Time is marching on for 2005 and we are already feeling the heat of Louisiana summertime.  The winter was originally thought to be a mild one but come spring temperatures in the 40’s lingered into April and I did not feel the need to tune up and turn on the air conditioner until the first week of May.  Of course, I have had it up and running ever since. And already been dealing with AC problems. First the water tray under the evaporator filled up and the float valve shut the system down and then shortly thereafter the batteries died in the thermostat and shut the system down again! Until such things happen, you forget how hot it can get in your house without a working system.  We also had some early heavy rains but that was followed by some drought like conditions. Conditions now seem to be indicating it will be a normal summer with typical afternoon showers leading to steamy evenings and nights. Will be nice for some normal weather for a change but alas it is also hurricane season and that there is no such thing as a normal hurricane. Through it all, Baton Rouge folk dance has carried on into the first half of the year and is poised to take on the summer.

This newsletter forgot to mention one special activity that BRIFD dances experienced last year. On September 17 of 2004, a special performance of the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi performed at the LSU Union.  Most of us had heard the term whirling dervishes but few knew much about them.  The performance was brought to our attention by Zeki Bahadir who helped get us group tickets.  The dervishes performance was direct from Turkey and included an excellent live orchestra playing Turkish music to accompany the dances and to entertain us during intermission.  The Whirling Dervishes have an interesting history and date back in time and are considered one branch of the Sufi tradition of Islam.

The BRIFD and Karpaty dancers once again participated and performed at the San Antonio College Nelda Guerrero Drury Folk Dance Festival.  This year’s festival was the 47th and was held March 11th through the 12th.   The festival featured Miroslav Marcetic teaching Serbian dances and Germain Hebert teaching French.  As a special feature of this year’s concert, the Serbian Dance Ensemble “Beta Marcetic” directed by Miroslav Marcetic performed both Friday night and during both halves of the Saturday night concert.  Composed of 40 Serbian musicians and dancers from the Toronto Serbian community, the ensemble “completely energized” the festival with Serbian music and dance.

An equally memorable part of this year’s San Antonio Festival was the recognition of Germain Hebert with the 2005 National Folk Dance Award.  To further honor Germain, Karpaty performed a medley of French Bourees and participated in the presentation of his award while still in our Bouree costumes.  The medley had been choreographed by Vonnie Brown several years ago and many of the Karpaty dancers participating in the performance had previously performed the dances.  Karpaty also presented Germain with a special “remembrance” copy of the dance program and syllabus from his workshop titled “Fete Francaise” that was held at LSU in Baton Rouge in 1976 where many of us first learned how to dance French Bourees!  All in all it was another time to remember for Karpaty and BRIFD at the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival.  Each year just seems to better than the year before.  A special recognition is given to Bruce Evans who outdid himself this year by videoing the performance and copying it with sound to a DVD and then adding a series of digital stills to the DVD at the end of the video. Wow, thanks Bruce!

Among activities for BRIFD was a special birthday party on April 9 for Mary Irving. Seems husband Steve reserved Chicago’s Restaurant and even hired a band to provide live music.  I wasn’t able to make it but am sure there must have been some dancing going on.  Also BRIFD dancer and artist Jim Burke held an opening reception for his latest artistic work at the Baton Rouge Gallery on May 4th.  Several BRIFD dancers and friends showed up to give Jim’s work the critical once over.  It was also a family affair for Jim with wife Idabelle and son Chris and family.  Although there were other artists displaying their work, Jim’s three framed colorful exhibits caught the most eyes and the eye of the Advocate art critic who rightfully pronounced Jim on of the best artists in Baton Rouge.  We are still trying to find the others.

Another special event for BRIFD dancers this spring was a performance by the Brigham Young University International Folk Dance Ensemble on May 7th at the LSU Union Theatre.  Their repertoire included dances from the USA and United Kingdom as well as Israel, India, Korea, Ukraine and Hungary.  It was hard to find the one dance that stood out but the Irish medley of jigs and hard shoe dances reminiscent of RiverDance were show stealers as were the Rapper Sword Dance, Hungarian bottle dance and verbunk and their signature dance from the Ukraine.  Prior to the BYU performance, BRIFD dancers got in the mood with some good Greek/Lebanese cuisine at Roman’s Restaurant. As a finishing touch to the evening, Vonnie introduced everyone to the Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Edwin Austin.

An article in the recent volume of the Texas International Folk Dancers (TIFD) News gives an interesting story of the Czech community in Libuse, Louisiana.  Some of us have seen these Louisiana Czechs dance at festivals in years past and the article gives an overview of their history.  The complete article should be on the website tifd.org.  Also included in this addition of the TIFD news is an article by Vonnie Brown on Germain Hebert receiving the folk dance award at the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival.

One other item of local importance to BRIFD dancers is the announcement that the location of the Friday night dances of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Cajun French Music Association has moved.  The new location is the American Legion Hall at 151 South Wooddale Blvd., which is one block from Florida Blvd.  The new location is closer to Baton Rouge and will be more convenient for many dancers.  The move is effective for the July 8th dance.  No doubt BRIFD dancers will be taking advantage of the new location especially Rey Del Castillo who still assists Roland Ducet in teaching Cajun Dance through the LSU Union Leisure Class Program. 

The dance schedule for BRIFD activities for the summer is as follows:

The last Friday Night Dance for the summer will be June 17.  It will be a party night so everyone plan on coming out to say happy summer to your BRIFD fellow dancers and catch up on their summer plans.

BRIFD Friday night dancing will resume on Friday, September 9th. (Postponed due to Katrina, check back for updates)

The annual not to be missed Fish Fry will be on Saturday, September 10th at the home and garden of Anita and Bruce Evans 1674 Glenmore. Once again we will put on a classic back to fall and end of summer extravaganza complete with all the trimmings. But as always, we rely on everyone to bring some of those potluck goodies of salads, desserts and entrees that go with the fish. Also bring your own drinks.  This event is a BRIFD signature event so don’t miss it!

And that’s it for this half of 2005.  Everyone have a fun summer and be sure and get some dancing in so you won’t be too rusty when we start up in the fall.  And remember you can keep up with BRIFD through our website at www.brifd.homestead.com  . Webmaster Bill LeBlanc continues to deserve out thanks for keeping the site up and running. If you have anything you think would be useful for the website email Bill at Karpatyguy@aol.com

Happy summer to all!