Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Music & dancing make me at peace with the world" - Nelson Mandela

"It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world and at peace with myself." Nelson Mandela

Big fun dancing with all of you at the Annual Petaluma Folk Dance Party! Hope to see you all on the dance floor when Monday night dancing resumes on January 6.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hot off the camera: Dzangurica

Hot off the camera - check out this video of the Monday night Petaluma folk dance group doing Yves Moreau's version of Dzangurica:

Hope you'll all join us on Monday, December 9, 7-9:30 p.m., for our Annual Petaluma Holiday Folk Dance Party at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma. We'll dance to old and new recorded favorites for the first hour, and then to the wonderful live Balkan music by Santa Rosa Vecherinka.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Serbian Cacaks and more in November

I had a great time teaching Yves Moreau's Dzangurica (a favorite dance in Petaluma) at the California Folk Dance Federation Officers' Ball in October!

In November, I'll be focusing on Serbian Cacaks. The word "cacak" means "dirty mud." There are many variations from different towns, but all Cacak-style dances are in 2/4 rhythm.  I'll be teaching a basic 10-count Cacak from Vranje that I learned from Alex Markovic at Balkan Camp,  the 12-count Zaplanjski Cacak, and Sandy's Cacak which has an unusual 17-count phrase. And I'll also be teaching Bregovsko Horo - this is a Bulgarian dance from the town of Bregovo which is right near the Serbian border, and it's essentially a Cacak with a classic 10-count  phrase but some uniquely Bulgarian styling.

Coming up in December:
All-review night on December 2
Annual Holiday Folk Dance Party with live music on December 9

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Israel, Russia & Albania: Four Fun Dances for October

Monday night dancing in Petaluma continues, and we're learning some great dances! 

Coming up this month:
  • Zuz Mitzad Letzad - a lively and fun contemporary Israeli dance choreographed by Yaron Carmel in 2007; I particularly love the translated lyrics - "Whoever is dancing will get respect, and if you don't know how then it's time to learn, move from side to side, whoa whoa."
  • Shir Al Etz - an older Israeli favorite in waltz tempo danced to a beautiful traditional Yiddish melody
  • Ya Da Kalinushku Lomala - a Russian women's circle dance
  • Valle e Rrajces - Nadav Nur will be coming on October 17 to teach this Albanian dance introduced by Steve Kotansky at Mendocino Folklore Camp
And note that Santa Rosa Vecherinka will be providing live Bulgarian and Macedonian music for our annual Holiday Folk Dance Party on Monday, December 9, 7-9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looking Like the Balkan Rockettes

We've learned two new Balkan dances with interesting and different spatial patterns, and when everyone's steps are synchronized they look quite wonderful! 

Milisso is a dance from the region of Thrace in Northern Greece danced in a circle but with a 10-measure pattern that describes a flat figure eight.

Kamay Verdum Yere is a Greek dance that comes from the Greek population that lived in Cappadocia (now in Turkey) until they were forced to leave during the 1923 population exchange. The dance is done facing counter-clockwise with the left hand on the right shoulder, which the person behind clasps with his/her right hand, thus making the dancers very close together. In the first pattern, everyone moves forward and leans out to the right on the third count; in the second pattern, everyone moves backwards. 

I learned both of these dances from Joe Graziosi at Balkan Music and Dance Camp this past summer. You can check out great videos of both dances in the "dance videos" section of this blog.

Our fall session continues on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. through the first week in December. Beginners, newcomers, experienced dancers, all ages, drop-ins always welcome. And note that we will be hosting our annual Holiday Folk Dance Party with live music by Santa Rosa Vecherinka on Monday, December 9.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Monday night dancing in Petaluma returns on September 9! Classes are Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. from September 9 to December 9. Every evening starts with a beginner lesson at 7 p.m., followed by an intermediate lesson around 8 p.m., plus lots of time for requests and dancing to old/new favorites.

We'll learning some great new dances this fall including dances I learned at Balkan Folk Dance Camp, a few we danced this summer that folks have asked me to review, and some other dances I've just picked up at various dance venues: 

  • Selka, Cacak, and Nishki Cocek (Serbian dances from Vranje taught by Alex Markovic) 
  • Gaida Hor (a lovely Macedonian dance taught by Steve Kotansky)
  • Milisso, Vay Kalenin, and Kamay Vurdum Yere (Greek dances taught by Joe Graziosi)
  • Hora Veche, Alunelul de La Urzica, and Trei Pazeste Batrinesc (Rumania)
  • Ya Da Kalinushku Lomala (Russia)
  • Tervelska Raka (Bulgaria)
  • Shir al Etz, Zuz Mitzad Letzhad, and Achot K'tana Lanu (Israel).

Plus Gary Anderson will be teaching Triti Pati from Silven and Kapetain Vojvodo, two Bulgarian dances taught by Yves Moreau at this summer's Stock Dance Camp and Nadav Nur will be coming on October 14 to teach Valle e Rrajces, a great Albanian dance he learned from Steve Kotansky at Mendocino Folklore Camp.

Looking forward to a great fall season of dancing with you all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fall Dance Classes Start in September

Time to start dancing again! My fall classes will start up after Labor Day:

  • Petaluma Snap-Y Dancers International Folk Dance Fall Session - Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., September 9-December 9, at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma. Cost is $65 for the 14-week session, or $7 drop-in. Beginner lesson at 7 p.m., intermediate/advanced lesson around 8 p.m., with lots of time for dancing to old/new favorites and requests. 
  • International Folk Dance Class at the College of Marin - Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m., September 4-October 16 (no class October 2) & October 30-December 11 at the PE Building #22, College of Marin, Kentfield. Cost is $56 for the first 6-week session, $59 for the second 7-week session. Registration at:
  • Mostly Urban Soul Line Dance Workshops - Wednesdays 6-7 p.m., September 11, October 2, November 5, December 4, at the Dance Palace, 503 B Street, Point Reyes. Cost is $15 per workshop.

All welcome - beginners to advanced dancers, newcomers, all ages. Great exercise, great music, great fun!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Dancing continues in Petaluma at Herman Sons Hall at 860 Western Avenue -- Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. through August 5. Lots of fun, lots of great dancing - bring your requests! Newcomers and beginners always welcome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Check this wonderful video of young protesters in Taksim Square, Turkey,
 gathered around a gaida player ,
chanting and dancing Black Sea style:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We had a great time at our end-of-session party in Petaluma! 
The whole gang was there:

Dancing Ciuleandra, a wonderful line dance from Rumania - Marina Troost leading the women's line, Paul Smith leading the men.
Ending the evening with Mom Bar, a beautiful Armenian dance, 
led by Steve Ayala.

Summer dancing on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma, will start up on June 3 and run through August 5.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Over 60 people came to our Annual Petaluma Spring Folk Dance party  on April 13 and had a wonderful time dancing to our favorite nameless Balkan band! 

Greg Jenkins, Dena Bjornlie, Lisa Ekstrom, and Mark Jenkins played great tunes for dances including Paidushko, Pomsko Sirto, Jove Male Mome, Sedi Donka, and Kopanitsa. 

Monday night dancing in Petaluma continues through May 6 - come join us!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Celebrate April Fool's Day by folk dancing on Monday, April 1, 7-9:15 p.m. at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma! I'll have a few dance surprises for you including a honky tonk version of Dobruzhanska Reka, a Rumanian bunny hop, and a Russian hand jive dance.

During the month of April, we'll continue learning Bicak, a wonderful Bulgarian dance introduced by Yves Moreau, as well as reviewing dances that the band will be playing at our April 13 dance party (including Tropanka, Paidushko, Kopanitsa, and Eleno Mome). I'll also teach Valle e Permetit and Bracno Oro, two lovely Albanian dances.

And don't miss our Annual Spring Folk Dance Party on Saturday, April 13, 8-11 p.m. The evening will feature dancing to old and new recorded favorites, plus live Balkan music by Greg Jenkins, Dena Bjornlie, Lisa Ekstrom, and Mark Jenkins.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Come learn some more wonderful, easy folk dances from around the world at my International Folk Dance Class at College of Marin on Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m., March 27-May 8 (no class April 10). 
The dances are fun, great exercise, and danced to a wonderful assortment of world music.This class is a good way to get started (or to return to) folk dancing in a friendly, energetic and welcoming environment. We'll learn dances from Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, France, and more. 
Course number is 35016EC; cost is $56 for the 6-week session. The class is held at PE#22 on the Kentfield campus. To register, go to:

You can also register by mail (forms available at the Emeritus Center at College of Marin) or I can mail a form to you. I’ll also have registration forms available  at the first class of the new session on March 27.

Monday, February 4, 2013

We've been learning some great dances on Monday nights in Petaluma:

  • Pustanka - a lively dance from the Bitola region of Macedonia, in 12/16 rhythm (SQQSQ)
  • Agadelcha - a Yemenite-style Israeli dance choreographed by Israel Hakovee in 1979, done to a lovely Shabbat melody
  • Kritiki Syrto - a vigorous and fun Cretan syrto variation taught to us by Nadav Nur
  • Hora Miresii - a lovely Rumanian women's dance, taught by Gary Anderson
  • Troirou - a really fun, arm-swinging Greek circle dance from Boyialiki
  • Talima - a two-pattern dance from the Dobrudza region of Bulgaria

Note that videos are posted in the Dance Video section of this blog for Pustanka, Agadelcha, Hora Miresii, Troirou, and Talima.

Coming up this month, I'll be teaching and/or reviewing these dances: Diuzko (Greece), Dipat (Greece), Kolomeyke (Yiddish/Klezmer), Ina Ina (Rumania) and Liljane Mome (Bulgaria).

Beginners and newcomers are always welcome; come join us!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Last night, at our first class of 2013, we danced the Armenian dance Mom Bar in memory of longtime member of Petaluma Snap-Y Dancers Anne Ayala, who passed away on December 20, 2012: