Sunday, May 31, 2009

New summer class sessions will be starting next week!
Summer Dancing in Petaluma at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue will be on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., June 8-August 10. Note that our first session on June 8 will in memory of our dear friend and fellow dancer John Hagopian.
International Folk Dance Classes at the Dance Palace will be on Wednesdays 7-8:15 p.m., June 10-July 22 (no class on July 1). I'll be teaching beginning dances from 7-7:30  p.m., and intermediate/advanced dances from 7:30-8:15 p.m.
Ballroom Dance Class at the Dance Palace will be on Tuesdays 7:15-8:15 p.m. (note new time for the summer), June 9-July 14 (no class June 30). We'll be focusing on salsa, swing, and waltz, going over the basic steps and learning some cool new moves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It is with great sadness that I report that John Hagopian died suddenly from a stroke on May 19. John was a stalwart member and leader of Snap-Y Dancers in Petaluma. He danced for years with Carol Hirsh; when I took over teaching the Monday night class, he and his wife Susan gamely volunteered to help out with setup, cleanup, taking money, and general administration. John came just about every Monday, and was there from start to finish. He was a wonderful dancer, and often led some of our favorite dances. Our first evening of summer dancing in Petaluma on June 8 will be dedicated to his memory.

For those of you who like to ballroom dance, don't miss the Tea Dance at the Dance Palace this Saturday, May 30, 4- 7 p.m. There will be wonderful live music by the 20-piece Albany Big Band, elegant refreshments, and - as always - the wonderful dance floor and atmosphere.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm focusing on Israeli dances this session in Point Reyes. Adama V'shamayim is a modern Israeli dance, choreographed in 2008 by Gadi Bitton. Kuma Echa is an "old-style" Israeli dance, choreographed in the 1950's by Rivka Shturman. The old-style dances have simpler, more straightforward footwork and patterns; most of them are done in a closed circle, holding hands. Modern dances are extremely complex, with lots of turns and changes of direction; hands are rarely held, and the music can range from Country Western to Arabic to Israeli pop music. Unlike folk dances in the Balkans, all Israeli dances are choreographed; there are a multitude of choreographers and many of the dances can be viewed on Youtube.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Foxtrot takes its name from its inventor, vaudeville actor Harry Fox. Originally danced to ragtime, it was the most popular social dance in the U.S. through the 1940's. The wonderful husband and wife duo, Irene and Vernon Castle, featured and popularized the dance in their routines. When rock and roll took over in the 1950's, record companies initially labeled the music as foxtrots, notably Bill Haley and the Comets singing "Rock Around the Clock." Like Swing, the Foxtrot rhythm is SSQQ (slow slow quick quick), but with different foot work. I'm teaching Foxtrot in my Tuesday night ballroom dance class, getting everyone ready to dance to the Albany Big Band at the Dance Palace on May 30.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Monday, May 4, 7-9:15 p.m., Petaluma Snap-Y Dancers will celebrate the end of the session with dancing (of course!), drinks, and snacks. Summer dancing will start on June 8 and continue through August 10.

In Point Reyes, the Wednesday night beginning folk dance class is learning basic dances from Bulgaria (Pravo), Greece (Syrto), Macedonia (Les Noto), and Serbia (Setnja). The ongoing class is learning Adama V'Shamayim, a lively Israeli dance whose title means "Earth and Sky." We're also working on numerous Daichovo variations; Daichovo Oro is a Northern Bulgarian dance in 9/8 (QQQS) rhythm. This session, I've also brought back Adje Jano, a wonderful familiar dance from Serbia but with great new modern music, as well as Skopos ti Augis, a lovely dance from Patmos in Greece that is traditionally danced by women at dawn greeting their fishermen husbands as they return home from fishing.