Monday, November 11, 2019

Holiday Party with Orchestra Euphonos

Mark your calendars now for our annual Petaluma Holiday Folk Dance Party at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma, featuring live music by Orchestra Euphonos on Monday, December 9, 7-9:30 p.m.

The first hour will be dancing to old and new recorded favorites. After that, Orchestra Euphonos will take over, playing exciting lively music from Romania, Israel, and Greek Macedonia.

For the month of November, I'll be focusing on teaching dances that the band will be playing including La Breaza, Cadaneasca, Sirba, Geamparele, Hora Veche (Romania), Ma Navu, Dodi Li (Israel), and Zavitslena, Gaida, Sofka (Greek Macedonia), as well as a Slow Hora (Yiddish/Klezmer).

Come join us this month to learn the dances, and come celebrate holiday season with us at our annual party on December 9!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Bulgarika Rocks the House!

We had a fabulous time dancing to live music by the renowned Bulgarian ensemble Bulgarika at our folk dance party on October 21!

Nikolay Kolev on gadulka, Donka Koleva on vocals, Temelko Ivanos on naval, Nikolay Kodzhabashev on tambura, and Marin Shalamov on tapan played a wide range of favorites including Dospatsko Horo, Sedi Donka, Katerino Mome, and Triti Puti as well as great renditions of Pravo, Devetorka, and Les Noto. 

Our youngest dancer, the grandson of the well-known and beloved singer Tsvetanka Varimezova (along with his mother Radke), joined us.

Our next Holiday Folk Dance Party on Monday, December 9, 7-9:30 p.m., will feature Orchestra Euphonos playing Romanian, Balkan, and Israeli music.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Fall 2019 Folk Dance Schedule

Get ready to dance again! I'll be teaching international folk dance classes on Monday nights in Petaluma and on Wednesday afternoons at College of Marin in Kentfield, as well as Israeli Folk Dance on Thursday afternoons at the Marin JCC.

Here's the schedule:
Petaluma Folk Dancing - Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., September 9-December 9, Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma
College of Marin International Folk Dance - Wednesdays 2:10-3:20 p.m.,  August 28-October 2, October 23-December 4 (no class November 27), PE#60, College of Marin, Kentfield
Israeli Folk Dancing - Thursdays, 1:30-4 p.m., September 1-October 10, October17-November 21.

Note that there's a special deal (with support from the Haddie Fund) for the College of Marin classes - fee is only $15 (plus your annual $15 EScom membership) for each 6-week session. For this class you need to register in advance by August 19 at: 415-485-9305 or  

Hope to see you all on the dance floor!

Friday, June 7, 2019

So You Think You Can't Dance...

I can’t tell you how times I’ve heard this from folks who find out I teach folk dance: I can’t dance. I’m really bad at dancing. I’m left-footed. I have no sense of rhythm. My (fill in the blank: wife, partner, friend, PE teacher, mother…) refuses to dance with me.

I beg to differ. I fully believe everyone can dance. I fully believe that everyone can bring joy and fun into their lives through dancing.


Well, the first thing you have to do is stop telling yourself you can’t dance. The words you say, whether out loud or just in your head, are powerful. Telling yourself you can’t dance is the primary thing that’s keeping you from dancing.

Next, find a dance class that is warm, welcoming, and open to newcomers and beginners. And look for a teacher who works actively to integrate newcomers and beginners into the class.

Note that, in my experience, 75% of adults can’t tell their right foot from their left – so you’re in good company. Here’s the trick: when you are in a dance circle facing in standard line of direction (counter-clockwise for the most part, except for those pesky French and Croatians who go the other way), your right foot will be on the outside (and your left foot on the inside).

Then you need to relax. Relax your shoulders and your arms and your knees. Try to feel the rhythm through the hands you are holding. Listen to the music.
Note that there is no rule of dance etiquette that you’re supposed to go the end of the line. In fact, it’s much better for you to find two friendly experienced dancers and stand between them - because one of the very best ways to learn is by letting your fellow dancers help you. And know that different people learn at different paces; some will learn a dance immediately; others will need more time to figure it out.

Every single one of us, beginners to experienced dancers (including me!), makes mistakes – it’s not a sin in folk dancing. No need to feel embarrassed: just laugh, shrug it off, never say oops, and keep moving with the dance circle and the musical beat.

So go out, start dancing, and join in the fun – I promise it will make you a better, happier person.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Staro Vino Rocked the House!

We partied in Petaluma on April 6, dancing to old and new recorded favorites followed by fabulous live Balkan music by Staro Vino!

Peter Bonos on Trumpet, Greg Jenkins on clarinet, Andrew Cohen on accordion, and Mark Jenkins on percussion

Eve O'Rouke leading a Thracian Racenica:

Steve Ayala leading a Pravo:

Monday night folk dancing continues through May 6 (no class April 29), then starts up again for summer dancing June 3-August 5. Come dance with us!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Going Greek this Month

This month in Petaluma I'm focusing on teaching Greek dances that illustrate the breadth of different styles and rhythms from four regions in the small country of Greece:

  • Chaniotikos is a lively and fun Cretan syrto that I learned when I was at a dance seminar on the island of Ikaria, from a teacher from Crete who was very specific about styling.
  • Zagorisios is a wonderful dance in 9/8 rhythm (QQQS) from Epirus.
  • Sofka is danced in Greek Macedonia, in northern Greece.
  • Dipat (sometimes spelled Dhipat) is a beautiful, hypnotic Pontic dance in 9/8 rhythm (QQQS), danced very close together in a closed circle.
  • I learned the last three dances when I was at a dance seminar in the town of Prespa, in Greek Macedonia. 

And just to mix it up, next month I'll be teaching two Israeli folk dance favorites: Darkenu (Gadi Bitton, 2002) and Liya (Moshe Eskayo, 2007).

Come dance! You can drop-in any time for International Folk Dance on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall,m 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma or Israeli Folk Dance on Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m., Osher Marin JCC, 200 N, San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Beginners and newcomers are always welcome.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Start the New Year Dancing!

You've partied and indulged and eaten holiday treats - now's the perfect time to plan your dancing routine for 2019. Dancing is great fun, great exercise, and great community. Here's my schedule for classes in the new year:

  • International Folk Dancing in Petaluma: Mondays, 7-9:15 p.m., January 7-May 6 (no class April 22) at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma; $85 for the 17-week session, or $7 drop-in.
  • International Folk Dance Class at College of Marin: Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m., February 6-March 6 & April 3-May 8, at PE#60, Kentfield Campus, College of Marin; $68 per 6-week session; register in advance at 415-484-9305 or
  • Israeli Folk Dance Class: Thursdays, 1:30-4 p.m., January 3-February 14 (no class January 24), February 21-March 28, & April 4-May 16 (no class May 9) at the 2nd floor Pilates Studio, Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael; $30 members, $40 non-members per session or $8/$10 drop-in
Newcomers, beginning to advanced are always welcome; no partner is necessary. Please feel free to contact me at if you have questions.

I hope to see you on the dance floor in 2019!