Tag Archives: Folk Dancing

I’d Rather Be Dancing Romanian Folk Dances

I’d Rather Be Dancing Romanian Folk Dances

Ah, the beautiful dances of Romania! Gorgeous music, visually and rhythmically stunning!

One of the dances I often taught when I was an elementary general music teacher is the Romanian dance Alunelul. It matches the very distinctive rhythm of the music, and also fits well with the Christmas song Up on the Rooftop.

And a gypsy dance from Romania, Dana:

Hora De Mînă:

I know the video shows a different name, but this Romanian dance is generally known as Îni Viţui Nâ Featâ Moi:

This beautiful Romanian dance honors midwives. Joc De Leagăne, also known as “The Cradle Dance”:

Something more lively and upbeat–Made în România:


Get ready to swing your arms. Rustemul:

This is one of my favorite dances to lead. Beautiful music. Siriul:

In November, Lee Otterholt (well-known international folk dance teacher) came to Phoenix International Folk Dancers group and taught us some dances. I’ve been obsessed with La Bordeiul cel din Vale ever since. It was choreographed by Ira Weisburd, the man in black whom you see keying up the laptop and leading:

2018 in Review

2018 in Review

This time last year, I dreamed that ARHtistic License would grow from 350+ to 600 subscribers. As of this writing (Wednesday afternoon), we’re almost there. If you haven’t yet joined our subscribers and you like what you see on ARHtistic License, please help us out by hitting the “Follow” button on the sidebar. Thanks, and welcome to our artistic community!

My hope for 2019 is that ARHtistic License will pass the 1,000 follower mark. It would mean a lot to me if you’d help out by spreading the word, sharing your favorite articles on your social media.

Typing on laptop glenn-carstens-peters-203007

My Top Ten Posts of 2018 tabulated by number of views. Have you seen all of these?

  1. #DC350 Rimana Heart String—This post (and the next five) includes my entry to the Diva Challenge, a weekly Zentangle challenge. I don’t participate every week, but Zentangle devotees are a very generous group who encourage each other by visiting each other’s blogs, Instagram, Flicker, and Pinterest accounts.
  2. #DC379 Holidaze
  3. #DC364 Puf
  4. #DC360 Shattuck vs. Tripoli
  5. #DC362 Somnee
  6. #DC346 Phicops & Huggins
  7. 12 Best Quilting Blogs—in my opinion.
  8. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web—again, in my opinion. I’ve stumbled across some more fabulous ones since I published this list; I’ll have to update it eventually.
  9. NaPoWriMo Day 21—My poem for Day 21 of National Poetry Writing Month (April) was featured on the challenge’s official website the next day, sending lots of traffic to ARHtistic License. The downside: it was not one of my better poems for the month. I much prefer this one or pretty much any other poem I posted that month.
  10. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton—I wanted to write about Hawaiian quilts and had the good fortune to find a website that featured Gorelangton. I contacted her and asked if I could write about her work, and she generously consented to be interviewed via email and sent me images of her quilts to use in the article. Not only did my article get lots of views from quilters and people interested in the art of Hawaiian quilts, but Gorelangton is beloved in Hawaii, and her fans found the article, too.

But an article I wrote in 2016 got even more views this year than the Gorelangton interview. Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee received 543 views in 2018 and 870 views since it was published.


Other older articles that were heavily viewed in 2018:

2. Ballet Feet—what ballet dancers suffer for their art.

3. How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Dohnányi—If you’ve ever practiced these exercises, you know what I mean.

4. How to Make a Meme on a Mac—step by step instructions.

5. Yarn and Beads—about the art of the Huichol people of Mexico.

6. Escaping the Khmer Rouge: Review of Beautiful Hero by Jennifer H. Lau—This autobiographical book has won 5 awards.

7. Happy Anniversary!—wherein I celebrate the first three months of the existence of my blog.

8. Phoenix Art Museum—what my daughter Katie and I saw on a Mother’s Day excursion.

I also contribute guest posts to A Writer’s Path. Here are some of my top articles there:

1.     12 Worst Blogging Mistakes. 808 views.

2.     For Bloggers: How to Post Every Day. 543 views.

3.     20 Tools Every Writer Needs. 478 views.

4.     21 Inspirational Quotes for Writers. 416 views.

As I review my creative goals for 2018, I see that I didn’t completely achieve them, but I did make general progress.
I did a run-through of my God of Paradox manuscript with my bible study group, got some excellent feedback, and discovered some real problems that needed to be corrected. I’m almost finished with the rewrite. I’m going to see if my pastor or someone with a theology degree will read through it for me, then I’ll maybe do another rewrite if necessary, or a quick polishing, and start submitting in 2019.

The Unicornologist has been on the back burner, but never far from my thoughts. I’m hoping to solve all my plot problems and do a thorough final rewrite, then seek representation in 2019.


I’ve really stalled on recorder and guitar, hardly practicing at all in the last six months. I’ve been more faithful about piano.


I’ve written some poetry; if I can write and rewrite enough poems in the next couple of weeks, I might enter another chapbook in a contest.

I’ve made some artwork, illustrations and Zentangle. Here’s my New Year’s wish for you. Patterns used: poke leaf, fescu, chainlea, leaflet variation, brayd, herzlbee, cuke variation, verdigogh.Zentangle, hope


I had a hip replacement in July. For eight months before the surgery I suffered enough pain that I could not dance. (Heck, I could barely walk.) I am happy to say I am dancing once again and helping to teach dances in my international folk dance group.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you’d like to see more of on ARHtistic License. What art- and creativity-related topics would you like me to cover? Which artists, musicians, and composers would you like profiled? Which of my articles and features do you like best? Please share in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to ARHtistic License, to hit the “Like” button below, and to share your favorite article (find links to my most popular articles above) on all your social media. Thank you, and have a happy New Year!

Ethnic Costumes

Ethnic Costumes

One of my favorite aspects of folk dancing is seeing authentic folk costumes. Many folk dancers own costumes from their family heritage of from countries they’ve visited. Since I’m the offspring of German parents, I bought myself a dirndl from Germany. In the picture below, taken at the 2015 Phoenix Folk Dance Festival, I’m standing in the front row in the center wearing the mostly black dress. Others are wearing costumes from all over or contemporary United States casual attire.2015 Phoenix Folk Dance Festival

Many folk costumes from Europe feature colorful embroidery. An example of Ukranian clothing:


Queen Elisabeta of Romania. Notice that she is spinning wool with a drop spindle.

Queen Elisabeta of Romania

A Polish folk dance troupe:


Poland- by Felouch Kotek, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 800px-Mazowsze_2011

Photo by Felouch Kotek, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license


Macedonian females:

Macedonia- 640px-Women_from_Smilevo,_1913

Albanian men:

Albania- Fustanela_001

Serbian costumes:

Serbian folk dancers



A warrior costume from Indonesia:


Some of the above photographs I took myself, and others I found on Wikipedia. It’s hard to find lots of photos that don’t require a permissions process, but I do have a board of folk dance costumes on Pinterest, if you’d like to see more.

I’d Rather Be Dancing: Serbian Folk Dances

I’d Rather Be Dancing: Serbian Folk Dances

I am now twelve weeks post-hip-surgery, and I’m back dancing with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers! Hallelujah!

Some of our favorite dances come from Serbia. Here’s a lovely warm-up dance:

This one is calm and sedate:

Another favorite dance:

And another one:

The next few I’ve never done, but they look like fun:

This group of children has obviously been very well-trained. The first dance is Ersko Kolo; the second one is Kačerac. Beautiful performance, lovely form.

This lively number is performed by students at the Serbian Dance Academy. Note how the dancers hold on to each other’s belts.

Serbians really know how to party:

Do you agree that Serbian dances are wonderful?

If you’ll be in the Phoenix area in early November, come to Serb Fest at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 4436 E McKinley Street (near 44th St. and Loop 202). Saturday, Nov. 3 from 11 am – 10 pm; Sunday, Nov. 4 from 12 noon – 8 pm. Food, music and dancing, bouncy structures, church tours, and items for sale. Admission is only $4. My daughter and I attended last year and had a wonderful time.

I’d Rather Be Dancing: Misirlou


If you know Misirlou through popular culture, you may recognize it as the theme song of Pulp Fiction:

However, its true beginnings are a lot less violent.

In an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 15, 1980, Marcia Bennett wrote:

A professor of eurhythmics, the study of music through movement, Mrs. [Brunhilde] Dorsch [of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh] said she developed the misirlou dance with the help of a young pharmacy student who enrolled in her class in the mid-1940s.

The student was of Greek origin and attempted to demonstrate a folk dance called the kritikos without benefit of music.

“She told me there was no music for the original dance so I had to improvise,” Mrs. Dorsch says. The closest she could come to the tempo was an Arabian serenade called misirlou, meaning “love song.” The dance was modified by slowing the tempo and softening the motions, “and it took off,” she says.

The dance became popular with the university’s Tamburitzans who performed it around the world, including Greece. It seemed so at home on the Mediterranean peninsula that it was quickly adopted as the country’s own invention.

During a performance in 1962, guitarist Dick Dale accepted a bet from a young fan that he could not play a song on only one string of his guitar. Dale’s father and uncles were Lebanese-American musicians, and Dale remembered seeing his uncle play Misirlou on one string of the oud, a middle eastern instrument. He arranged Misirlou for one string of the guitar and increased the song’s tempo to turn it into a rock and roll piece. It was Dale’s “surf rock” version that introduced Misirlou to a wider audience in the United States. Misirlou was also recorded by the Beach Boys on the Surfing USA album, released in 1963.

I have a little bit of a connection with this story. My first three semesters of college starting in August 1970 were at Duquesne University. Music majors were required to take two years of eurhythmics to satisfy their physical education requirement. My teacher was Mrs. Dorsch, and folk dancing was part of her eurhythmics program. That was my first exposure to folk dancing.

Mrs. Dorsch was beloved for her annual Christmas party. She would instruct and call dances for us all night.

In addition to teaching at the university level, Mrs. Dorsch also taught Head Start and often commented that her preschool students were much better dancers than we were.

Mrs. Dorsch retired from Duquesne University in 1980 after 42 years of service.

Best Websites for Folk Dancers


If you’ve been reading ARHtistic License, you know I’m an avid folk dancer (though I’m out of commission right now, due to arthritis—hip replacement surgery coming up soon). Besides being fun, it’s excellent exercise, especially for the brain. Folk dancing celebrates culture and beauty. It also necessarily involves one of my other loves—music.

Serbian folk dancers

Because it’s one of my passions, I regularly scour the internet looking for dances, dance instructions, and folk costumes. Here are some of the best resources I’ve found:

  • Folk Dance Musings. Curated by Andrew Carnie, this is the #1 best resource I’ve found for dance videos and dance instructions. The alphabetical list includes hundreds of dances from countries all over the world. Carnie embeds videos and gives detailed instructions, names the music commonly used for the dance, and often gives a brief history of the choreography. He also provides links for further information.
  • Folk Dance Federation of California. Lists dance events happening in California, plus instructions for many dances, and other resources.
  • Folk Dance Federation of California, South. Includes an extensive bibliography on folk dancing, and complete texts of many articles.
  • Phoenix International Folk Dancers. This is the group I dance with. Check it and the PIFD Facebook page if you’re in (or planning to visit) the greater Phoenix area. Come dance with us!
  • YouTube, of course, is the place to look for folk dance videos. Roy Butler has posted hundreds.
  • Pinterest is another source for folk dance visuals. Two places to try: my Folk Dance Costumes board and my Folk Dance Videos board.

folk dancers; children

I’d Rather Be Dancing Albanian Folk Dances

I’d Rather Be Dancing Albanian Folk Dances

My hip replacement surgery is still more than a month away. I have pain every time I stand or walk. I miss my dancing.

I’m a sucker for the beautiful dances of Albania.

The first dance I ever learned to lead was Çobankat. In this video it is led by Lee Otterholt, a frequent guest workshop leader at Phoenix International Folk Dancers, who choreographed it:

Moj Maro Moj Marinë:

I know this dance as Populli Jon, but done to different music:

I love this one, Valle Pogonishte:

This song from Kosovo and Albania, Karafili, goes well with a Greek dance, Syrtos:

One I’ve never danced, Jarnana:

Another dance I don’t know, Oj Fato Fato:

Ketri Ketri, a Roma/Albanian dance:

Valle Shqiptare:

Valle E Permetit is another dance I like to lead. This is just a small portion of the dance, missing the transitional part that is done during the instrumental portions of the song. Note the “bicycle kick” step.

I don’t know all these Albanian dances, but when I hear the first bars of the ones I do know, I’m out on the floor, because they’re such beautiful dances. September, come fast—I can’t wait to dance again!