Thanks to guest blogger Kathy Bruni for sharing this with us!

Many of the long-time supporters of Northwest Folklife are dancers, and the musicians who play for them.That’s why we go, and why we support the Festival year after year—dancing, dancing, dancing! That, and the connections we make with fellow dancers year after year. Folks flock to Folklife from Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and many other states, including some as far away as Florida. We dance with one another, forming bonds that last a lifetime. I think it is safe to say that there are many couples in the dance community who met at Folklife. For me, dancing is a lifelong passion that provides exercise, social interaction, and a conduit to the elusive meaning of life. Music and motion in combination promote happiness.

Northwest Folklife provides a taste of the many dance styles the Northwest has to offer, including dances of the world (aka international dance), waltz, swing, contra dance, tango, polka, and more. These dances are accessible to just about everyone, and each of the participatory dances includes short lessons to get you moving right away. You might just get hooked!

Folk dancers have been part of Northwest Folklife since the beginning, and have helped shape it through the years. Since I started coming to the Festival in 1985, folk dance parties have been a major draw, with the Scandinavian dance one night, the Balkan dance another night, and the international dance a third night. Many more participatory dances have been added over the years, as the festival has grown.

The Center House Court is the scene for much of the participatory dancing, and that’s where you will find the International Folkdance Party on Sunday, May 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. Allspice starts the dance off with a mix of couple and line dances from countries around the world, including Sweden, Germany, Poland, Scotland, Croatia, and many more. It takes a lot of musical acumen to play tunes from so many different musical traditions, and Allspice doesn’t disappoint. On behalf of Northwest Folk Dancers Inc. (NFDI), Diane Vadnais will teach some easy dances during the band changeover; come and learn to do dances that you can immediately practice in the next set, when Opa Groupa takes the stage. Look for them to play a variety of dances from eastern Europe and the Balkans. Join us, and find out where you can continue dancing long after the 2012 Festival is over.

In addition to participatory dances, there are many dance performances to watch, representing a variety of cultures from around the world. In authentic costumes, often with live music, the performance groups offer a unique perspective into countries you may never have the chance to visit, but you can experience them at Northwest Folklife. Most of these groups are performing on the Center House Court, or on the International Dance Stage.

The Northwest Folklife Festival is unique because of the breadth and variety of entertainment, lessons, and participatory dancing offered on one site, for free. Don’t miss the opportunity!
Kathy Bruni

Kathy Bruni is the community coordinator for the 2012 international folk dance party at Folklife, and she has been involved in the folk dance community since 1975. She is the treasurer, webmaster, and co-newsletter editor for Northwest Folkdancers Inc. She and her husband are the dance leaders and teachers for a German performance group, Enzian Schuhplattler, and Kathy also manages publicity and is webmaster for that group. She is the editor and publicist for Skandia Folkdance Society, and the editor of the Seattle Folklore Society newsletter. When she is not busy as a technical writer, she spends her time traveling, writing, and dancing—she is lucky enough to have her hobbies intersect in the world of folk dance.

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