Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.
By Lou Pechi
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Did you ever wonder how many folk dances there are in this world? How many of these folkdances we know? Now consider how many different steps each dance has. There must be a zillion different steps. What really boggles my mind is that for all of these steps we only use two feet. So, how many steps does that make?
Let's see. If you stand on your right foot, you could place your left foot in front, in the back, to your left, or cross over to the right in front or the back of your right foot. That makes about five different steps, if you consider just the North, South, East, and West of your right foot. But just like the compass directions, there are innumerable other spots you could step on in between the four main directions. Or you might not step on the foot at all, and just raise the heel of you left foot to stand on your toes, or just hop, or bend your right knee.
Now, you could just step on the left foot, stomp, point with you toes or your heel, or not step on it at all and just swing it in any direction. We have just quadrupled the number of possible steps.
However, we have two feet: a right one, and a left one. As all of you know, I have two of the left kind. So, by starting with the other left foot you double all of the above steps. I bet you that we have already counted more than a million different steps.
But, as they say "Steps only - a dance don't make!" We move our arms, and the whole body including the head.
Let's look at arms. You could just hold your partner's arm, not too tightly, please, as we do in most of the dances, or in the "W" position. If you are a "Dyed in Heart Bulgarian," you would grab your partner's belt. Of course, just in front of his or her belly button, and if you are a belt-less dancer hold their hands in a low hand hold. Croatians, being a bit shy prefer the rear basket hold or do they, because some of the dances turn so fast, to support each other in the circle. Armenians, on the other hand, being very sanitary, hold their partners pinkies. I always thought that was very clever; one does not have to pause to wash one's hands before eating. I love some of the Greek partner dances, where you just lift your hands to the heavens, as Zorba does in his famous movie, and let them express your love of life.
And our bodies, supporting the legs and arms, move as well. Hips, belly, shoulders, head, and eyes can have their own exciting movements that add flavor to the dance.
What ties the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) chain of steps and movements together is the music, without which we could not dance. Oh, you might say there is the "Silent Kolo" done without any music. Since they could not to play their favorite melodies, they had to dance to the rhythm while keeping the music in their heads.
When you get right down to it, it is not that important how many steps there are.
What is important is to enjoy dancing. So, enjoy!
As appearing in "Dancing with Two Left Feet (19)," Folk Dance Scene.
Used with permission of the author.