BATON ROUGE INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
Those of us who were patiently waiting for 2003 are now wondering what happened to the first half of it? Yep it is already approaching summer and the mid-year mark. Been hot enough lately to forget that we had a fairly cold winter this year. I did not turn my heater off until early May. But BRIFD has been dancing right along after the fresh start for the New Year. We have had some new dancers and the return of some old dancers and some dancers in between. Our goal continues to be to present a regular dance opportunity and get all our dancers to commit their Fridays to folk dancing realizing that there are family commitments from time to time. But we can't succeed without our dancers there on Friday night and it is a wonderful experience when we get a big crowd and a good cross section of new and old, male and female. Friday night parties continue to attract a good crowd and with the food, drink and dance, things click together just right!
There have been some outside dance activities in between our regular Friday nights. Jim and Idabelle Burke passed around an invitation for a first, as far as I can tell, of a German Mardi Gras in Louisiana. It is called Fasching and was billed as a Party and Dance. It was held February 16th at the Grant Street Dance Hall in Lafayette. The music and the invitation came from that popular Texas German Band Alpenfest which has played at the Roberts Cove Octoberfest in years past. Idabelle and Jim did attend and had a fun time reminiscent they said of the tour to Switzerland they went on with Alpenfest a few summers ago and hope to go on again Idabelle adds.
Regular Louisiana Mardi Gras was about as late this year as the complicated calendar for setting Mardi Gras would allow. It was March 4th. Perennial New Orleans Mardi Gras attendee Janetta Kriel probably out partied us all. She was virtually born and raised in New Orleans and knows the ins and outs of having fun during Mardi Gras there. This is not to say that other BRIFD dancers missed out on the fun. Not no way!
The River Road Performance Society, which shares some dancers with BRIFD, continues to offer a unique variety of dance opportunities. On April 27th they held a "Historic Fashion Show" at Magnolia Mound Plantation in Baton Rouge and on May 24th sponsored an 1803 Grand Ball titled, "Louisiana for a Song and a Dance". The latter dance celebrated the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase 1803-2003 and was held in the historic old Louisiana State Capitol also in Baton Rouge. An added significance of having a ball celebrating the Louisiana Purchase at the Old State Capitol is that a rare replica of the Louisiana Purchase document is on display there.
The Karpaty Dancers again this year performed at the 44th annual San Antonio College Folk Dance Festival on March 7-9, which honors founder Nelda Drury. By some count this was the 18th year we have participated, given that our first year was 1986. There is some reason to believe that we skipped a few years in between. However, according to a chronology of dances presented by Karpaty at the festival compiled by artistic director, Vonnie Brown, this year's performance was definitely the 12th since 1992! The dances Karpaty performed on Vonnie's festival chronology are truly impressive and come from Slovakia, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Lebanon and Romania! A Hungarian Suite of dances was performed at the San Antonio Festival this year and was really special for all of us since the suite was originally choreographed for us many years ago by Andor Czompo our favorite Hungarian with whom we have a relationship going back some 20 years or more. The performance of the suite had even more significance because Andor attended the festival and stayed at our hotel. He was very complimentary of our performance and those who heard him give his critique said he was very moved as were they. The pictures we took with Andor in our Hungarian costumes just added to a very special night and will be long remembered.
One other special event this year was Vonnie Brown's Folk and Ballroom Dance Classes End of Semester Dance Party. The party, which is becoming a tradition with the LSU Dance program, was held May 2 this year. In keeping with tradition, there were a variety of party snacks and drinks available to keep the dancers nourished. The dance program, also a tradition, contained a real mix of ballroom and folk and kept everyone busy and attentive so as to not miss a dance they know or want to do. Also in keeping tradition was the Grand March held at number 25 on the dance program card. The program ended with a classic Macedonian lesnoto. BRIFD dancers attending this year were Jim and Idabelle Burke, Bruce and Anita Evans, Rey del Castillo, George Lezu, Leslie Todd, Allen Taylor, Susan Webre and Dugan Sabins.
There are some other activities for the summer that deserve mentioning. From July 3rd to July 14th there will be a "Folklore and Heritage Tour In Slovakia". The program includes a dance seminar in Slovak dance, attendance at the famous Vychodna and Detva Folk Festivals and sightseeing the beautiful Slovak countryside including the Tatra Mountains, a part of the Carpathian Mountain chain, which is the namesake of the Karpaty Dance Ensemble! From past experience with Slovak tours, it will be a unique summer experience well worth the cost. Karpaty Artistic Director Vonnie Brown is the USA contact for the tour. A second exciting happening this summer will be the, "Louisiana Purchase Historic Dance Week" held in New Orleans July 6-12th. An ambitious and exciting program is planned to coincide with the ongoing Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Celebration. There will be streetcar parties, riverboat cruises, dance lessons and balls, of course, staged in unique historic landmark buildings and plantations in the New Orleans area. BRIFD and New Orleans dancer Ralph McDonald is the dance week director and info is available at http://dancevintage.org.
The Schedule for the rest of the spring/summer is as follows:
Friday May 23rd will be party night for May and we will NOT be dancing on the next two Fridays, May 30 and June 6th because of Memorial Day activities.
We will be dancing for the final three Fridays in June the 13th, 20th and 27th. June 27th will be the annual summer blowout party night to close out BRIFD's Spring/Summer 2003 so put that on your calendar now and be there to close the first half of the year out with a bang!
There will be NO dancing in July and August as in previous years as we all partake in the festivities of Summer wherever that may take us! To Slovakia or New Orleans, Ireland or Mamou.
Friday night folk dancing will resume on September 5th following the Labor Day weekend and the much-celebrated Fall BRIFD Fish Fry will be staged on Saturday, September 6th. Once again our hosts will be Anita and Bruce Evans at their comfortable home at 1674 Glenmore. Again we can familiarize ourselves with their enticing swimming pool, and quaint back yard with its deck, gazebo and garden pond. Bruce and Anita's back yard and garden pond have been selected on several occasions to be included Baton Rouge garden tours and we are always honored to be able to have the fish fry in such beautiful surroundings. So need I say don't miss it and get tuned up for the fall dance happenings.
I would also like to remind everyone to use the BRIFD website, www.brifd.homestead.com. Webmaster Bill Leblanc has created and also maintains the website for our benefit. So check in from time to time and tell your friends about it. He will be posting this newsletter on it and putting the dates of events contained in it on the calendar. He can also include other folk dance activities as BRIFD wants or needs. So email your thanks to Bill for providing this for us and email him with any information you want to see on the site.
And in closing, we need to give special thanks to the remarkable recovery of Dale Brown from his recent stroke. Vonnie shared the events of Dale's illness with us and asked for our prayers, which seem to have been answered. In an interview on TV last night, Dale attributed his rapid recovery to the prayers and support of family and friends. I think we all know that family and friends are the most important things in our lives but sometimes we forget. Dale's experience is a reminder to us all. God speed to Dale and Vonnie.