At Phoenix International Folk Dancers, we only have two African dances in our repertoire. The first is Bela Kawe, a dance that originated from West African and Caribbean culture. The dance tells a story of two women who are having a friendly competition for a man’s attention. The first part of the dance represents the women trying to get the man’s attention, while the last part represents the warding off of any bad spirits that may be standing in the woman’s way. There are many different versions of Bele Kawe. This video is the closest to the way we dance it, but in our (Phyllis Weikert’s) choreography, the handwork is different; the women flourish their skirts, and the men place their hands on their own back pockets. They all clap on the fourth beat of each of the turns.

The other dance we do is Pata Pata, from South Africa. If you are as old as I am, you may remember when Miriam Makeba introduced the song and the dance in the mid 1960s.

Pata Pata means “touch, touch.” If you watch the backup dancers, at one point they pat various parts of their bodies. The version that PIFD does is decidedly less sensuous. Our version is often taught to school children, and it looks like this:

The only problem with the way we do Bele Kawe and Pata Pata is that they are white-people versions of African dances. What do African dances look like when they are danced by real African dancers?

Watch this performance by the Ama-Zebra Folk Dance Ensemble from South Africa:

African dances for the most part are vigorous and athletic. But some are graceful. Drums figure big in African dance music. Here are ten more dances:

The Tucson Folk Dance Club does an authentic Ghanaese dance, Pondogo:

Now it’s your turn. International folk dancers out there, does your group do any African dances? Do you have any African dances on YouTube? Please share in the comments below.

I’d Rather be Dancing Swedish Folk Dances

Standard

640px-Flag_of_Sweden.svgLovely Sweden has many beautiful folk dances. Here are just a few.

Familijevals provides lots of opportunities for flirting.

Even though the video says Norway, I think this dance is actually Swedish. Far Ja Lov might mean May I Have This Dance.

This dance has two names: Klapperstycket and Fyrtur från Luggude. It showcases many figures used in folk dancing and square dancing.

Fjäskern (Hurry Scurry) gets faster with each repetition. Also, you change partners every repetition.

Gustaf’s skål (Gustav’s toast) is named after King Gustaf III of Sweden. The dance is appropriately courtly.

Two dances are demonstrated in this video. The first, Hambo, is considered the national dance of Sweden. The second, Väva Vadmal (The Weaver’s Dance) imitates the action of a loom.

Johan På Snippen, a mixer:

Långdans från Sollerön:

Mazurka till Marilyn:

Oxdans (Bull Dance) can be danced by two men or by multiple men in pairs. There are many versions, but they all involve intimidation and “fighting.”

Västgötapolska: