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Folk dancing spins through Riderwood

Created date

April 27th, 2010

The rhythmic sound of more than a dozen pairs of happy feet can be heard throughout the Village Square Clubhouse each Friday morning, compliments of Riderwood s new and extremely popular folk dancing class. Dancing is a wonderful way to express yourself, says Anna Pappas, who teaches the class. The more the students learn, the more they feel comfortable about dancing and then the more fun we have. Pappas has been dancing since the tender age of four, and she learned many of the dances she now shares with her students while traveling the world with her parents, both foreign service officers. In the first two months of the class, Pappas has introduced Riderwood residents to Japanese, Bulgarian, African, South American, Romanian, Welsh, Dutch, Hawaiian, and American dances.

Willingness is the key

The best part about teaching the class is that all of the students are willing to try, says Pappas. She adds that the students drive the direction and pace of the class. We take it slow when we need to. I tell everyone that this is not a race. Some of the students are more experienced than others, but everyone has to start somewhere. And because everyone learns in different ways, I do my best to teach to their learning style. Walter Rybeck, who lives atRiderwood, has been folk dancing most of his life. Lately, I d been missing it and decided to sign up for the class, he says. It s been a wonderful way to learn new dances in a very friendly atmosphere. Everyone is so happy when they are dancing. Fellow classmate Rhoda Sumner a newcomer to folk dancing agrees. The fun comes from Pappas entertaining style and the sociability of the group, she says. We laugh at our mistakes but feel gratified when we do a dance correctly. Teaching to a variety of learning styles is something Pappas learned during her career as a teacher in the Montgomery County public school system. Anna is a wonderful teacher, says Sumner. She is vivacious, patient, entertaining, and energetic. Her husband even comes with her to class and participates. She told us the two of them do vaudeville-type performances at senior centers and other venues.

Cultural immersion

In addition to dance moves, the students are learning a great deal about the different cultures represented in each dance. Within the subtleties of each dance lie clues about a particular culture, says Pappas. Who takes the lead, how many people in each dance, and which foot begins a dance can be very reflective of where the dance comes from. As a result, the students have learned dances performed in pairs, in circles, in lines, and even in threes or fours. Learning new steps to different rhythms provides a little challenge but lots of pleasure, says Sumner. It s also a great way to keep active. With class enrollment nearing capacity, there s no doubting the popularity ofRiderwood s newest course offering. In fact, plans are currently underway for a campus performance in conjunction with the ukulele group. I hope that the class continues to be offered atRiderwood, says Rybeck. I m really having a great time, and there is always something to learn.

Did you know?

This history of a particular country or region plays an important role in the development of folk dance. For example, in Mexico, where folkloric dance developed over five centuries, a fusion of influences including the pre-Columbian era, the Spanish conquest, French intervention, Porfiriato, and 1910 revolution led to an indigenous culture with more than 300 dance styles. Each style reflects the time in which it was developed.