Experience slice of Eastern Europe, international folk music Saturday | TheUnion.com

Experience slice of Eastern Europe, international folk music Saturday

Saturday international dance teacher Sue Williard will visit Grass Valley and offer an afternoon workshop on traditional dances from villages in Albania, Bulgaria and nearby regions. Saturday evening, local bands Village Folk Orkestra and Podruzhki will perform, tying in numbers included in the dancing workshop.

Williard will instruct from 2 until about 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley. Williard will teach traditional dances from Eastern European villages and said that anybody with an interest can benefit from the workshop.

“If you can walk, you can dance,” she said.

“There’s a nice variety in what we’ll teach,” Williard wrote. “We’ll do a Bulgarian dance, usually done at weddings by everybody — it’s lively but not too fast. The music makes you just want to bounce along. Also, there’s a ritual dance from Romania that symbolizes a young woman’s transition to adult responsibilities. It’s more moody but beautiful. And we have a piece from Albania with a mesmerizing singer. The dance is smooth and controlled and expresses the music so well.”

Williard studies with both European and American dance experts and is known for getting people moving quickly, while conveying authentic style and details of the dances. The local club, Nevada County Folkdancers, will be on hand and plans to keep practicing the new numbers over the coming months.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, two local groups will play live, including most of the numbers from Williard’s workshop. Village Folk Orkestra, founded more than 30 years ago by the late Richard Geisler, carries on with new energetic players and a huge repertoire of tunes, mostly from the Balkan countries, along with other parts of Europe and the Middle East. The six of them play fiddle and Bulgarian fiddle, flutes, accordion, guitars and bass, several varieties of hand drum, clarinet and a few more. Lead vocals are by George Kreshka of Czech-American origins and singing in a dozen or more languages each night.

The local East Europe-influenced choir Podruzhki will add several numbers to the program. Podruzhki was born in Saint Joseph’s Hall about 12 years ago when local music fans stood in awe after a concert by the Oakland group Kitka and couldn’t go home until they committed to singing fun but challenging music from the Balkan region.

St. Joseph’s Hall, upstairs at 410 South Church St., Grass Valley, will be set up for both listening and dancing. Many tunes are easy “all-join-in” style, and all are danceable. Williard and local dancers will lead the lines, and most pieces are designed for lines rather than couples. For information about the music and the event, call 530-272-4650.

Tickets for the afternoon dance workshop are $10. The evening concert is also $10. Both can be purchased at the door. Organizers said no one will be turned away.

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