Join the folk danc­ing fun

Central Leader - - NEWS - By CATHER­INE HEALY

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.

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