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 https://marincommunityed.augusoft.net. ).

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 cjay@horizoncable.com or 415-663-9512.





Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Launch into Fall with Folk Dancing!

The beginning of September marks the beginning of new folk dance class sessions! Here's my schedule:

  • Petaluma Monday Night Folk Dancing: Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., September 11-December 11, at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma. Cost is $65 for the 14-week session, or $7 drop-in.
  • College of Marin International Folk Dance Class: Wednesdays 2:10-3:30 p.m, September 6-October 11 and October 25-December 6 (no class on November 22), at PE#2, Kentfield Campus. Cost is $59 for 6-week session (ESCOM members); register at https://marincommunityed.augusoft.net.
  • Israeli Folk Dancing: Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m., September 7-October 19 (no class September 21) and October 26-December 6 (no class November 23), at Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road. Cost is $25 members, $35 non-members per 6-week session (register at the front desk), or $7 members, $9 non-members drop-in.

Newcomers, beginners, and experienced dancers are always welcome. I hope to see you on the dance floor!

If you have questions, or need more information, please feel free to contact me at cjay@horizoncable.com or 415-663-9512.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dance for Kids!

Every summer I have the great pleasure of teaching folk dancing for kids at my local summer camp. I've developed a repertoire of dances from all over the world that work for kids ages 6-14. 

I look for certain basics - fun lively music, lots of stomping and clapping, easy step patterns, and cultural diversity. And I always give myself the liberty to simplify and modify as appropriate. Here are some of the dances my kids love:
  • Singing' in the Rain (U.S.)
  • Syp Simeon (Russia)
  • Zemer Atik (Israel)
  • La Mariposa and Chilili (Bolivia)
  • Zimbole (South Africa)
  • Huayno (Peru)
  • Cupid Shuffle (U.S.)
  • Chicken Dance (surprising, originally from Germany)
  • Macarena (Spain)
  • Hukilau (Hawaii)
  • Hoe Ana (Tahiti)
I've been teaching long enough that kids returning to camp come up to me and request favorites. And, living in a small town, one of the very best things is when I run into one of my kids in town, and they point to me and say "that's my dance teacher!"

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to some tips about teaching kids, or if you'd like me to come and teach a workshop.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Dancing

You can come to all-request international folk dancing in Petaluma or Israeli folk dancing in San Rafael with me this summer:

  • Summer Folk Dancing is on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma starting June 5 and running through August 7. There will be no formal instruction, but the first hour will be easy, fun dances and I'll be there to help newcomers and beginners jump into the dance circle. The rest of the evening we'll be dancing to requests, so bring your list of favorites. Cost is $5 per evening.
  • Israeli Folk Dancing is happening at the Osher JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael on Thursdays 1:30- 4 p.m. through June 1, and then again from July 6-27. The first hour is a beginner session; then I'll teach a couple of intermediate/advanced dances, and then we'll dance to requests. Cost is $7 drop-in.

Hope to see you on the dance floor!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Dancing to Fabulous Balkan Music by Staro Vino

A great dancing time was had by all at our 
Annual Spring Folk Dance Party on April 22 
with live music by Staro Vino!



Monday night dancing in Petaluma continues through May 1, then resumes for Summer Dancing on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma from June 5 to August 7.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Party time!

You are invited to the Annual Petaluma Spring Folk Dance Party on Saturday, April 22!

  • Time: 7:30-10:30 p.m.
  • Place: Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma
  • Admission: $10
  • Format: The first hour will be dancing to old and new recorded favorites, followed by fabulous live Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Greek music by Staro Vino.
  • Musicians: Mark Jenkins, percussion and vocals; Greg Jenkins, clarinet and vocals; Peter Bonos, trumpet;  Andrew Cohen, accordion and vocals.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Folk Dance Class Schedule

Here's what's up for the spring:

Monday night dancing in Petaluma continues at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue through May 1 (no class April 9). Drop-ins and newcomers are always welcome. 


We had a wonderful evening dancing with the Yale Women's Slavic Chorus members and listening to their beautiful singing on March 13. Our next big event will be our Annual Spring Folk Dance Party on April 22 with live music by Staro Vino.


My next College of Marin of Marin International Folk Dance Class starts on April 5 and runs through May 10 on Wednesdays 2:30-3:30 p.m. in PE#22 on the Kentfield campus. I'll be teaching a lovely new dance from Croatia and a Finnish circle dance in waltz rhythm plus favorites from Macedonia, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria. you can register now for this class at: https://marincommunityed.augusoft.net.

Israeli Folk Dancing at the Osher JCC, 200 San Pedro Road, San Rafael, continues through April 13 (no class on March 23) on Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m. Newcomers, beginners, experienced dancers, drop-ins, and all ages are always welcome. You don't have to be a JCC member (or Jewish) to attend the class. The first hour I'll teach easy classic dances, then I'll be teaching/reviewing Salamati and Shir Ahava L'Rhodus, and then we'll dance to requests. You can come just for the first hour or stay for the whole class; register and pay at the JCC front desk.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Yale Women's Slavic Choir in Petaluma on March 13!

I'm please to announce that the Yale Women's Slavic Choir will be coming to sing for us (and dance with us) on Monday, March 13, 7-9:15 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma! 


The Yale Slavic Chorus is a performance group comprised of women from a variety of cultural and academic backgrounds who share a common passion for Slavic music. The Chorus sings a diverse repertoire that spans the traditions of Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, among others. The Chorus is dedicated to maintaining musical vigor and excellence, seeking to empower women through song.

I've had the great pleasure of hearing members of this chorus sing at Balkan Camp in Mendocino - they are absolutely wonderful. I hope you'll join us for this special event.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Start Your New Year Dancing!

Happy new year!

Here's my schedule of classes for winter/spring 2017:

Petaluma International Folk Dance - Mondays 7-9:15 p.m., January 2-May 1 (no class April 10) at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma. Cost is $65 for the 17-week session, or $7 drop-in. You can register for the session at the first class. Note that the first hour from 7-8 p.m. will be easy beginning/intermediate dances, with full instruction and/or review as needed. At 8 p.m. I'll teach 2-3 intermediate/advance dances, followed by dancing to requests.

Israeli Folk Dancing - Thursdays 1:30-4 p.m., January 12-February 16, March 2-April 13 (no class March 23) at the Osher JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Cost is $30 per 6-week session, $7 drop-in (JCC members get discounted prices). You can register and pay at the JCC front desk. Note that the first hour of this class will focus on older, simpler Israeli dances with full instruction and/or review as needed. After that we'll dance some favorite line dances (Israeli and otherwise), then have an intermediate/advanced lesson, followed by dancing to requests.

College of Marin International Folk Dance - Wednesday 2:10-3:30 p.m., February 1- March 15 (no class March 1), April 5-May 10, at PE#22 on the College of Marin Kentfield Campus. Cost is $54 per 6-week session (ESCOM members). You must register in advance no later than January 30 at https://marincommunityed.augusoft.net.

Newcomers, beginners to advanced dancers, all ages, drop-ins are always welcome! Please feel free to contact me at cjay@horizoncable.com if you have questions or need more information.