Tenth Anniversary Celebration
By Rudy Dannes
The Intersection dream went way back to 1950 at the turn of the half century. I went around and asked many folk dance friends of mine to start a coffeehouse where they could do folk dancing at the same time. Everybody said "yes," "fine," "great," but nobody did it. And then, the idea started to die . . . but not quite.
Athan Karras and I got together in 1964 and took over The Intersection. This was to be the folk dance center. You could not only eat the food from many countries, but you could experience their traditions and sample their music, song, and dance -- not through an inert state, but through live experience! This was to be the unique Intersection, and in 1974, we had our Tenth Anniversary Celebration!
We had five days in which we celebrated. We started off on Wednesday, October 30th, with Nena Šokčić teaching Croatian dances. She had not only been the lead dancer with the Lado Dance Ensemble of Croatia, but a very good friend of Rubi Vučeta, who started our whole Balkan trend at The Intersection as our Wednesday night teacher. We obtained some video footage of Nena teaching a capacity crowd that first night.
The following night was Thursday, October 31st, our traditional Greek night. Halloween, however, was also that night, so we celebrated Halloween with a party that you couldn't believe. People came in costumes; they played games; prizes were given. We had lots of fun. There was only one thing we had forgotten . . . the video cameraman!
On Friday, November 1st, we had a surprise party and, included in that surprise, the cameraman showed up! The Intersection's own group, Dionysos, performed Greek dances, including a Pogonisios from the northern part of Greece.
The Intersection dance groups started in our second year. The first group was the Intersection World Dancers. They did dances from many different countries and were recruited from the dancers who came to The Intersection regularly to enjoy themselves. As time went on, they eventually divided into two groups: the Greek Dancers, and the International Dancers. Eventually, a third group was formed, the Adagio Dancers. The groups perfomed, not only for special events at The Intersection, but also for special events all over Southern California. They gave programs to high schools and junior high schools. They performed on the stage at music halls and many other places where they were well received. The combined Intersection dance groups established names and reputations for themselves, giving a taste of dances from many places around the world to people who would never have had a chance to see what these dances looked like.
On Saturday, November 2nd, we had a really big night. We not only had The Intersection groups perform, several other groups performed. The International Dancers performed a Serbian suite of dances originally arranged for stage by Rubi. As much as possible, when our dancers performed, they tried to instill the character of the people who originally performed the dances. They were so full of high spirits that they were willing to fall flat on their faces, if the spirit so moved them, rather than try to look proper and prim.
The costumes of our groups were authentic costumes which, as much as possible, were made by the people in the countries represented. There was an occasional piece that was duplicated by the dancers in the groups so that we had enough pieces for everyone. Much time was put into research to make sure the costumes and the details were correct and accurate for the dances being presented.
Also on Saturday, the Ote'a Polynesian Dancers taught by Jack Kineer, performed Tahitian dances. Dancers were recruited from Jack's classes and I felt they looked better than some of the dancers who came here from the Polynesian Islands.
The audience was so appreciative; it was as if the dancers and the audience were one. The group thoroughly enjoyed performing at the I and the audience throroughly enjoyed them. Except for the men in the group, most of the women took belly dance classes in addition to their Tahitian dance classes. One type of dance complements the other, and the women were able to keep their muscles in tone by taking classes frequently. In order to move like that, they surely had to! They had fun when they performed; they had fun when they went to class. They also went to classes just for the sheer joy of movement, the type of thing that dancing is all about. You don't have to think anymore. All you had to do is feel -- feel and enjoy! It is one of the few experiences that is there for the moment. It doesn't last like a painting or a recording, but it is there for the moment only. Those people who have danced can understand what I am talking about.
Rouben Hovhanessian's group also performed for the special Saturday event, doing dances from that ancient land of Armenia, where they have danced and sung back to pre-recorded time. There's something mystical about them.
Each of the dance performances lasted only a short time so the crowd danced and danced toward dawn. That had become, over the years, a tradition at The Intersection -- to dance till dawn. Two times a year, one time before Easter, they danced till dawn and then went to Easter Sunrise Services. The other time was during our Anniversary Celebrations on Saturday nights. But, on this Saturday, the dancers didn't quite make it till dawn; they only danced till 5:30 in the morning! Sunday was the wind-down day of the Celebration.
I've tried to give you an idea of what The Intersection was all about over the last ten years without going into detail. The Intersection was a place in time to alieve those things that must be done in your daily life to get away from it all and to have that moment to yourself -- a place to enjoy that inner part of your being with others so that, somehow, your roots could get connected with those of the ancients. At The Intersection, you could become disconnected from the computers.
If you were feeling a little bit down, you could come to The Intersection, where there was always a pot of coffee, wonderful music, friendly hearts, and dancing feet. You could find that it really was an oasis -- a place to get back that which you had lost in your daily grind of the existing world. It was a place to renew your spirit.
The foregoing was transcribed by Dick Oakes from the narration by Rudy Dannes added to a video which had been made at The Intersection during it's 10th Anniversary Celebration in 1974.