We are now deep into our 25th year and have enjoyed many celebrations. Hopefully you have been to and survived these special events. I also hope that you are revved up to the final big event of the year. The arrival of Tineke van Geel for her Armenian workshops over the week-end 27 – 28 October. An event not to be missed. Hope to see you there!
Tineke will be visiting Canberra and Sydney before flying to Perth, so hopefully she will be relaxed, over any jet-lag and in a good Aussie frame of mind when she arrives in Perth. She has not visited Australia before so come and say ‘hello’ and help her over any culture shock.
Generally I feel that our Jubilee year celebrations have gone well. Following on from our ‘old dances revisited’ theme earlier in the year the Monday night teaching has also focussed on some older dances with Saeynu, Hora de la Adunati, and Floricica being taught by Eve in the last couple of months.
In this issue we focus on some traveller’s tales. From Gisela Gmeinder who chased the Victorian snow in the winter, from Laurel de Vietri, who sent us another dispatch from France, and from Palenque Blair who attended the Yves Moreau workshops and later attended a Folk Dance Teacher training workshop in Canberra. On behalf of the Group I would like to thank Palenque for her effort here, even if it may mean that we get more exercise as a result of the more focused teaching!!
Talking of travellers we heard from Pam Massey recently. She emailed us from the Cook Islands in the Pacific. We had been getting long updates on her travels headed Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc. Apparently Chapter 3 got lost in the ether and her last email was a sorry ten-liner talking of paradise! We missed out on some good reading but really holidays should be about enjoying yourself not being hunched over a keyboard!
Martin Williams - President
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The Folk Dance Australia – Folkdance Teacher Training Course - by Palenque Blair
Having been in Canberra exactly one month earlier at the Yves Moreau workshops, I headed off to Canberra again in July for a seven day teacher training course that was supposed to make me a brilliant and confidant teacher of International Folkdance! The course was originally modelled on the design of a similar course taught in Holland to invited participants, who train for two years on a part-time basis. The demand being less in Australia, the course is open to all who care to participate (and can take the time and money to get to Canberra!). On arrival in misty, overcast Canberra – which it stayed all week – my hosts Michaela and Michael very kindly met me at the airport. I had one day free – in which I saw some of the National Park surrounding Canberra and walked along muddy tracks in Eucalypt woodland with smatterings of snow. The animal prints in the several-day-old fallen snow were the most exotic! We even managed to take a snowball home on the windscreen for Michaela’s kids Edward and Harriet.
Next day the course began. I met the participants: Mary, tango dancer Suzanne and Michaela (all from Canberra), Krista from Hobart, Jeanette and Fiona from New South Wales. Also present was Fiona’s husband Paul and of course the teachers. Course coordinator was Lesley Rose – a Canberra resident, and member of Folk Dance Canberra and Folk Dance Australia. She was supported by Christine and Jim Battison – a long-serving folkdance couple and founders of Folk Dance Canberra. Christine had run previous teacher training courses since the reins had been handed over from André Van de Plas, but her main role for our course was to organise morning and afternoon tea everyday. Christine and Lesley had both recently returned from Romania and Holland where they had participated in dance workshops, experienced ethnic cultures and learnt many dances. During the week we heard much about the experience – including watching some video and photos at an evening at Christine’s house.
The course itself involved dancing every day, and theory (approximately half and half I guess). Specialist teachers were brought in for many of the lessons – including music theory, theory of learning, lesson preparation etc. Dance and music analysis were taught by Jim Battison whose career was electrical systems analysis and hobby dance analysis and notation, particularly using a notation system known as Romanotation (and not surprisingly sourced from Romania and particularly adapted for notating Romanian dances!). We enjoyed ourselves, and the collection of challenging dances presented to us, although confidence and smiles certainly melted when the video recorder came out.
Each of the students was given the opportunity to teach to a group of 15-30 Folk Dance Canberra “Guinea Pigs” twice during the week. The group being generally on the over 50 side, we all learnt the simple dances taught by each student teacher. The most challenging dance to my mind being a Bulgarian dance taught with a latin hip swing and rhythm, although probably most challenging for the “guinea pigs” was the “Basic 8 Tango”. One innovation that was new to me involved a couple of easy dances taught by Krista (of Finnish extraction I believe, or was it Norwegian?) that she had created herself. One called “Kiss of the Ancients” had an environmental story to it and was apparently created for performance at a protest event!
Mid-week, to increase my folkdance experience in Canberra, Michaela, Edward, Mary and I went to the Canberra International Folk Dance Association (CIFDA) dance evening. The group was very small, but friendly, with several grand-kids along with the attendees, it being school holidays. (Oh, and it cost $8!). The group organised itself by a formal roster for members as teachers, DJ, tea and supper organiser and hall-openers, which didn’t leave more than that many again to relax! I do think that PIFDG has got the best Folkdance group in the country, although maybe FDC’s hall has something to be said for its size and airconditioning!
Well, apart from major doses of colds going around the group (of which I was unfortunately the first and hardest-hit casualty, coming down with it after one day in Canberra! – so much for holiday leave!). The symptoms were partly soothed by Paul’s efforts consisting of plying me with endless lemon-honey drinks – which I greatly appreciated. An interesting and not always appreciated aspect of Paul’s presence, is that he became the handyman for the week, and spent at least half the week up ladders around the room, repainting the hall (phooee!). I’m not quite sure what was wrong with the original colour, although it certainly wasn’t as bright as our kindy-themed hall.
The week ended with a party on the Saturday night when Mary’s husband Nick brought his band who were practicing their Macedonian music (their favourite!). We did a lot of dancing, including several of those taught by students during the week and half a dozen to live music. I lead An Dro to the band’s music. More biscuits and cakes later and the group thinned out. Finally Jim Battison (always dancing in his opanke shoes) put on as many energetic (and mostly unknown Balkan) dances as he could think of to try and wear me out – which really it didn’t take much, particularly as I had a lovely 6am flight to catch to Melbourne the next morning!
Tony, Laurel, Gabrielle and Raphaël have recently returned from dancing festivals and workshops in France. Tony’s favourite workshops seemed to be the Minuet and Mazurka ones and Laurel branched out a bit from the French workshops to do some dancing from Catalonia. However, the French dance workshops had a strong pull and she could not resist the Breton workshops and balls. She and Gabrielle learnt an ‘Avant deux’ or two from Poitou and some dances of Béarn and other Gascogne regions. Raphaël some fancy waltz workshops and helped out with the zydeco workshops. They all met up with Yves Paliern who camped right beside them and exchanged notes about Perth International Folk Dance Group. Yves seemed to be camping with a large group of women!
At the St Chartier festival in Berry everyone sat in the rain and cold to see incredible concerts that were well worth the discomfort - Italian music, Celtic bands and many a hurdy-gurdy and cornemuse player on stage. Tony walked for kilometres every day and enjoyed the French countryside while Laurel, Gabrielle and Raphaël spent too many late nights at the ‘bals folk’ to be interested in such things. Raph’s average bedtime was 4am!
At the Grand Bal de L’Europe festival held on a farm near Gennetines the cows seemed to have no concern about catching La Vache Folle (mad cow disease) or La Fievre Aphteuse (foot and mouth), nor did the ‘festivaliers’ who ate the local beef each day. The rain continued but the festive spirit could not be dampened and the entertainment was superb with amazing German, Slovakian, Irish , French and other performances, The workshops were, as usual, of the highest quality as far as teaching was concerned and each attracted hundreds of participants, with 12 workshops going at once.
For Laurel and Raphaël, the week long course of bourrée in the Auvergne called Les Volcaniques conducted by ‘Les Brayauds’ was the most rewarding. Raphaël was able to play with the band members and his accordion playing was given a great boost. All the well known French folk musicians gathered there to play for concerts and balls which were held each night and they mingled with the dancers along with children who were also learning to play and dance. The children taught Raphaël some French songs, the words of which are a well kept secret from mum!
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The completion of a work contract and the looming threat of loosing frequent flyer points due to their expiry led to a couple of weeks “over east” recently. In addition, after many years of living in WA, I finally wanted to see the “Australian Alps” and “Australian Snow”since I was fairly familiar with the Austrian variety. And indeeed there was plenty of it to be found in the Perisher Blue/Guthega (NSW) and Mt. Hotham/Falls Creek (Vic) where I quickly got over the strange look of snowgums (instead of fir/pinetrees) and enjoyed 3 days to their full lengths on skis. It left me wanting more but that had to be enough for this season.
Passing through Melbourne/Canberra/Sydney gave me an opportunity to visit a Folk dance Group in each place.
The Melbourne Group met in the Suburb of Box Hill in a very small building, used for teaching ballet and other dance forms, situated on a wide median strip of a highway – and unfortunately often being mistaken for conveniences from a distance by passers by! The female group was small and friendly, mainly drawing from a repertoire of dances from André’s workshops.
Next was Canberra where Michaela Hill introduced me to the Monday class not far from her house (nothing is really very far in Canberra – especially in comparison to Melbourne, or worse, Sydney!!) The Group was still alive with dances that Yves Moreau had taught just recently, and again was very welcoming and mixed, with two men participating.
Finally off to Sydney and there the theme was definitely Bulgarian!! No wonder considering that the leader Chris Wild and two other participants that night, Jo and Bridget, had been part of our group tour to Bulgaria with Belcho Stanev in 1997. Ray and Deirdre Kidd also joined the group for part of the night. We all remember their talented poetry and rhyme presented in Bulgaria as part of our farewell “concert”. They kindly hosted me while I was in Sydney and they send their regards to our Perth Group which they visited about this time last year, including a trip to the local Araluen Folk Festival. Deidre is very interested in joining a group from Australia (organised by Christine Battison from Canberra) for a folk seminar in Romania next year. Perhaps this may also attract participants from Perth!
All Groups that I visited graciously accepted me as a guest and in this connection made me feel more at home in all the places. Yet it was good to be “home” again too and recognising the strength of numbers and enthusiasm of our own Group in Perth. And yes it is just 15 minutes ‘up the road’ without incurring bridge tolls, missing the last bus, greedy parking meters and other small inconveniences.
Thank you to all the Groups, Michaela, Ray and Deirdre and John Whaite who provided some initial contacts.
Notice of AGM
The Group's Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 26 November at St Margaret's Hall, starting at 8:30 after teaching. Members are invited to come along and vote for the 2002 Committee.
Recent Monday Night Teachings
Sylivrianos Syrtos Greece
Chaj Zibede Albania
Varnenski Predsvatben Bulgaria
Vidinsko Horo Bulgaria
An Dro Retourne Brittany
Hora pe Bataie Romania
Dospatsko Horo Bulgaria
Krki Krici Ticek Croatia
Hora De la Adunatii Romania
Moj Dragane Croatia
Nigun Shel Yossi Israel
Horlepiep Hopsa Holland
Two more photos from our collection
Pam and Martin Williams after the last Dance Week performance:
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and at the Ethiopian Restaurant after the 25th party