Coincidentally, I was also given a fabulous new T-shirt with this inspiring message:
Stockton Barbie and I have matching dance-themed skirts now. Here's hers - mine is identical. They were a gift from Diane, a dancer in my class. She sewed them. They each fit us perfectly. I'm looking forward to going to Stockton with Barbie in our skirts.
Coincidentally, I was also given a fabulous new T-shirt with this inspiring message:
I am so blessed.
I've been thinking about Linda (my former dance teacher) a lot lately. When I think of Linda, I think of her abounding energy, her dark eyes, and her smile. And of course her red boots! My eyes were glued to her boots as I learned the dances.
She taught us style-filled couple dances that I haven't considered teaching these past 10 years... like the hambo. I remember learning Zillertaler Landler (video below) from Linda. I haven't done that dance for over 30 years. But I'll never forget Linda's instruction of sticking the guy's hands in his armpit for that repetitive turn.
On the other end of the energy spectrum, Linda taught us lots of lively dances like Hora Or, Trei Pazeste, Cimpoi, Godecki Cacek, Haroa Haktana, and many more. Linda had a great sense of rhythm. Coupled with her spritely approach to these dances, I was won over immediately.
I don't have a crystal ball, but I wonder how much longer I'll be able to teach. Can I do this for another 20 years? I've been inviting the Universe to bring me someone young who will fall madly in love with international folk dancing, and want to learn ALL of the dances that I know. Maybe a cadre of young people. That would be nice. It's essential to keep passing the tradition forward.
From Jonathan Jensen's song "Spread the Joy",
Spread the joy, pass it on,
May it blossom in our children when we're gone,
For the gift of dance and music has the power to enthrall,
Share the magic, spread the joy to one and all.
I know I shouldn't write in red font, but in honor of Linda's red boots...
The photo above is a group of folks from a SWOCC PE 185 Folk Dance class. It was taken in the 1980s; we were performing, but I'm not sure where. We were doing a lively Israeli dance called Hora Or. The exuberant woman on the left in the red boots (with a scarf on her head) was my teacher Linda. See how light she is on her feet?! Linda sewed many of those costumes we were wearing. She taught us invigorating dances, and she made us look good! Folk dance class was a lot of fun, and I'm forever indebted to Elka for inviting me to come along to her class. Linda was an inspiring teacher, and I loved taking her class.
I'm the girl in the photo who is facing the camera... wearing a big white apron and knee socks. I would never have imagined back then that I'd be teaching these dances in a PE class at SWOCC 30-40 years later.
This week, I was contacted by the SWOCC librarian. She had a notebook of instructions from dances taught at PE 185. She said she never had the heart to dispose of it, and asked if I could put it to good use. There had been cassette tapes to go with the notebook, but she said those were long gone. (I remember borrowing those cassettes years ago from the 3rd floor audio-visual part of the library! I thought they were so cool!) How thoughtful of Linda to make all of this information available to the community by putting it in the library. Yet another thing to admire about her!
Every year of Stockton Folk Dance Camp, a syllabus is created that includes folk dance descriptions and notations for each dance that is taught. I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to serve on the committee that researches these descriptions and notations for the 2019 camp, and hopefully for many years beyond.
I'd seen the folk dance High Green Mountain performed last July when I had the opportunity to participate in a musical performance for the Mildred Hill concert series in Port Orford. I've since learned that there are two versions (maybe more) of this dance. I'm referring here to the dance based on the teachings of France Bourque-Moreau.
Vicki I's dance group from Port Orford performed a modified version of the dance to accommodate limited dance space in the carpeted church sanctuary. Even in the confines of that situation, the dancers each carried and shook bells on their hands. The unevenness of the music really caught my attention. Two weeks later, when it was featured in the "Dances for All Ages" segment at Stockton Folk Dance Camp, I knew I wanted to include this dance in my fall semester class.
The "patty cake" part of the dance - when dancers approach the center of the circle and do a series of thigh pats and bell flings, then go back out of the center and do a totally different sequence of thigh pats and bell flings - is my favorite part. I love that the sequences and the music are "crooked".
Also new this semester, we are doing a peppy Sicilian Tarantella. And we're using tambourines.
Up until now in my life, the only times when I initiated dancing with a thing in my hand was holding a hankie between the first and second person on a Sytos... and o-n-c-e as a short line leader on a U Sest. I've held things that other dance leaders used in a class at Stockton or Pourparler (I'm still looking for just the right time to pull out the from-stoic-to-silly balloon dance that I learned from Bobi). But this is really the first time I've introduced dancing with stuff. My opinion: it's terribly fun. My most sincere thanks to William who brought a big bag of bells and tambourines to class. Now that we have them, I'm on the hunt for other dances that use bells and tambourines.
In Goldendale, WA, just over the border from Oregon, there is a lovely art museum - Maryhill Museum. Gail and I had talked about visiting for a long time. We picked a date, and made plans to go.
Often, we'll try to combine our travel with visiting a dance, a jam session or sing-along in the community where we're going. I contacted Sue, a friend in Hood River, to ask if there was anything happening in town that weekend. She said that originally WAS the date of the regularly scheduled dance, but the band had to cancel due to a death in the family.
Gail and I play music and we've played for dancers many times. She plays bouzouki and I play hammered dulcimer and penny whistle. Together, we are The Little Match Girls. We offered to play for the dance. And so it was back on!
Though few in numbers, the dancers were enthusiastic. Sue was flexible and masterfully lead the group with a variety of set dances and a southern running square dance. At one point, we relied on some international folk dance music that I had on my phone. We danced Jocul Mosilor, a Romanian line dance, and Wassouma, a fun dance from Suriname which the kids especially liked. A good time was had by all!
Stockton Folk Dance Camp is an annual gathering of international folk dance aficionados and guest instructors. It's a week-long extravaganza of dancing. And then repeated for a second week!
One way the camp raises money for people seeking scholarships to attend camp is by having an auction each week during camp.
At camp this summer, Susan Gregory created and donated an amazing auction item - she outfitted a Barbie doll with a wardrobe of ethnic dance costumes, dance-branded casual wear, and other assorted fun pieces. She made a Stockton Barbie to be auctioned off each week at the auction.
I was thrilled to have been the high bidder during the first week of camp!
Check Out her Stockton folk dance camp T-shirt and choice of reading material! I'll post some pictures of her in her fabulous costumes here, and you can also follow her on Instagram.
My class is a community ed class through the local community college. I like to start each new semester gathering information from dancers, especially new-to-me dancers: "How did you hear about the class? What's your dance background? What do you want to most get out of this class?"
Even though it is a beginning level class, some people come back semester after semester, year after year. I was deeply touched this week when someone who has been dancing with me for over 6 years announced in our opening circle that she wants to always have this in her life. Okay! Let's do it!
On the last night of this semester's class, the dancers in my class spontaneously made a circle. Instead of holding hands, we held each other in our arms. And we sang:
May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure Light within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on
It was a perfect closing prayer for our 10 weeks together.
I cancelled my summer class due to a bicep tendon injury. Big ouch. Waking up with my arm totally immobile the day after the injury was shocking. Watching my body gain range of motion and strength was magical. What a fabulous creation we are with such healing properties. The worst pain of the summer was not dancing and not teaching.
Last night I went to a contra dance. By the middle of the dance, I felt that I had been handled wrongly by many -- not that anyone was intentionally abusive towards me in their dancing. I think people just don't know how to dance with others... how to hold hands without thumb squeezing the other person's hand... how to allemande without a jack hammer throw approach... how to raise a joined arm or swing in a way that supports the other person...
Any time we are physically connecting with others while dancing, it's important to touch in a way that enhances the dance rather than causes physical or emotional hardship to others. But if you are dancing with someone and you experience discomfort, say something about it immediately. Tell the person it hurts you when you are touched a certain way. If it happens again, stop dancing and talk with the dance organizer about your experience.
With a new dance class semester starting this week, I am dedicating myself to teach not only series of steps and dance styles, but more importantly HOW we dance together with others in ways that does not cause injury. Dancing can be a fun and powerful way to connect with others when there is safety and comfort for everyone on the dance floor.
Dancing give me SO many things to think about...