Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dance cliques

One Saturday afternoon in Central Park, when I was in my early 20s and living on the Upper West Side, I came across a group of dancers dancing to this incredible ethnic music. I stood there transfixed for hours and asked where I could learn these dances. The dancers told me of a couple of places where international folk dancing was taught, and I remember learning the dances in a large loft somewhere in Manhattan. I became part of the "in group" of dancers, even progressing to a point where I was going to join a Yugoslavian dance troupe that would dance in the 1984 Olympics - until marriage in 1983 and a move to Toronto put a stop to those plans.

But I loved dancing and even in Canada I danced Israeli dance three times a week. It was enjoyable, though not as diverse music-wise as the international dance scene. I remember, being Orthodox at the time, when one of the male dancers, during the couples' dances (the Orthodox women usually had other women as partners), pulled me over to dance with him, and I heard gasps from the other dancers..."but she's religious!" I felt like I was one of the characters in Fiddler on the Roof, when one of the secular son-in-laws of Tevye's daughters pulls the mother or the wife in to dance with him at a wedding amid gasps from the others.

When I moved to Israel, in my 40s, my neck wouldn't cooperate with me and the osteopath told me the impact of my dancing is probably what caused the pain.

So I was quite happy to be invited by a friend to Greek dancing in Jerusalem. The evenings are cool and I know from international dancing that there is not quite as much running and jumping in Greek dance. I told my friend who had been dancing for 5 years that I'll figure out the steps quite easily. There's much repetition and I know the rhythms of Greek/Balkan music. I pretty much followed along, not stepping on anyone's toes, and felt so happy to be dancing again, feeling that my legs were getting a good workout. It was someone's birthday and there was a huge spread of salads, pita, wine and ouzo, even eclairs, which were tempting but what is the point of a workout when you stuff yourself with those things!

One guy came over to me. "You need to come at 6:30 to learn the dances, this way you can be part of the circle and won't throw people off."


"I wasn't throwing anyone off. Didn't you see that I knew the steps to the last dance?"

I had seen the same guy dancing next to another new woman who didn't know the steps at all, but he held onto her anyway. Did he tell her the same thing?

"This way, no one will be under pressure," he continued.

Greek dancing puts people under pressure?

"I wasn't under any pressure!" I told him. The guy was pissing me off.

There were about 5 dances that had more intricate steps and I followed in back of the circle, just to be polite, but people can get really antsy about newcomers. Even my friend remarked that she even thought she had been dancing 5 years already, no one ever bothered to celebrate her birthday there.

"They can get pretty cliquey here," she informed me.

Well, I can remedy that and invited another friend to join me next time, and maybe she'll invite one of her friends. And we'll make our own clique of newcomers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another post, please! You're the funniest blogger out there!