Wednesday, January 31, 2024

After watching a fascinating Zoom session on Sephardic cultureI was inspired to dig deeper into Sephardic music and dance – and to bring back several dances to Sephardic music including La Rosa Enfloresce (the Sephardic language version of the Israeli dance Hashoshanah Porachat). As far as I know, the only dance in the repertoire that appears to be traditional is Alta es Luna; it was introduced as such by Eric Bendix.

The language of Sephardic Jews was Ladino, a romance language that originated in Spain and was preserved by the descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled from Spain after 1492. It’s a very archaic form of Castilian Spanish, mixed with Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Turkish, Greek French, Bulgarian and ItalianLadino preserves many words and grammatical usages that have been lost in modern Spanish. It was originally written in versions of Hebrew script, but these days it is written with the Latin alphabet. 

In the videos I watched online, only the women dance, no one is holding hands or leading, and it resembles basic belly dancing. The women (called Tanyaderas) led song and dance life-cycle celebrations, especially for the many events that were part of weddings. A frame drum was used to accompany their singing. Medieval texts and images suggest that Jewish women’s song-dance leadership was normative in Mediterranean Jewish communities.


In Sephardic communities such as those in Turkey, the Balkans, Bosnia, and Morocco, Tanyaderas were invited to sing and drum at all the life-cycle ceremonies – most particularly at weddings - where they often conducted the ceremonies and supervised the details. Note that Miriam, the older sister of Moses, wrote the Song of Miriam and led the Israelites in dance and song at the shore of the Red Sea. Jeremiah proclaimed "you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful."  And I have always loved this phrase from Ecclesiastes – “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." 


Illuminated medieval Spanish Haggadot (the prayer books read by Jews for the holiday of Passover) all included a section of images of women dancing. Depictions of Miriam and women celebrating at the shores of the Red Sea appear in the Sarejevo Haggadah in the fourteenth century. In Sephardic communities in Turkey, the Balkans, and Morocco, Tanyaderas were invited to sing and drum at all the life-cycle ceremonies, where they often conducted the ceremonies and supervised the details.

Sephardic communities had many unique wedding customs. Tanyaderas led these events through their distinctive songs and dances, as they helped the community fulfill Jewish requirements for rejoicing at a Jewish wedding. This included the ritual bath the evening before the bride was to be married. Afterwards, the women, sang, danced, ate sweets, and drank strong liquor. Tanyaderas in Morocco also led singing and dancing at a henna party that involved painting the hands and feet of the bride-to-be.

Today there are still Sephardic communities in Israel and Morocco that employ the Tanyaderas for life-cycle celebrations in Jewish communities. Music and dance continue to play a compelling role in Jewish Mediterranean cultures, and women’s leadership outside of the synagogue held great importance for the Sephardim.

Please do join us in Petaluma on Monday nights 7-9 p.m. at Herman Sons Hall in Petaluma and enjoy our wide repertoire of international folk dances. For more information, contact me at

Friday, December 22, 2023

 Monday night dancing at Hermann Sons Hall in Petaluma starts up again 7-9 p.m. after the new year on January 8 and runs through May 20 (no class on April 9).  Newcomers and beginners are always welcome – first class is free, and the first half hour focuses on easy, fun, beginner dances from Bulgaria, Romania, France, Serbia, Ukraine, Israel, Greece and more.

We are looking forward to dancing again with live music from Da Mozehm in February. As well, we are excited that Jaap Leegwater will be returning to Petaluma on Monday, April 24.  

Our winter/spring session runs from January 8 to May 20. Newcomers and visitors are always welcome; for more information, contact me at 415-663-9512 or

Thursday, October 19, 2023

We had a wonderful time dancing to fabulous music by Bulgarika on Monday night, 0ctober 23! 

Five master musicians, all steeped in Bulgarian Music and rhythms make up the band: Nikolay Kolev (gadulka), Dona Kolev (vocals), Temelko Ivanov (naval), Nikolay Kodzhabashev (tambulfa), and Marin Chalamov (tapan).

At the same time, all of us are mourning the passing of Paul Smith, who was a mainstay of our dance group for decades. He was an elegant, understated dancer, a lovely man, and a dear friend. I am picturing him now, leading some of his favorite dances including Melnik and Joe Batreanesc. Paul is the one in the middle in the photograph; fairly sure he is dancing Bavno Oro. He will be deeply missed. 

Monday night dancing 7-9 p.m. at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western, Petaluma,  continues through December 18.  Newcomers and beginners are always welcome. For more information, contact Carol Friedman at 415-663-951.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Massive storms, flooding, and power outages delayed the start of my classes that had been scheduled to begin again the week of January 9. This included three days without power or Wi-Fi, significant flooding, plus periodic power outages and downed trees blocking the roads throughout the rest of the week. A huge Monterey Cypress tree branch fell on my property - luckily it just missed my garage. 

I’m glad to report that the Balkan/International class on Mondays 7-9 p.m. and the Israeli folk dance classes on Thursdays 1:15-3:15 p.m. were able to resume the third week in January. Both classes will now be held at Herman Son’s Hall, 860 Western Avenue, in Petaluma. As always, we’ll be doing a mix of beginning, intermediate and advanced dances – and requests are always welcome. It’s always fun and interesting to see what folks come up with; recent requests on Monday have included Bannielou Lamboal (France), Cetvorno Horo (Bulgaria), and Joc in Patru (Romania). On Thursdays, we've been reviewing Lev Patuach, Harmonica, and Shav Al Admati.

 I’m also continuing to introduce dances that I have choreographed, including one to beautiful Ukrainian music by Kitka (
Oj, jak ze bulo) and a lovely simple dance Kenyan music (Kothbiro).

And a heads up that the wonderful vocal ensemble Kitka will be performing in my neck of the woods on Saturday, May 20, at the Dance Palace Community Center in Point Reyes Station – be sure to mark your calendars for this special event.

I continue to teach one Balkan/International Zoom class, noting that it is now scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month from 7-8:15 p.m. 

Newcomers and visitors are always welcome to join any of these classes; for more information, contact me at 415-663-9512 or

Monday, January 2, 2023

Balkan and Israeli folk dance classes will be starting up again in the first week of January 2023, and both classes will now be held at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western, Petaluma.

Balkan/International class will be on Mondays 7-9 p.m. First session is January 9-April 24; second session runs from May 1-July 13 (no classes on May 29 or July 3). Requests are always welcome. We'll continue to review and dance Stamena (Bulgaria) and Hora Anton Pann (Romania), and I'll also be introducing two new dances I have choreographed done to music from Ukraine.

Israeli folk dancing will start on January 12 and run through March 8; second session will be March 1-April 27. The first hour of this class is beginning/intermediate dancing; second hour will be intermediate and advanced dances, with lots of time for requests. I'll be teaching a (new to me) Avak Hadrachim, a lovely waltz as well as introducing a dance I choreographed to a wild and fun version of Adon Olam.

Beginners, newcomers and drop-ins are always welcome. Please feel free to contact me for more information at

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

                                                     Fun time dancing at the Officers' Ball!

Balkan/International folk dancing continues Herman Son's Hall in Petaluma on Mondays, 7-9 p.m. through December 12 (note: no class on December 5). Current favorites include Kune, Brestacka Racenica, and Nyandolo.

Israeli folk dancing at Marin JCC on Thursdays 1:30-3:30 p.m. runs through December 6. We've been learning Or Veyershalyim, and resurrecting some oldies including Hora Or and David Melech Yisroel. Note that as on January, this class will be moving to Herman Son's Hall (same day, same time.

Wishing you all a happy healthy holiday season, with lots of friends, food, celebration and dancing!

Friday, October 21, 2022

2022 Officers Ball Syllabus

I'm pleased and excited to be a guest teacher again at the 2022 Officers' Ball on Saturday, October 22, 1-10 p.m. I'll be teaching Cicovata (Bulgaria) and introducing Nyandolo (a lovely easy dance to music from Kenya).

Here are the dance notes for you:




This dance is a multifigure variation on the dance Cicovoto (or Cicovo), apparently from the Vidin area of North Bulgaria. It was taught by Steve Kotansky based on how the Bulgarian community in the St. Louis Area did the dance. Other versions have been taught by Yves Moreau, Yulian Yordanov and Iliana Bozhanova. I have chosen three variations to teach that I like (there are many others).


To R, Facing C, Arms W, 12-count phrases



1-6: Step R to R, XLB, R, XLF, R, XLB (6-step grapevine)

7-8: Step R to R, tch L

9-12: To L: Step L, together R, step L, tch R


Variation #1 – Lift step

1-6: Step R to R, XLB, R, XLF, R, XLB (6-step grapevine)

7-8: Lift R circling to step LB

9-12: To L: Step L, XRF, step L, tch R


Variation #2 – Back & Front

1-4 Step R to R, XLB, R, XLF

4-12: Step RF, L in place, RB, L in place; repeat all


Variation #3 – Around the world

1-4: Step R to R, XLB, R, XLF

5-8: Lift XRF to L, step R, step LB, step RB

9-12: Lift step XLB, step R, step L




Taught by France Borque-Moreau, who learned it from Michel Hepp in Germany. The song is sung in the Kisa language by Ayub Ogada.


4/4 rhythm

Arms: V

Closed circle

Intro: 8 bars; start with singing


Face C, to R:

Sway R to R

Sway L to L

Sway R to R

Close L next to R


Questions or more information:

Carol Friedman: