Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Folk Dance Party!

More than 60 happy dancers congregated at Hermann Sons Hall for our Annual Spring Folk Dance Party!

We danced to an hour set of recorded music that included new favorites Pharo Malishevsko Horo, Varnensko Horo and Katerino Mome.

Staro Vino then serenaded us with a great mix of Greek, Macedonian, Serbian and Bulgarian music including Sofka, U Sest, and Eleno Mome for dancing, ending the evening with a beautiful Lesno.

Monday night dancing in Petaluma continues through May 7, then taking a break before Summer Dancing starts on June 4 through August 6.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Romani Dance Workshop with Sani Rifati

We had the great pleasure of hosting guest teacher Sani Rifati in Petaluma, doing a workshop on Romani folk dance. He taught four dances: Romano Horo,Telo Vas Horo, Surdulicko Horo, and Pharo Malishevsko Horo

Sani lives in Berlin now, but he lived for a long time in Sonoma County, where he launched the annual Herdelezi Festival - these festivals were my first joyous introduction to Romani music, food and dancing. Sani is the founder/director of Voice of Roma, as well as a wonderful dancer and dance teacher.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

So Many Dances, So Much Fun

It’s been a special pleasure to introduce and teach three new dances at Monday night dance class in Petaluma, inspired by Da! Mozhem and Kabile who played them live at our fall 2017 parties: Varnensko Horo and Katerino Mome from Bulgaria, and Niska Banja from Serbia. I’ve also been periodically introducing some favorite Israeli oldies that I teach in my Israeli class at the JCC in San Rafael as well as teaching Cestata, a great Bulgarian paidushko-style dance taught by Michael Ginsburg at the Kolo Festival and bringing Sedi Donka (a Bulgarian dance introduced by Yves Moreau). 

International folk dancing in Petaluma continues through May 7 (no class on April 16) on Mondays 7-9:30 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma. Drop-ins, newcomers, beginners through experienced dancers, and all ages are always welcome.

For those looking for daytime classes, you can register for the International Folk Dance class at the College of Marin on Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m., April 4-May 16. I’m excited to say that my February/March class is completely full with my biggest enrollment every (30 people), more than half of them are newcomers! Turns out that the college periodically chooses a few classes to offer at rock bottom prices; this 6-week session was a mere $15 (I have to admit I thought it was a typo when they sent the class description to me for confirmation before publication; the usual cost is $59). It’s a one-shot deal, but I’m excited to have this opportunity to introduce so many new folks to the fun and pleasure of folk dancing, and I hope they’ll keep coming. 

You can also join the Israeli folk dance class on Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m., February 22-March 29 at the Osher Jewish Community Center, 200 San Pedro Road, San Rafael (drop-ins are always welcome at this class; for the college classes you need to register for the full session in advance).

And mark your calendars now for the Annual Petaluma Spring Folk Dance Party on Saturday, April 21, 7:30-10:30 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall, featuring live music by Staro Vino.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Folk Dance Schedule for 2018

Happy almost new year!

Here's my schedule for classes in 2018:

  • Monday Night Dancing in Petaluma - Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., January 4-March 7 (no class on April 18), at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma
  • College of Marin International Folk Dance - Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m., February7-March 14; April 4-May 16 (no class April 18), PE #60, Kentfield Campus, College of Marin
  • Israeli Folk Dance - Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m., January 4-February 15 (no class February 1); February 22-March 29, 2nd Floor Pilates Studio, Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, Petaluma
Newcomers, beginners to advanced dancers, all ages are always welcome and no partner is necessary.

Hope to see you on the dance floor.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Annual Holiday Folk Dance Party on December 11

You're invited to the annual Petaluma Holiday Folk Dance Party on Monday, December 11, 7-9:30 p.m. at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma, featuring live Balkan music by Da! Mozhem.

This event is hosted by Petaluma Snap-Y Dancers, and everyone is welcome to come dance and/or just listen to the fabulous music.

The first hour will feature dancing to old and new recorded favorites, followed by Da! Mozhem performing a great mix of Balkan and international music. With veterans of many well-loved groups, including the People’s International Silver String Macedonian Band, Westwind, the Slavonian Traveling Band, and Born to Drone, Da! Mozhem plays a lively and beautiful variety of folk dance music on traditional and modern instruments and sings lush multi-part harmonies.

Come enjoy our friendly atmosphere, great mix of dances, and the wonderful wood dance floor at Herman Sons Hall. Admission is $10, and includes refreshments.

I hope to see you on the dance floor!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fires, Folk Dance, Family

On Monday morning, October 9, I woke up to smoky skies and reports of big fires in Sonoma County. After checking with folks from my Petaluma class, as well as news reports, I decided it was necessary and prudent to cancel that evening’s folk dance class, because of the uncertainty of the situation as well as requests by authorities to leave the roads clear for emergency vehicles. Thus began an intense and unsettling and anxious week as I tried to reach and stay in touch with all of my students as the fires threatened Santa Rosa and Sonoma and elsewhere. I gathered and shared important information (some from the Santa Rosa group, many of whom dance in both venues), made sure everyone knew how to get in touch, and compiled a list with up-to-date information as well as offers of housing. More than half of my class evacuated, some due to the horrible air quality, many others due to mandatory orders.

Uncertainty and smoke were still in the air the following Monday, but I made a decision to have class that night. The sense of relief and comfort was evident on everyone’s faces as they walked in the door. One couple had lost their home; another had just been able to get back and see that their home still stood. Others were still uncertain, some staying elsewhere with relatives out of the smoke. A whole lot of hugging went on, and much sharing of stories.

The following Monday, October 23, we had scheduled a special dance party with live music from Kabile; I was uncertain as to what the turnout would be, given the circumstances, but we had almost 60 people, including numerous folks who had just returned to homes that miraculously were not touched. There was more hugging, and sharing of stories. We sang happy birthday to two dancers. And then the band started playing, and we joined hands in our circle. And so we danced, knowing even more than before how important and powerful this dancing is, how much it is not just about movement and music, how it is fundamentally about friendship and support and love and community and family.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Dances from Albania - and more

I've been focusing on dances from Albania learned from Steve and Suzy Kotansky in my international folk dance classes at College of Marin and in Petaluma. These are all dances Steve and Suzy saw and danced while they were traveling in southern Albania earlier this year. 

As opposed to what has frequently been in the international folk dance repertoire, these dances are not highly choreographed; there's a basic pattern, with perhaps a variation or two. Several of them are quite similar to dances done in bordering countries: Elenoqi and the Bulgarian dance Svornato are both in 9/8 rhythm with a 4-measure pattern; Valle Katushkes is basically a paidushko (Bulgaria and Macedonia), but danced in a 6/8 rhythm that also changes the styling; Valle e Isuf Apart is much like a Greek tsamiko. And all of the music is wonderful.

You can come learn all of these dances - plus some old favorites (Horehronski Cardas, Bufcansko), my latest favorite Israeli dance (Tzil Ha Emek), a new line dance I just learned (Summer Night Cha Cha) plus lots more on Monday nights in Petaluma (drop-ins are always welcome) and at my College of Marin class on Wednesdays (next session starts October 25; for this class you need to register for the full session in advance at ).

Note that there are numerous videos of dances that I am currently teaching, as well as others I've taught previously, on this blog in the Dance Video section.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about the dances or my classes at or 415-663-9512.