the episodes

How this started - the eleven "episodes".

It began in 2008 with an issue I was trying to address: a longstanding frustration with recreational folk dancing. I had trouble learning new material, and often felt awkward. Yet occasionally I also heard people say I was a good dancer. Sure, in the course of life, being hypercritical of oneself is a common pitfall. But I started noticing that beyond the internal conflict, I was also dealing with a contrast of values and esthetics within folk dancing that I had not previously noticed or heard discussed.
At the time, I was using Myspace for miscellaneous blogging. To maintain continuity between posts on this topic, I numbered each one as an "episode". Though I may not be focusing on the original issue, I think I'll keep the name for now. Kef is a good thing. Though you can't necessarily make it happen - when it does, it is always appreciated.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

episode 1 - the Peninsula (MySpace 4/14/2008)

The first two "episodes"are paired - to demonstrate a contrast. 

Subject Where's the kef? - episode 1 - the Peninsula
DateCreated 4/14/2008 5:11:00 PM
PostedDate 4/14/2008 4:47:00 PM
Body I have a bi-polar relationship with folk dance. Sometimes I feel like the ultimate three-footed klutz - sometimes I feel like I am flying. Depends on the venue and the vibes. I don't have it quite figured out. I may never really understand it. But here and there I find insights. Like that weekend last September...

Was staying on the Peninsula. It was a Friday evening. I was looking for fun and company, so I paid a visit to the Stanford Dancers. They organize their evenings like many other folk dance clubs - a teach or review of several dances, followed by "request dancing," drawing on the club's massive collection of recorded music. Each record cut is associated with a particular folk dance. The scope is international, but with an emphasis on the Balkans. None of the regulars knows all of these dances - but some know hundreds and many know dozens. Despite this resident expertise, hospitality is strong in all the clubs I've visited. By intention, both the teaching and request segments include easy material, suitable for beginners.

I sometimes tell folks that I've given up on learning new dances, but I started this evening game. Alas, as usual I couldn't keep up with the teach, particularly the dances with multiple variations. Like, I'd be still be working on variation 1, and the teacher would continue to 2. Four more variations to go? Time to sit down and watch. Some people actually got it all. Some did their best, faking it as necessary. And a few stumbled along.

Don't underestimate it - being able to fake is a quality skill. It helps you to fit in and have a good time. And hey, your fake might look as good as the correct step. But what you don't want to do is to stumble along. No fun, not pretty - and worse, you could hurt yourself or others.

During that evening I re-joined the others whenever simpler and more familiar material was presented. But I spent most of the evening sitting. Had pleasant interactions - but I left with a slight nagging sense of not being able to hack it.

It was a typical experience for me on the international folk-dance scene - hundreds of dances being taught, and therefore an unlimited opportunity to never quite learn the step-pattern - let alone the styling. Whatever pleasure I can get from these sessions, the net effect is going to be less than desirable.

Next: episode 2 - the following day in Santa Rosa

But see the contrast the next day...

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