By Dick Oakes
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Obereks, kolos, squares, polkas, mazurkas, hopaks, schotisches, hambos, waltzes, tarantellas, syrtos, hulas, csárdás, and schuhplattlers are a few of the many international folk dances that Dick Oakes of Industry Marketing dances, teaches, and performs as a recreational hobby. He has been folk dancing since 1958 when he "found" it at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Dick has belonged to several clubs, including two exhibition groups. Both of these groups were recently featured at the Philharmonic in a folk dance festival production on April 4 (1964).
Original and true folk dances developed naturally in many different ways — through festivals, religion, customs, etc., and have, in some instances, become the national dances of the country of their origin. Folk dancing in the United States is an educational social recreation, embodying personal fitness, self assurance, fellowship, understanding, and, above all, enjoyment.
Folk dancing is so wide-spread throughout California that the 200 or more clubs in the state have formed into a Folk Dance Federation that puts out a monthly folk dance magazine among its other services. One Federation elective office, Director of Extension, was formed to develop activities and further folk dancing on a statewide basis. Dick was re-elected to this office in April for the coming fiscal year. He has previously held the office of Director of Publicity.
Dick has taught folk dances at many clubs, groups, and "institutes." On his vacation this year he plans to attend the University of the Pacific (Stockton) folk dance camp which lasts for two weeks.
Another interesting note is that Dick makes his own costumes, including the intricate embroidery required on some. With all of this extra-curricular activity, it seems to him that there aren't enough nights in the week or days in the month. He still seems to feel, however, that "folk dancing as a hobby is like a broken drum — hard to beat."
Anyone interested in folk dancing or its related arts may contact Dick for more information.
This article appeared in The Westerner, a publication of the IBM Club, an employee organization of IBM®.
Copyright © 2011 by Dick Oakes