BATON ROUGE INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
And so it is 2007. It is such an odd sounding year but I guess it does mean we are seven years into the new millennium (or is it 8?) or put another way we are well into the first decade of the 21st Century. Whatever, time is moving on and there is no looking back except for the lingering impacts of things like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita which are still with us. The first day of summer is nearly here and spring will soon be a memory. Actually I thought it was a typical spring, weather wise, with its usual hot and cool spells and with some rainy and dry spells. The spring soon to be summer gardens do look green and productive with fruits, vegetables and flowers all the good for humans and the animals. The ruby throated hummingbirds, native birds, squirrels, fish and butterflies will ride the summer out with us and keep us company along with those treasured plants like crape myrtles that produce such colorful flowers despite the stifling heat we know is coming. After all that is what summer is all about isn’t it?
The year 2007, however, will forever be a sad year for the Baton Rouge International Folk Dancers and the Karpaty Dance Ensemble. For we will always remember it as the year we suffered the untimely loss of Ann Lynn and Chick Colvin, two long time and loved folk dancers. Nothing we do or say will ever explain their loss but we can celebrate their lives and all they meant to our folk dance community. So on Friday nights now we find ourselves seeing Ann Lynn and Chick in the dances we shared with them over the years. Ann Lynn and Chick especially loved Greek Dances since they had spent several years in Greece while Chick worked for Ethyl Corporation. The Greek women’s dance I Gerakina will always be known as Ann Lynn’s dance because she always led it when she danced on Friday nights. And we will always give a chuckle when a certain other Greek dance is played and Ann Lynn would sit down or leave the room. Also although both Ann Lynn and Chick had slowed their dancing recently, they never failed to show their love and support for BRIFD and Karpaty and participated when they could whether it was a regular recreational Friday night dance, a Karpaty practice or performance or the annual fish fry, Oktoberfest performance or Christmas party. Twelve members of BRIFD and Karpaty did make a special $600 donation on behalf of both groups to the Colvin Scholarship for Art at LSU in memory of Ann Lynn and Chick. Several other folk dancers made individual donations. May peace be with you Ann Lynn and Chick. We will always remember you and cherish your memory.
The BRIFD has been busy this winter and spring in preparation for our annual summer break. Back on December 1st, we hosted a Greek Dance Workshop with Joe Graziosi. Thanks go to the Crescent City International Folk Dancers for helping arrange for our Baton Rouge workshop especially Michelle Benoit. The CCIF had previously hosted Joe for a Greek workshop in New Orleans earlier that week. Also thanks to Vonnie Brown for making catchy fliers for the workshop. The workshop was a success with over 30 people participating. Through the workshop, we picked up several new Greek dances for our repertoire. We also had our annual Christmas Party at Roman’s Lebanese Restaurant on December 10 and there was a lot of good holiday cheer as always.
Our favorite activity of the spring, the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival was held this year on March 9-11. Like last year, teaching on Friday and Saturday was at Bolivar Hall in the unique historic replica Texas village, La Villita on the famous San Antonio Riverwalk. Teaching this year was Daniela Ivanova for Bulgarian and Daniel Sandu for Romanian with English Country Dance by George Fogg. However, there was a change this year for the performance. For the first time, the Saturday night folk dance concert was held in the Thiery Auditorium on the campus of Our Lady of the Lake University. And the after performance dance party was also at OLLU at the International Folk Culture Center. So our break with San Antonio College was now complete since no San Antonio Folk Dance Festival activity was held there this year. This was kind of ironic to me since my grandniece, Kirsten (age 7), who had just moved to San Antonio last year and joined a local dance academy just recently participated in her very first dance recital in of all places McAllister Auditorium on the San Antonio College campus! She told me she wanted to get into dancing after seeing Karpaty perform at McAllister Auditorium during past SA Folk Dance Festivals. They say it is a small world and some things come full circle. I guess this adds credence to that.
Karpaty’s performance this year was one of our popular Hungarian choreographies by our favorite Hungarian Andor Czompo. Thanks to Vonnie for reteaching this to us and keeping us in tune through constant practice! It was one of our popular Hungarian choreographies because it contained all the components of Hungarian dance that we love a karikazo, a verbunk and a czardas. The response from the audience was special to us as always and even though we were in a new auditorium the special warmth was the same.
One Baton Rouge folk activity of the spring worthy of note was a special “Mid-City Ceili” sponsored by the Baton Rouge Irish Club held at Opie’s Café on May 20th. Deemed a time to dance, sing, eat and make merry, it was too good to miss and some BRIFD dancers let by Mary Irving did attend. According to Mary it delivered on the good food as well as Irish music and dance. Those sorry they missed it take heart for Mary informs us there will be a second Ceili coming up later this year so look for it!
Among other news, we welcomed two new dancers this year, Steve and Donna Bing who moved to Baton Rouge from Houston. Steve and Donna are accomplished folk dancers and Donna has performed with Houston folk dance groups and Steve is an experienced musician who can master several instruments including Cajun fiddle and accordion. Also joining us this year was Demitra Tsoukatos who drives over to dance with us from Eunice where she moved following Hurricane Katrina. Demitra as her name would imply is partial to Greek dance and keeps Jim Burke busy with reteaches of Joe Graziosi dances. We are also glad to see Carolyn Lee dancing with us again. Carolyn and Alice Hamilton now make a daughter-mother dancing combination during Friday nights.
And we would like to give our special thoughts to Anita Evans who was recently diagnosed with cancer and after undergoing surgery is now at home recovering. According to Bruce Evans, Anita is recovering well and keeping up with her overseer duties with a small army of remodelers working on their home. Life has not been the same on Friday nights without Anita and Bruce who have been an important part of BRIFD and Karpaty for many years. Each night we dedicate special dances to Anita and Bruce and we know just the dances they would like! For starters we would do Hora Fetelor and Melnik and later we would do Dado la Dado and Never on Sunday. And then when Carol Helm would come on Friday, we would do Dance of Ikaria. We know there are several other favorite dances of Anita and Bruce and we do them also. And so we wish Anita a speedy recovery and to know she is in our thoughts and that we also look forward to seeing her and Bruce back on the dance floor.
The last Friday night folk dance for the summer will be this Friday, June 22 and it will be a PARTY NIGHT. We will not be dancing on June 29th. So please set aside the time now and come help end this year’s first half with a bang. The summer will be a long drought of folk dancing so come this Friday to get your fix for the next two months. Bring something special to feed the group and get a big reward in thank yous, good conversation and a dance.
BRIFD Friday night dancing will resume on Friday, September 7th, which is, as always, the first Friday after Labor Day. Put that date on your calendars now and get ready to start the fall of on the right (and left) foot! We will be there so you be there too.
We do plan to have a fish fry this year on the following Saturday, September 8th at a location to be determined. We will notify everyone on the location later this summer.
And so everyone go forth and have a safe summer. Hopefully it will be storm free with some cool breezes every now and then but then this is south Louisiana. And do remember to keep up with BRIFD through our website:
Our webmaster Bill Leblanc continues to do a great job here and we are grateful for his cyberspace expertise. Happy Independence Day also to everyone and be sure and wave those flags proudly.