Arizona is host to much cultural activity from Scottsdale’s art galleries to Tucson’s Opera. From many varieties of museums everywhere to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. From Tucson’s Irish step dancers to the Phoenix Ballet and Ballet Arizona. But, one very colorful multi-cultural activity is reserved just for folks like you. Anyone can participate at any age with or without a partner.
International Folk Dancing is alive and very well all over Arizona from the high country of Prescott to the Southern Sonoran Desert Country of Green Valley and the in-between places of Tucson and Phoenix. In Green Valley on any Sunday afternoon, you will find them dancing:
On most Sunday afternoons you will also find them dancing in Prescott:
And once a year (this year it was St. Patrick’s Day) on a Sunday you will find many of these faces joined with those from the Tucson International Folk Dancers and the Phoenix International Folk Dancers at the annual Phoenix Folk Dance Festival. Held in recent years at the Shepard of the Valley Church in Glendale, this event is faithfully attended by International Folk Dancers from all over Arizona.
Einstein said it: “Dance for your brain!” And it’s true! Dancing makes you smarter as evidenced by many studies: “Dancing Makes You Smarter, Longer. … A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages,” Richard Powers.
While International Dancers know this, that’s not the reason they participate and attend gatherings like the one in Phoenix. They do it for the fun, friendship and food. Yes, dancers love to eat and their love of everything ethnic contributes to some very yummy potlucks. It is also great physical exercise and dancing is often recommended by doctors as a way to stay fit. Folk dancing is an easy way to get that exercise because to quote this teacher: “If you can walk, you can folk dance.”
And dance they did starting with, what else, Pot Of Gold:
And the dancing continued:
Dancers from Phoenix:
Sometimes they would take a break and visit for short periods but never for long:
Dancers from Green Valley (top 2) and Tucson:
There are always dance performances at this event between dance sets. This year the Tucson International Dancers gave a performance of 6 Romanian dances with Romanian cheers singing throughout their performance. They were excellent and danced with great enthusiasm allowing everyone attending to truly enjoy their dancing:
For the second performance of the day, the Phoenix Serbian Dancers youth divisions performed admirably. They were also adorable at both age levels:
Note all the wonderful costuming. Some of it is authentic from the many countries represented. Some of it is authentic imitation made by the creative hands of the wearers who tend to every detail to ensure authenticity. Represented here are several examples of both:
The Wild Cossack makes his own costuming that is different each year:
Joan has new red boots this year to compliment her Polish ensemble:
Karen (Tucson) is one of the Romanian dancers in costume from that country. Dick (Prescott) appears to be similarly clad although he usually dances in Serbian shoes that are leather and have long curled, pointed toes:
Millie (Phoenix) has been dancing with the PIFD so long no one remembers when she started. She is usually dressed in Polish costume:
Dee (Green Valley) varied from her usual, authentic Russian costume this year in this interesting ensemble. Many countries have aprons as part of women’s costumes, and embroidered blouses.
And the leader of this dance is one of the leaders of the Phoenix dancers. She did much to make this event happen.
There are always children present as this is a family activity. This fella was described by his dad as a dancer in training:
We cannot pass up the individual section without mentioning this gentleman. He is Joan’s hubby and did a stellar job of announcing, virtually managing the afternoon’s dance program:
This Phoenix costume was unique:
Note the bright colors which are mostly red, white and black with a smattering of blues thrown in. Red, white and black are the standard colors of the Balkan countries and extend into other surrounding countries that will add blues and even purples. This year there was a lot of green!
The group indulged this author by gathering for a group shot. The full group photo is at the top but there were also some great close-ups of sections of the group:
It was a delightful day even if you were just watching. The weather was perfect as it was not too hot and there was a breeze. Dancers get warm in a hurry. The time was up and many left as there were some long drives home. But the dancing continued with the sounds of the Balkans wafting out through the door as dancers went to their vehicles. If ever you are in Phoenix during March, check with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers on their website or their Facebook page to find out the date for this fun event.
Folk dancers have friends all over the world and while they were not in attendance, we remember our FD friends in Florence, Oregon—the Oregon Coast International Dancers. Miss you and wish you could have been with us!