BATON ROUGE INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
Welcome to summertime 2011. We have already had practice from a hot June so actually July and August will probably not be hotter only more humid which is usually the way things work out in South Louisiana as the afternoon summertime rain showers become more frequent and heat indices can go over 100. Overall we are behind our time for rain this year but we are not in as much of a drought as western Louisiana and Texas were a combination of water restrictions and wildfires have been all to common. But as long as the air conditioning is working and there’s a roof overhead to block the sun we will survive to dance another day. Maybe we can even have throwback memories of last winter when we had several severe freezes. Remember that!
And so here is some catch up BRIFD news. First we all want to stand up and congratulate Jo and Ed Zganjar who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on December 31. We know these are very special events and are blessed with two such recent celebrations in our group. Idabelle and Jim Burke celebrated their 50th just a few short years ago. Anyway kudos to the Zganjar kids, Cheryl, Leslie, Bryan and Christopher who treated Jo and Ed to a special dinner at Latil’s Landing restaurant on the beautiful grounds of Houmas House Plantation and Gardens. Congratulations again to Jo and Ed. They have certainly earned it.
Also among the folk dance news was the Mardi Gras visit of our popular Bulgarian, Tsveta Spassova. Tsveta in one of our international BRIFD members and she vacations with us from her Bulgarian home whenever she gets the chance. So Mardi Gras 2011 was a good excuse for Tsveta to come dancing with us. She was able to come for a special Friday night on March 4 and we celebrated with all our favorite Bulgarian dances which is a quite lengthy number as we all know! Among notable Bulgarian dances we performed that night were Karamfil, Singing Pravo, Dvasti Triste, Trugnala Rumjana, Vrapceto and of course Tsveta’s signature Bulgarian dance Tsveta Mome (Melnik). Tsveta’s special Friday night dance event was followed with a trip to the New Orleans Mardi Gras with Rey Del Castillo and Dugan Sabins.
A special notice has to be made of the BRIFD participation at the 53rd San Antonio Folk Dance Festival held March 18-20th. There were eight of us who went this year, one of the larger groups in recent years. They included: Jim and Idabelle Burke, Charlene Heaton, Lucille LaBauve, Kim Baker, Janetta Kriel, Rey Del Castillo and Dugan Sabins. And fun we did have with lead teacher Lee Otterholt who some of us had seen at a previous San Antonio FD Festival. Lee originally specialized in Greek dances, even though he is Norwegian, but now teaches a wider repertoire and his teaching is labeled international. Paraliakos is one of our favorites of Lee’s Greek dances. A favorite folk dance from this trip was Hora ca la Mahala a Romanian Gypsy dance. Jim Burke has recently taught it to BRIF Dancers and it is now on its way to being another of Lee’s special Friday night dances.
This year’s San Antonio Folk Dance Festival was a first for Charlene, Lucille and Kim so we pulled out all the stops for them taking in a traditional Friday evening Mexican dinner at Pico de Gallo. We first tried for Mi Tierra at the nearby El Mercado but found that we had timed things with a Spring Break weekend which produced huge crowds everywhere. We did spend 30 minutes walking around the huge El Mercado marketplace so everyone could get a taste of Mexican, Tex-Mex and Texan traditions in clothes and folk art. Dinner at Pico de Gallo was up to the task though and good Mexican food was had by all. A traditional margarita toast was also included which goes back some 25 years to our first trip to the San Antonio FD Festival with our Karpaty Ensemble performance teacher and chorographer, Vonnie Brown. Also at Charlene’s request, we hired our own Mariachi Band to lively things up and it definitely succeeded to do just that with three traditional dinner songs. Also in addition to the folk dance classes which also included Sandy Starkman teaching international and George Fog with English Country Dances, we took in the annual SA FD Festival concert on Saturday night with the title of “World Dance Showcase”. Dances presented at the concert represented the countries of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Germany, Africa, Serbia, Haiti, Hungary, India and Canada. Receiving Folk Dance awards at this year’s festival were Dena Houston from the Texas International Folk Dancers and Bob Leibman for the National Dance Award. And also making an appearance at the concert and at the Sunday lunch bash was SA FD Festival founder Nelda Drury who is still active in her 90’s now. She was pleased to see all her favorite dancers from Louisiana again and the feeling was mutual.
Congratulations to Jacob Irving son of BRIFD dancer Mary Jordan Irving and husband Steve, who recently received his Eagle Scout award. Jacob joins his brother Sam Irving who also is an Eagle Scout. There are few two Eagle Scout households so we give respects to the Irving’s for such an accomplishment. I was fortunate to be invited to both Eagle ceremonies.
BRIFD also would like to regretfully acknowledge the recent loss of two members, Steve and Donna Bing who moved back to Houston. Steve and Donna were Friday night regulars and both performed in Steve’s popular South Louisiana band, the Bayou Hot Shots, which BRIFD dancers’ attended performances of on several occasions. We were always entertained by Steve’s gifted ability with the fiddle and Cajun accordion and Donna on guitar. We hope to dance with them again sometime!
There were some medical concerns recently within the BRIFD dancers and family. After a valiant fight with liver cancer, we lost long time dancer Alice Hamilton. Her Hungarian spirit and lively personality will be missed but not forgotten. Also Rey Del Castillo had to undergo heart by-pass surgery when blockage was found in his heart arteries. The news was sudden for Rey and BRIFD but with good medical treatment, we are glad to note that Rey pulled through the surgery well enough to spend only a few days in the hospital and is now headed for full recovery with both regular supervised exercise and therapy and folk dancing! Also Abigail Helm daughter of BRIFD dancer Carol Helm successfully came through surgery for a benign swelling in her brain and is now dancing again! For both recoveries we are most grateful.
And rounding out BRIFD’s activities for the first half of 2011 was the first Post Folk Dance Summer Fling held July 5 at Roman’s Greek- Lebanese restaurant. A crowd of 15 dancers and family members had a good time reliving the recent events, making summer and fall plans and of course eating good ethnic food. An added reason to celebrate was the recent retirement of Bill LeBlanc and Dugan Sabins who now join other retired BRIFD members with more time to DANCE.
Summer Schedule, July-August
As a result of summer folk dance discussions, it was decided to focus on group Cajun dancing with the CFMA at the UCT Hall on Florida Blvd.at 8 PM on Friday nights July 22, and August 5 & 19. Also Roland Ducet’s Cajun dance class will be going on a class field trip to La Poussiere Cajun Dance Hall in Breaux Bridge on Sunday, July 17. We will be coordinating with Rey Del Castillo on getting together for Cajun dancing so if you are interested in going to one of the Cajun dance group events email him or give him a call the week of at 769-3315. We will probably also send out an email on each event. We have also been invited to participate with David Kirshner for some Israeli dancing on Sunday evening, July 31 from 7-8:30 PM at B’nai Israel Synagogue, 3354 Kleinert Avenue. Charlene Heaton will help coordinate with this event.
Fall Schedule, September
BRIFD Friday night dancing will return for the fall on Friday, September 9 at the usual time, 7:30 PM. Folk dance then continues on the 16th, 23rd and party night on the 30th. Please be aware that the first LSU home football game of the season is scheduled for Saturday the 10th so be prepared for football traffic on campus during home games. Fortunately the next home game is not until October 1 but that will effect on campus traffic on September 30th.
The annual fall BRIFD fish fry will be on Sunday, September 25th at 4:30 PM. The location will again be the spacious and comfy home and yard of Jo and Ed Zganjar at 435 Kenilworth Parkway. Plan on bringing your usual fare of pot luck goodies to go with the fish including salads, veggie dishes, breads, deserts and drinks. And as always to keep up with BRIFD activities go to our website provided by the recently retired Bill LeBlanc at www.brifd.homestead.com/index.html. Have a happy and safe summer everyone and if we don’t see you at Summer Cajun or Israeli dance events then see you in the fall.