Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.
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The numerous arguments about the authenticity of dances reminded me of the old argument about "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" While the arguments are about the quantity of dancing angels, how authentic are the dances they do?
In my humble opinion, all dances we do are second-hand dances. We learn them either from the dedicated teachers or native teachers, who bring them to us after extensive field research. In other words, it is their interpretation of the genuine dances that we get through them second hand. Very few of us have the opportunity to actually learn the dances directly from the people that do them as part of their life.
The teachers, in order to make the dances sellable to our dancing public, repackage the steps to fit the available music, add or delete dancing patterns, do the same pattern throughout the whole dance, or combine several patterns in one dance set. Due to the shorter folk dancers' attention span, I noticed that the number of patterns in each dance has been decreasing lately.
So for those purists who really need to know how authentic a dance is, I suggest that in addition to the dance name and the country of origin, we certify the dances with a "Good Dancing Seal of Approval" that would indicate the level of authenticity of the dance.
Additionally, as they do with all the food labels, we need to add to the Seal information on the purity of the dance. It is not enough to state what country the dance comes from, but we need to state what percentage of the dance comes from each region, village, and family. Also important will be the percentage of influence each choreographer contributed to the dance.
On this label I envision health information such as how much will one's cholesterol be lowered, or how many calories one might burn by dancing each dance. Of course we will have to have warnings alerting us that certain dances have to be danced on a full or empty stomach and that they might be harmful to the knees or the spine, not to mention hurt feet.
Will the Israeli dances require the High Dance Cohanim's "Kosher for Dancing" approval symbol, or indication which dances can be done on a Sabbath, or will there be a total ban on dancing? You never know what dancing could lead to!
Personally, I ignore all labels and just enjoy the contents.
So get rid of the label and enjoy the taste of dance.
As appearing in "Dancing with Two Left Feet (54)," Folk Dance Scene.
Used with permission of the author.