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Having spent a great deal of time playing for dancers (I’m a life-long musician), I’ve always loved watching them in action. But basically, until I moved to Seattle from Yakima (WA in both cases), I saw only country music dancing, because I was playing country music; or rock dancing, because I was playing rock music. We did have cultural, or folk dancing happening somewhere around Yakima — perhaps on the outskirts; I just never, ever saw it. Moving home to Seattle allowed me to see people engaging in so many different styles of dance. I’ve attended and/or played at a scads of cultural festivals since I arrived in 1974. I’ve seen so many great dancers, in ensembles, dancing to entertain/educate their audience; or just folks, who on their own, were simply dancing for the pure joy it brings.

I decided to make a post spotlighting five (well, actually six) dancers I photographed at this year’s fabulous Northwest Folklife Festival, which recently took place at our town’s major gathering spot, Seattle Center. In this post, each dancer is featured in her own sequence of photos. And, the last photo in each sequence is in B&W. Two of the dancers were part of ensembles performing on stage, as part of the festival’s scheduled activities; the rest were not scheduled; but they very well could have been. All were very accomplished, and wonderful to watch.

[I normally crop photos rather tightly; however, I refrained from doing that here, in order to include some of the musicians who were playing for the dancers, or just to give you a better glimpse of the festival.] Here we go!

Drum circle dancer.

Even I dance at drum circles. And sometimes, I take my little wooden egg shaker out of my knapsack and play along. Our Seattle drum circles attract dancers en masse. — I took quite a few photos of this fabulous drum circle dancer, who had given me her email address, so I that I could send copies to her. (I always offer to do this, given the chance. It’s a great way to get to know good people.) She wrote it on a card, which I put in my pocket without looking at. When I got home, I couldn’t read her handwriting! — Well, at least I can share the photos with you.

Panamanian colors.

And next comes a Panamanian dancer. Notice how kids appear and disappear in the photos. She was very nice, happy to pose for anyone who wanted to shoot photos. She was wearing the beautiful colors of the Panamanian flag. In fact, in one of the photos, you can see the Panamanian flag, which someone was displaying. She matches! This wonderful woman was dancing in Seattle Center’s International Fountain. Lucky for her, the water jets were ebbing at that moment. She was situated between the drum circle, and a stage where an alt-country band was performing. I’m not sure whose music she was dancing to. Both? She was probably part of an ensemble that was booked to perform on a stage, and she just wanted to joyfully dance in the fountain.

Emerging.

This striking set of photos features a young dancer who was busking (seeking tips from passersby). In her performance, she began while lying on the ground, covered in a ginormous paper shroud. She slowly rose, finally cast off her shroud, and then, danced in her own, unique way. All the while, folks like me were snapping photos like crazy, and filling her donation box.

Happiness personified.

This set features Rachel, a dancer from the Vamo La! Brazilian percussion/dance ensemble. I’ve watched her for years; she’s fabulous. I’m into all kinds of Brazilian music. One of my favorite bands is Monoclub, a Brazilian alt-country band. I also love the Brazilian choro and fado styles, and basically all Brazilian jazz. And, I love this type of carnival performance. Over the years, I’ve taken numerous photos of this young, vivacious woman; but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her. I imagine she’s a wonderful human being. Rachel always seems so very, very happy, and she seems to love sharing her dance with us.

Los Flacos’ dancer.

Finally, I present to you, Los Flacos’ beautiful, wonderful traditional dancer. Please note that in the fifth photo, there is a woman sitting on the grass, watching her dance. As I noted at the beginning, I usually crop my photos extensively. I left the woman in the photo, on purpose. Because in the very next shot, you can see that she has gotten up off the lawn, and she is dancing with our wonderful artist! In the last photo she’s included in, she bows….

My thanks to the splendid performers I was able to share here with you. I’m glad I could communicate my love of dance. — We can all celebrate dance in our own way. By dancing, watching others dance, playing for dancers, taking photos of dancers…. I invite you to celebrate dance — in your living room, at a festival, at a club, at a dance company’s presentation. As they say, when in doubt, twirl!

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I attempted to find the names of these wonderful dancers; as of this writing, I haven’t been able to. I’ll add the name(s) if I can, when I can.

And now, this post takes a very frivolous turn, if you want it to:

Can you do all sixteen dances?


My thanks to Marilu Rudez for the inspiration!