Join the folk dancing fun
Do you remember folk dancing at school?
It still happens in primary schools up and down the country.
Rae Storey is the woman behind much of it.
Her New Wave books, tapes and DVDs feature 40 dances that can be taught to children and young adults.
The dances come from cultures including British, Western European, Israeli and American.
Mrs Storey runs a group called La Bourree, an all-women ensemble who do French folk dancing. She also has a group for children who do English maypole dancing.
Every year she and her fellow dancers host the Winter WarmUp at Danish House in Penrose.
Groups of dancers have 15 minutes to strut their stuff. Most choose to perform for a few minutes and then invite the spectators to learn a few steps.
‘‘It is such a great intercultural event. Usually this kind of thing would be a sit-down concert and you don’t get to join in. There are lots of friends among these groups so it’s a real intercultural scene,’’ Mrs Storey says.
Her passion for dances from other cultures developed when she went to Canada as a postgraduate student in the 1960s.
‘‘New Zealand was a very monocultural, bland place at that time. A lot of us couldn’t wait to get overseas and explore the world.
‘‘The dancing and music of other cultures blew me away.’’
Later as a teacher in London she revelled in the multicultural experiences. She spent much of her leisure time eating in foreign restaurants and going dancing.
When it was time to come back to New Zealand she brought home recordings of the music she’d discovered and introduced folk dancing to high schools while working as an English teacher at Selwyn College in Kohimarama.
She says folk dancing was just one part of New Zealand’s cultural awakening after the war.
‘‘They say that after war, people always want to dance . . . and after World War II there was much more interest in people from other cultures.’’
Over time, Auckland became much more multicultural and the city council began to put on festivals celebrating that fact.
Mrs Storey still holds workshops and takes her performing groups to these events although she says these days people are more interested in learning Latin dancing.
‘‘The taste for the exotic has gone in other directions.’’
Knees up: Folklore Chileno Latino at the Winter Warm-Up 2012. From left: Ana Maria de Vos, Gyorgyi Kardos and Edit Simpson.