Category Archives: Dance

I’d Rather be Dancing Russian Folk Dances

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Who doesn’t love the mournful tones of Russian folk music? And who can sit still while the music is playing? Here are ten Russian dances that are among the Phoenix International Folk Dancers repertoire.

Devichya Khorovodnaya:

Katje:

Sasha is often taught to children. You have to know a few words of Russian. Sasha is a nickname for Alexander or Alexandra. Ras, dva, tri is one, two, three. Da svidaniya is goodbye.

Lugovon’ka:

Korobushka:

Troika is a dance that requires a lot of energy. The word means three and refers to a team of three horses pulling a sleigh:

Zimushka:

Dorozhka is based on Cossack dance steps and is very challenging:

Ya da kalinushku lomala:

Bielolitza Kruglolitza can tie you up in knots:

I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances, Part II

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances, Part II

Two months ago, I posted an article on Irish Folk Dances. After it went live, I thought, oh, man, I could have saved this for St. Patrick’s Day. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. I invite you to click on the link, because that article has all my favorite Irish folk dances on it.

On the bright side, because St. Paddy’s Day is best celebrated by going to a ceili (Irish social dance), I scoured the internet to find some more Irish dances, all new to me. And they are just delightful.

High Caul Cap. This is danced in squares, each square formed by four couples. For the last repetition in this video, two squares join together and dance in a circle. As a social dance it looks like this:

As a step dance, the feet are lifted higher, like this:

Siamse Bierte.

Seige of Ennis:

Harvest Time Jig:

Antrim Reel:

Irish Lilt:

Rakes of Mallow is often taught to elementary school students. (I am jealous of this well-instrumented music room.)

Creative Juice #232

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Creative Juice #232

Beautiful things to look at. Creative solutions. Interesting journeys. And a possible assignment for you.

  • Free quilt block of the month patterns.
  • Awesome journal pages.
  • These abandoned buildings break my heart.
  • Artwork doesn’t have to be large to be impactful.
  • Searching for happiness in a book.
  • How one college is addressing systemic inequality in its curriculum.
  • Maybe more than you ever wanted to know about folk dancing’s fascinating history as a social movement. Keep scrolling down–there are a bunch of cool dance videos.
  • An artist’s watercolor journey.
  • Beautiful photography on this Instagram account.
  • It’s interesting to watch this sketch artist’s process.
  • When I was in college, I had a roommate who decorated envelopes. When I transferred to a different school, I was the recipient of letters from her in those beautiful envelopes. Who can you think of who would be blessed by a handwritten letter in a hand-decorated envelope? Maybe you could do that this weekend. . .
  • A photographer discusses a favorite photo.

Video of the Week #295: James Brown does his signature splits

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African-American Dancers

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There have been many great African-American dancers; I am just scratching the surface here, just mentioning the ones who most captured my attention.

Throughout my childhood, Sammy Davis, Jr. was frequently on television. As a member of the Rat Pack, he was a frequent guest on variety shows, specials, and late night talk shows.

Alvin Ailey was one of the most famous choreographers of modern dance. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and its school express the African-American experience through dance. Here is vintage footage of one of his pieces.

Gregory and Maurice Hines grew up performing tap dance routines together in night clubs. Then they danced together in Broadway musicals, and eventually in movies such as The Cotton Club and Eubie. A generation of children remember them from appearances on Sesame Street. When Gregory passed away in 2003, Maurice continued to perform. Here he talks about their partnership:

Nobody danced like Michael Jackson (though everybody tried). I could have done without the crotch-grabbing, but I admire his precision of movement. And the magic of the moonwalk. And can anyone forget “Thriller”?

Misty Copeland has the distinction of being the first African-American principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater. The video that follows is a clip from a documentary about her life.

Monday Morning Wisdom #297

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances

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I’d Rather Be Dancing Irish Folk Dances

If you’d told me last March that we wouldn’t be getting together to dance for more than ten months, I would probably have dug myself a hole and thrown myself into it. Here’s hoping, no, praying that a combination of masks, social distancing, and vaccination will help stop the spread of Covid-19 so we can begin to gather again soon. I’m forgetting every dance I used to know.

The Irish have some of the most beautiful folk dances. One that I love is actually a Texas line dance based on some Irish moves. Our Phoenix International Folk Dancers use an adaptation choreographed 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 last year as we were preparing for our annual Folk Dance Festival, which, sadly, didn’t happen, because, Covid. Sorry for the poor quality of the music—I didn’t realize I was holding my hand over the camera’s microphone while filming. Live and learn. Pot O’ Gold:

This is a beautiful performance by dancers who really know Irish dancing. See how erect they keep their bodies, and how their hands are mostly straight down. Sweets of May:

I’m used to doing Haste to the Wedding like this:

But I’m intrigued with this version of Haste to the Wedding danced by the Riverdance folks:

When I taught elementary general music, we had an Irish music unit in fifth (I think) grade, and I taught the kids this dance, Bridge of Athlone:

Those are all the Irish dances I personally know. But there are many more. Here’s An Rince Mor:

And here, the same music is used for Walls of Limerick. (Any jig or reel will do for most Irish dances):

Stack of Barley:

Haymaker’s Jig:

The Irish Washerwoman:

And who doesn’t love Irish step dancing—no music required:

Creative Juice #221

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Creative Juice #221

Only one more week till Christmas.

I’d Rather Be Dancing English Folk Dances

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England has many beautiful dances that date from as far back as medieval times. I was fortunate to be able to find videos of lovely performances, many by dancers in costume, on Andrew Carnie’s dance blog, Folk Dance Musings, a wonderful resource for international folk dancers which also contains detailed instructions for hundreds of dances.

Black Nag:

Haste to the Wedding. There are many versions of this dance throughout the British Isles. This one is English/American:

Hole in the Wall:

Wood Duck:

Sellinger’s Round:

Picking Up Sticks. Lots of intricate changing of positions in this one:

Margaret’s Waltz is in waltz time, but isn’t like an Austrian waltz:

St. Bernard’s Waltz came to England by way of Scotland. It is a more typical waltz, done in the round:

Dorset Reel. I don’t know why anyone would dance in the snow. I found another video where they did this dance on a beach, and I can’t think that would be any easier. And, apparently, it is customary to wear jingle bells while dancing this:

Cumberland Square Eight:

I’d Rather Be Dancing Danish Folk Dances

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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: