Tag Archives: Folk Dancing

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:

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:

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:

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.

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:

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:

Creative Juice #212

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Creative Juice #212

I much prefer these uplifting, creative articles to the news these days.