All posts by M.K. Brennan

Great Success: International Folk Dance Workshop and Party!

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Many thanks to all who came! Marcie taught us some wonderful dances, which we will be reviewing in the coming weeks. Even with the dice-y weather, we had a great time.

****Saturday morning update****

So….it’s snowing outside today, as you know, heading for 2 to 4 inches, according to the forecasts.
But to judge from the temperature and the cars going past our house in Harpswell at fairly normal speeds, driving conditions don’t appear to be too hazardous. Also, dance teacher Marcie Van Cleave is already on her way from Boston.
So today’s International Folk Dance Workshop and Party are still ON, as planned. Please judge the weather conditions for yourself and, naturally, don’t come if you don’t feel safe. But other than that, we hope you’ll join us!

Folk Dance Brunswick will host a special “International Folk Dance Workshop and Party” led by noted folk dance teacher Marcie Van Cleave of Massachusetts.

The event will be held on Saturday, February 11, in two parts — a teaching session from 1 to about 5 p.m. and an evening dance party from 7 to about 10 p.m. — at the People Plus community center, 35 Union Street, one block west of Maine Street, in downtown Brunswick. All are welcome. Suggested donation $10.

“Marcie is a fantastic teacher — clear, kind, easy to understand, and very energizing,” says Solange Kellerman, chair of the Folk Dance Brunswick entertainment committee that organized the event. “She also has a great sense of humor. These are beautiful dances, with beautiful music — and people love learning them. It’s going to be a great night!”

Van Cleave is the executive director of the Folk Arts Center of New England in Stoneham, Massachusetts. She has been teaching and leading traditional dances in the Boston area and throughout New England since the mid-1980s. In recent years her reputation as a teacher and caller has spread beyond New England, and she now regularly teaches at camps, events and festivals around the U.S. and in Europe — notably in the Czech Republic, where she has an annual engagement with the traditional Czech dance group Dvorana in Prague and has co-led several cultural tours of the country.

She also has extensive expertise as a contra dance caller and English dance leader and in developing and running music and dance camps, including the Folk Arts Center’s International Weekend and Folk Days at Pinewoods Camp in Plymouth, Massachusetts; its Pinewoods Cape Breton Weekend; and the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School on Thompson Island in Boston Harbor.

“Folk dancing is good exercise — and good fun for all ages,” Kellerman concludes. “No partner is needed, and it’s a nice way to help build global community through local action.”

No street shoes on the dance floor, please.

For more information, contact 207-200-7577, brennan.mk @ gmail.com, or http://www.folkdancebrunswick.com.

(Photo courtesy of Marcie Van Cleave.)

Folk Dance Brunswick’s “Balkan and Beyond” Dance Night Will Feature Live Music by Boston’s Pixton & Shragai

On Friday, May 20, Folk Dance Brunswick’s “Balkan and Beyond” dance night will feature live music by legendary accordionist Tom Pixton (shown) and multi-instrumentalist/percussionist Yaron Shragai. All are welcome. [Photo courtesy of Tom Pixton.]
On Friday, May 20, Folk Dance Brunswick’s “Balkan and Beyond” dance night will feature live music by legendary accordionist Tom Pixton (shown) and multi-instrumentalist/percussionist Yaron Shragai. All are welcome. [Photo courtesy of Tom Pixton.]
BRUNSWICK, Me., April 28, 2016 — Folk Dance Brunswick will host a “Balkan and Beyond” dance night with live music by Boston’s Pixton–Shragai Band on Friday, May 20, from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. at the People Plus community center, 35 Union Street, one block west of Maine Street, in downtown Brunswick. All are welcome. Donation $10.

Pixton–Shragai is a two-person international-folk-style band, featuring legendary folk accordionist Tom Pixton and multi-instrumentalist/percussionist Yaron Shragai. The duo has performed across the Northeast and been acclaimed for its exciting repertoire of world dance music from the Balkans, Israel, Western Europe, and around the globe.

“Tom Pixton played for us on an remarkable night last February as part of a larger band,” says Folk Dance Brunswick president Mary Brennan of Harpswell, “and we’ve heard great things about Yaron, too. So the ‘Balkan and Beyond’ dance should really be a terrific night of fun!”

Tom Pixton is a celebrated Balkan, international, and Scottish folk dance musician. He has worked with many of today’s most accomplished dance teachers and musicians as accordionist, pianist, bandleader, music arranger, and CD producer — providing music for dance camps, workshops, and special events in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. He plays a magnificent accordion, a custom-built 4/5 96-bass Guerrini Classic, and studied accordion with Petur Ralchev, Koliu Kolev, Bobby Brown, and others. He is the publisher of the Pinewoods International Collection, a 400-page book of folk dance tunes from around the world that is a leading reference volume and source of dance music. From 1977 to 1984, he was a harpsichord player and maker who studied with Gustav Leonhardt and Louis Bagger. He performed throughout the U.S., made a variety of recordings, and hand-built 18 harpsichords.

“In 1991,” Tom says, “I decided the accordion was way more fun!”

Yaron Shragai is a noted Boston-area folk musician, bandleader, and dance leader. He has been playing traditional music for more than a decade, focusing on Balkan and international styles as well as some klezmer and American contradance music. He chiefly plays percussion and the recorder but also sings and plays the guitar. Shragai grew up in Israel and New York City — two spots where cultures meet in remarkable ways — and learned from Souhail Gaspar, Beth Cohen, Hankus Netsky, and others.

“My key interest,” he says, “is in the relationship of the music to the dance forms and the role of the supporting musicians in driving them both forward.”

In the early part of the evening, selected dances will be taught for newcomers; the band will start playing around 7:30 p.m.

Folk Dance Brunswick is a nonprofit organization offering world music and international folk dancing. The group meets weekly on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.

“Folk dancing is good exercise — and good fun for all ages,” Brennan concludes. “Some of the dances are taught, no partner is needed, and it’s a nice way of building global community through local action.”

No street shoes on the dance floor, please.

For more information, contact 207-200-7577 or http://www.folkdancebrunswick.com.

What a party!

Fabulous night of music and dancing at Folk Dance Brunswick‘s first Balkan Bash. Thank you, Gogofski, for coming up from Boston! Vocalist Kasia Sokalla of Poland, Dave Golber on clarinet, Tom Pixton on accordion, and Henry Goldberg on the Balkan tupan drum created beautiful, exciting music. Thank you, newcomers, for joining in with good spirit! And thank you, Maine folk dancers, for making another Friday a celebration of community and dance.

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“Balkan Bash” with Gogofski!

Balkan Bash – Gogofski vocalist Kasia Sokallo
On February 12, our “Balkan Bash” dance night will feature live music by the Boston band Gogofski with vocalist Kasia Sokallo. All are welcome. [Photo courtesy of Gogofski.]
We’ll be hosting a “Balkan Bash” dance night with live music by the Boston band Gogofski on Friday, February 12, from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. at the People Plus community center, 35 Union Street, one block west of Maine Street, in downtown Brunswick. All are welcome. Donation $5.

Gogofski is a four-person Balkan-style band with vocalist Kasia Sokallo of Poland, Dave Golber on clarinet, Tom Pixton on accordion, and Henry Goldberg on the Balkan tupan drum. The band has played throughout the Northeast and been acclaimed as “awesome” for providing “a wonderful evening.”

“This’ll be our first dance with live music,” says Folk Dance Brunswick president Mary Brennan of Harpswell, “and we’re very excited about it. Several of us heard Gogofski play in Boston last fall: They blew the roof off. What a night of dancing we’re going to have!”

Clarinetist Dave Golber adds, “We play intensely emotional, grab-you-by-the-heart music, drawing on older and newer traditional music from all over the Western edge of the Ottoman Empire to create a repertoire of powerful songs — songs of unrequited love, songs of seduction and deception, songs of the promise of happiness held against the pain of loss.”

In the early part of the evening, selected dances will be taught for newcomers; Gogofski will start playing at 8 p.m.

No street shoes on the dance floor. Please bring a spare pair!

See you soon.