Sunday, August 24, 2014

Let's dance

Pic of the week

Pass the hat! Cuban folk dancers at the International Folk Dance Festival in Bonheiden
Photos by John Weaver

When I saw the sign a few weeks ago on the side of the road announcing an International Folk Dance Festival, I was intrigued. Not just because it sounded like something I'd definitely like, but also because of where it was, in Bonheiden, a tiny village outside of Mechelen. Turns out it was their 40th anniversary and this year we saw dancers from Cuba, Brittany (France), Sweden, Ukraine, and Flanders.

The main program was on Sunday, but we went on Saturday, which was kids day. Each country (or region) danced two songs and there were a bunch of activities for the kiddies. 

It was great to see the differences between the dances, the music (each group had their own band), and dress. But there were a lot of similarities too. Many of the dances depict ordinary activities, like washing cloths (in a Flemish dance) and planting potatoes (in a Swedish dance). Forming circles seems to be another cross-cultural dance tradition, as well as ducking under each other's arms. It reminded me of the Square Dancing I had to learn in school in Ohio. 

The ones that stood out for me were the Cubans. Lively and energetic, their music and dance just make you want to move and smile along with them. Apparently it's also traditional in Cuban dance to make catcalls at the women - Arrrrrriba!

Cuban folk dancers

The Ukrainians were also fun to watch.

Ukrainian folk dancers

Ukrainian folk dancers

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