BATON ROUGE INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
This newsletter is a little late and that has given just enough time to test out that good ole summertime heat. And yes it is officially summer now but it feels like old man summer infringed on the last cool days of spring this year. However for those of us in the know about Louisiana summer time weather, we know that although the actual temperature has been in the 90’s and above, the humidity has actually been low because of the lingering drought so when the wind blows you can still feel a cool tinge. But alas the real summertime weather is about to make its stand and it won’t be long before that cool breeze will give way to that hot blowtorch feeling. So get ready for the real summer, it is coming and the July 4th holiday is just around the corner.
It has been a typical kind of beginning of the year for BRIFD although some things have been different. We still miss having our long time faculty supporter Dr. Terry Worthy around for us but have been managing ok considering. And the wonderful and spacious dance floor in the Huey P. Long Field House studio has been great as always as has been our favorite LSU Plant Operations person, Rhonda, who dutifully turns the air conditioning back on when the computer shuts it off at 8 PM sharp every Friday night. Thank you Rhonda!
Our highlight of spring, as always, was the annual pilgrimage to the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival and this year was a special one. But then again each year seems to be special for something. But this year’s performance and folk dancing was very special (and sad) because it was the first time for most of us who have been going to the festival (almost 20 years now) that we were without Dick Crum. Dick passed away before the festival. Dick and his special dress had been a visible fixture of the festival and in recent years he took to staying at the same hotel we stayed at so we became even closer to him. To celebrate Dick’s life and his huge contribution to international folk dance, the Karpaty Folk Ensemble gave an encore performance of Vonnie Brown’s special Croatian chorography that is one of our all time favorites. Called “Circling and Shaking ‘Round Croatia” it celebrates the Croatian folk dances that Dick made famous and had taught virtually around the world. For many of us Dick put Croatia on the map for we had no idea where Croatia was before we learned Dick’s dances. Now they will forever hold a special meaning for us.
The San Antonio Folk Dance Festival featured Yves Moreau this year who taught several new Bulgarian dances that, with the help of Jim Burke, we were able to get music and dance descriptions for and reteach in Baton Rouge. Attending with Yves was his wife France Bourque-Moreau who taught a teacher’s workshop during the festival.
Yves also received the 2006 National Folk Dance Award and Vonnie wrote and read a testimonial to Yves that was so thorough that Yves asked if he really did all those things! Also teaching this year were Mihai David for Romanian and George Fogg with English dances and Stew Shacklette with contras and squares. And after many years of holding the festival at San Antonio College, the festival this year was moved to the historic replica San Antonio village, La Villita. La Villita is located along the Riverwalk and was a unique venue for the festival. One other special feature for this year was the Saturday night party at Demos Greek Restaurant. A large crowd attended and danced into the night to live folk dance music thanks to a folk band from Austin. This year’s festival was the 48th so we are only two years away from a half-century of the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival! Viva San Antonio!
We have had several memorable party nights already this year as well as fun dancing and dancers every Friday night. We were very pleased to see the lively couple of Steve and Coco Collins who come over to dance with us from Coco’s place in Denham Springs when they have time. Steve and Coco lost their home in Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina but are slowly putting their lives back together and we are all cheering them on. Steve is an accomplished musician and when he comes he provides us with some great live music from a diverse array of instruments. Most recently he played a lesnoto for us with his flute and a special Irish Waltz with his Irish bagpipe. Steve and Coco also inform us they will be touring Macedonia and Bulgaria this summer so we will anxiously await their folk stories when they return.
And also sadly we had to say good by to our resident Turk Zeki Bahadir who after much deliberation decided to return to Turkey. We have had many fun times dancing with Zeki over the years he was in Baton Rouge and hope he will come back sometime to dance with us again! Not long after retuning from San Antonio this year, Vonnie Brown, and Jim and Idabelle Burke attended the 2006 version of the Louisiana Czech Heritage Festival. Held in Libuse, Louisiana, which is near Alexandria, the festival offers a unique glimpse into Louisiana’s Czech heritage. Attending the Czech Festival this year was Jitka Bonusova and partner Vladimir Tomasek from the Czech Republic. Several BRIFD dances had taken a folk tour with Jitka to Prague and the Czech Republic a few years back. Vonnie brought Jitka and Vladimir back to Baton Rouge and entertained them for a few days so we know they had a good time.
We were also glad to see long time dancer Alice Hamilton come dancing with us this year. Alice has been one of our long time Hungarian folk dancers and we plan on seeing a lot more of her on Friday nights. Also welcome to newcomers, Ann Rivers and Lisa Gibbs who have been regulars this spring. And we would like to acknowledge the retirement of long time New Orleans’ folk dancer, Lita Pinter, who recently retired after many years teaching at the University of New Orleans. There was an interesting story on Lita’s retirement in the recent edition of the Texas International Folk Dancers newsletter.
And so spring is over and summer is upon us. But it too will be over before we know it so let’s plan carefully and prepare for the fall! To that end the following schedule is put forth:
The last Friday night folk dance of the summer will literally be the last day of June, which is June 30. So it will be a special PARTY NIGHT that you will not want to miss. Let’s all make a special effort to make this the largest dance crowd of the year!! Bring your good food and drink for the potluck and be prepared to dance the night away since we will not be folk dancing during all of July and August.
So as to not completely stop dancing during the summer, there will be plans to meet out at the American Legion Hall to do some Cajun Dancing. No specific plans are available now but there will be some calls or two made by those still in town to get a group together for selected Friday nights. So just come on over on Friday nights and chances are there will be some BRIFD dancers there.
BRIFD Friday night dancing will resume on Friday, September 8, the traditional first Friday after Labor Day.
And also in keeping with tradition, the annual fall back to dancing fish fry will be on Saturday, September 9th. We will once again be the guests of Anita and Bruce Evans at their beautiful backyard and gardens on 1674 Glenmore Avenue. The fish will be provided as always and Bruce informs me he has some big slabs of amberjack so my mouth is watering already. Bring your usual potluck goodies of veggies, snacks, desserts and any food you specialize in. We always get excited over some new dishes. Please bring your drinks also. We are crossing our fingers and knocking on wood that some evil monster does not well up out of the Gulf this year and try to crash our party. I am banking on the idea that the law of probability is on our side but only time will tell. Just come anyway!
So go forth and have a good summer and be safe in all your travels. We need you all back in September! And don’t forget to keep up with BRIFD through our website: www.brifd.homestead.com/index.html. Webmaster Bill Leblanc has done us well by the website and deserves our gratitude as always. If you have anything for Bill to put on the website email him at Karpatyguy@aol.com.
And so that is all folks! Enjoy your summer and the fireworks of Independence Day. Take time to give thanks for the good ole USA.