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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

By Dick Oakes

Smiling Horse


Control of head and face are just as necessary in folk dancing as is control of the rest of the body. One of those controls is the "smile."

The New Oxford American Dictionary says that to smile is to "form one's features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed."

wikiHow asks, "Do you want to be the person who walks into a room and lights it up with your smile? Smiling seems to come more naturally to some people than others, but like any habit, it gets much easier with practice. Smiling raises your spirits and makes other people happy – it's a very powerful expression. Smiling is a good way to show others that you're friendly, positive, and open to conversation. Always remember to smile from your heart; not with your mind."

One problem seems to be the lack of ability of the cheek muscles to krinkle the corners of the mouth upward. This gives your partner the feeling that you are dancing for, by, and with yourself, particularly if you are constantly looking at your feet, your partner's feet, other couples' feet, the audience (whoever they may be), or what have you, and never at your partner.

Two smiles by one couple puts that couple many notches higher on the enjoyment scale, couple-wise, group-wise, and audience-wise. Smile, and your partner smiles with you; frown, and your partner will also; cry, and you have no partner.

And let's not leave out chain dances and individual dances – why not smile while doing those dances, too!

If you are enjoying yourself while dancing, why not show it – smile! If you are not enjoying yourself while dancing, why are you dancing?

There is one more area not usually associated with folk dancing, the lack of which sometimes even retards folk dancing. This is the control of emotional displays of bad temper and discouragement.

Have you ever tried to be angry or even discouraged while smiling? Try it! You'll be happy that you did!

Used with permission of the author.