Our Folk Dance Universe
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After the Second World War, I returned to Zagreb, the Croatian city in which I was born, to spend the next four wonderful years growing from a small ten year old boy to a bigger fourteen year old teenager. These were wonderful years, as I experienced the freedom of roaming freely throughout the streets of Zagreb with my junior high school friends. Our band of four would go together to the movies in the evenings. On holidays we would take the trolley to the river and go swimming, or just play endless games of cowboys and Indians in the bushes and reeds next to the water. The whole city from the river in the south to the mountains in the north was our world, and we thought we knew it all inside out. We felt we went everywhere we could possibly go in our large and endless city. We owned the world.
Years later, when I returned to Zagreb, I realized how small our world really was at that time.
The streets we wandered in covered only a very small portion of the city and consisted our immediate neighborhood: the house we lived in, the junior high we went to every day, the main square with the two large parks nearby, and the tennis courts that transformed into a large skating rink each winter. In other words, while we thought we knew it all, we only knew a small portion of the city.
Why am I mentioning this?
When I first started folk dancing, I assumed that within a few years I would indeed learn almost all the dances that everyone was doing. I was impressed by the dancers who seemed to dance every dance on the program, as I sat out many of the dances I didn’t know. Some day I hoped to be like them, and know them all.
I now realize that no matter how many years I might spend dancing in our folk dance community, there is no end to the dances, brought via workshops by our teachers, who patiently keep adding to our repertoire. I marvel at how the folkdance universe seems not only to be endless and ever expanding, and wonder how I can ever explore it all in my lifetime.
Perhaps I never shall, but the joy I get from being in our wonderful folkdance universe is also endless.
Used with permission of the author.
As appearing in "Dancing with Two Left Feet (57)," Folk Dance Scene.