Friday Night International Folk Dancing
Every Friday evening since 1997, a group of folk dance enthusiasts has been meeting at the Greenbelt Community Center’s dance studio and dancing folk dances from the Balkans, Scandinavia, and many other countries. The dance party starts at 8:30 p.m. with half an hour to 45 minutes of instructions at the beginning of the session. Then it is request dancing until 10:45 p.m. The first Friday of the month is live music night, and these photos are from a live music French dance party on November 30.
The dance instructor tonight is Lynn Baumeister (right) from Takoma Park. She will be teaching bourrees from central France and French versions of mazurka, schottische, and other dances.
On the right is John Robinson, one of four instructors for this Friday night group. The instructors specialize in different dances and they take turns running the program. Robinson specializes in folk dances from the Balkans and tells me afterward that he has a masters degree in Balkan history. He also tells me that this group started in the 1950s at the All Souls Unitarian Church on 16th Street in Northwest D.C. Later they moved to Montgomery County and danced in Wheaton and Olney. The group disbanded in 1994 because they could not find an adequate place and then they heard about the dance studio in Greenbelt after the renovated Community Center opened. The group has been dancing here since February 1997.
Lynn Baumeister teaches the steps for the next dance.
Facing Baumeister is Larry Weiner, another of the four dance instructors for this Friday night group. Weiner is the organizer for tonight’s French dance party.
Tonight is live music night and the band is Bourrasque. It features Paul Oorts (accordion), Karen Ashbrook (flute), Nick Blanton (hammered dulcimer), Andrea Hoag (fiddle), and Leslie Barr (fiddle).
Ben Hole (right) is another of the four instructors of the group. He has taught dance since 1970 and has been an instructor for this group since 1987. He is also the organizer of a monthly Israeli dance party at the Greenbelt Community Center gym upstairs.
A circle dance is starting.
Tonight’s organizer Larry Weiner (right)
Lynn Baumeister starts another dance. Tonight she is teaching bourrees from central France with variations from different regions, mazurka, and schottische. She tells me afterward that the mazurka is originally from Poland and spread to other courts in Europe in the 1800s. There are different versions of the dance in France, Switzerland, and Sweden for example. The schottische also has different versions: French, German, and Spanish. Tonight she is teaching the French versions of these dances. She tells me that she learned many of these dances at the annual Gennetines Festival which is an eight-day-long folk dance festival in France. It features more than a dozen dance tents and people dance late into the night. Baumeister has attended the Gennetines Festival for 11 years.
Larry Weiner introduces the Bourrasque band at the conclusion of the dance party.
The Friday night international folk dancing group meets from 8:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. at the Greenbelt Community Center’s dance studio. Admission is $7 per person on regular nights and $12 on live music nights. Students and seniors receive half-price admission on regular nights. See their schedule here.