Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Vive la difference!

Once upon a time, the Punster and I were hard-core folk dancers, going to one-three dance sessions almost every week. Then parenthood struck, and babysitting and scheduling became issues. We were out of the scene for about 20 years.

Finally, the Punster having decided that folk dancing was a more enjoyable way to exercise than going to the gym, we started dancing again about a year ago. We found the folk dance scene much changed. For one thing, the newer Israeli dances are much more complicated than the older ones. (My theory is that the older dances were choreographed by just about anyone with a smidge of aptitude, whereas the newer dances are being choreographed by [former] professional dancers). In many cases, the newer dances are far more interesting to watch, but also considerably more difficult to learn. In addition, for reasons unkown, the newer dances have far more turns in them, which is unfortunate for me, since I’m prone to dizziness, and this restricts severely my ability to learn and dance the newer dances.

The other problem was that we couldn’t find any international folk dancing sessions that were easy to get to and fit our schedule. So we had a great time at Alex’s50%-Israeli/50%-international session, doing dances from the Balkans (Serbia, Macedonia, etc.), Greece, and Armenia that we hadn’t done in twenty years. Half the time, I was on autopilot—apparently, my feet have a better memory than my brain has. :)

There was another reason why I had a grand old time. Since I haven’t found a jeans skirt that fit me in several years, I’ve been going folk dancing in jeans. Just recently, I was rescued by Land’s End, who put out the first full skirt I’ve seen in their catalog in years. So I went to a folk dance session in a skirt for the first time in ages. Wearing a skirt when dancing can be fun. Skirts can be grabbed in the hands and swung, or, if you move in just the right way, you can make them swirl without putting a pinky on them. In point of fact, there’s a Hungarian women’s dance that I remember from 20 years ago in which, at one point, the dancers all sway in such a way as to make their skirts swing forward. When one does that dance in pants, it definitely loses something in the translation.

Years ago, we had a friend who used to dance in an amateur Yugoslavian folk dance troupe. She explained to us that, since the native clothing of the women of many of the regions of the area included long and heavy skirts, the women had developed a totally different dancing style. Whereas the guys would pick a foot clear up off the floor so that the heel was at least above the opposite foot’s ankle, then give the foot one or two very small kicks—giving new meaning to the old saying, “shake a leg”—the women would just bend the knee enough to raise the heel, leaving the toe still on the floor, and do a little hip-wiggle in the same rhythm as the men’s kick. So, in honor of the occasion of a) our return to international folk dancing, and b) my return to wearing a skirt for folk dance sessions, I decided to do all of the Balkan dances in the manner of the women. That was fun. Perhaps too much fun, in truth—I never did get the “little” part of that hip-wiggle thing quite right. But, in any case, I had a great time. As the old song goes, “I enjoy being a girl.”

Baruch she-asani isha—Praised is (the One) Who made me a woman.


Blogger Eliyahu said...

Vive la difference! Oui! Si! Yes!

Thu Jul 14, 11:18:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...


Fri Jul 15, 09:01:00 AM 2005  

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