Folk dance has a quality that I have never seen in other forms of dance, a warmth about it that is unrivalled. It’s in the togetherness of the group when they are dancing: the shared smiles and big laughs and the physical connection of holding hands in a circle or clinging on for dear life as you buzz yourself dizzy. It’s the pure joy of moving with beautiful music and moving with beautiful people. We have been so lucky to experience this togetherness and this joy through Folk Dance Canberra. And we want to share it.
In Australia, folk dance is never really associated with teenagers. It can be seen as too slow or boring and a lot of people just don’t know about it. But folk dance can be so much fun! Israeli dances with graceful turns and leaps, Bulgarian dances with footwork so fast that it leaves you exhilarated and breathless, South American dances with sass and sway, and rhythmic Pacific Islander dances where you feel strong and powerful. Folk dance has been a part of how we have grown up – we’ve gained so much from it and it’s still giving us so much! And the great thing about how dance is taught here at FDC is that there is no pressure at all, and the classes are purely for the joy of dance. I know a lot of teenagers who have done ballet, and said that they hated it. I’m sure they love dancing, but the pressure is awful and it ruined whatever joy they felt. Folk dance isn’t like that.
So this is why we wanted to teach our own class specifically for teenagers. And it’s been really rewarding. Although most of our classes have been very small, there has always been a lightness and energy in the room that leaves your heart soaring a little afterwards. We’ve done a variety of dances, from Israel, the Pacific Islands, South America, Bulgaria, Romania, the USA, Germany, England, India and more! We generally do dances that are energetic and fun, and we’ve been keeping the dances fairly simple. One person who came to the classes told us that they had never realised how awesome international folk dance was, and how there were so many rich stories behind the dances and they were so timeless as well. We also were lucky enough to have someone join our class who is Colombian and has done Colombian dancing before. We were teaching a Colombian dance the day that she first came, and it was the most exciting thing to hear that she was from Colombia and to watch her do the dance so beautifully in the Colombian style. We have learned from her, and it’s so great that our class gave her a chance to do a dance from Colombia.
We are so glad that we started up our teenage world dance classes. It has been so rewarding to directly share something that has been a big part of our lives and given us so much joy, with other people. Hopefully, some day many Australian teenagers will experience the joy of folk dancing.