Thursdays are filled with laughter and multiple playful steps to music from all over the world. By 10:00 a.m. Gloria Swanson and Norma Jamieson are surrounded by friends at the Mid-County Senior Center ready to have fun.
These women have partnered together as the official Activity Leaders for the International Folk Dance group who meet at 829 Bay Avenue, Capitola every week. It is well know that members are never ready to leave at the 11:30 appointed finish time! Many have favorite dances they request each week, and all enjoy trying a new dance. Sometimes people come from other cities and bring their own requests in hand, often carrying their own music via cassette and now iPods.
Over their lifetimes the two dancers hold over thousands of hours of dancing memories throughout the world. That’s really not surprising when The IDO’s International Dance Organizations’ President travels the world promoting memberships. They are currently expanding very rapidly in Australia and Asia. There are prestigious IDO Championships and Cups to compete for and the leadership is encouraging growth in Malaysia and New Zealand. It is a pass time that is increasingly popular with seniors throughout the world.
Norma admits to having a favorite and it is a Romanian Dance called Hora Din Canpie. The intrigue about this dance is that it has an odd count. Most folk dances are based in the music of 4/4 time or 3/4 time, very pleasing to the ear and a predictable natural movement. With Hora Din Canpie, there is more variation and it requires more thinking though it is nicely soft and melodic. It was popular in the Banat Region of Romania.
Traveling has made Gabriel very aware of the variety of folk dances. They are different from ritual dances, which are usually connected with a religious expression. Over her lifetime she has seen countries change names and borders while the folk dances live on — this makes it a little challenging to know the origins of many dances. Fortunately this does not interfere with the beauty of the composition.
Typically the first part of the session is about learning some new dance that is of interest to someone in the group and catches the attention of all the members. The second part of the time is dancing to folk music that is familiar and popular among the members.
The dances bring up pleasant memories for those in the group who have danced them in the original countries. Gabriel is from Germany and Holland. As a young high school graduate she came to Whittier College, then UCLA in Berkley where she earned her degree in social welfare. Her Aunt had come to Los Angeles at the beginning of the war and was happy to have a young niece enjoy the possibilities that California offered.
Folk dancing was as much a wonderful part of Gabriel’s life then, as it is now. She feels that because it is suitable for all ages and expressed from “the ridiculous to the sublime” it is a lifelong pleasure!
The sublime being the perfectionist who wants to bring the art to the world by studying and performing. The ridiculous that wants to remember the art and play with friends. Friends move in unison, and practice non-verbal communication. No permission is spoken, it is all-inclusive and welcoming. People join hands and move happily around the dance floor — indoor or outdoors.
Norma and Gabriel invite everyone to just show up and relax. There is fun awaiting you as well as new friends. Mid County Senior Center 829 Bay Ave, Capitola 831 476 4711 Int’l Dance Thursdays 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.