A Look Back
By Athan Karras
The Intersection story is probably better known by those who frequented the folk dance center through the years than I who was immersed in the management end. There is no need to review all the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the great moments and the many late evenings we danced into the night; the stories left behind by the thousands who visited us over the years. It will be hard to enumerate the great teachers who taught there, the personalities, and the neophytes we developed, the musicians who became pros, and the many functions we tried to embrace in the folk culture idioms and the ethnic communities.
The Intersection was constantly striving to become a beautiful weaving of intersecting cultures. In some cases we achieved it; in other cases we only superficially touched it, but in every case we tried to create an authentic atmosphere. But the story goes deeper because it deals with people. For many, it became a second home -- a place to dance and be themselves.
The closing of The Intersection certainly does not signal the demise of folk dancing, but rather a beginning. This marks the beginning for so many who wanted to learn. The seeds of what was planted there have spread to other precincts and will continue to grow in many directions until such time as the exchange and true understanding of these cultural experiences have become a part of our commercial society. My feeling is that in order for these cultural forms to truly survive and continue, they must enter the fabric of our society as contemporary functions and not as preserved entities of the past. I'd like to think that my own personal direction in Greek dance has done just that -- opened the doors for so many to embrace as an ongoing vital experience and not a thing of the past.
Very often teachers and outstanding dance specialists tend to focus on their personalities, and though they are terrific dancers and experts in their field, they do not go beyond to establish deep enough roots so that the material will stand on its own. A 'personality cult' is created and the material is so strongly identified with the teacher, that without the teacher it almost ceases to exist. We neglect to understand that folk material is not original, but has its origins in the roots of a culture. We, as deacons of that heritage, need to pass it on to others with equal excitement and enthusiasm. We are the keepers of the keys only as long as that particular form lives within ourselves.
No doubt there will be much speculation as to why The Intersection closed, what it could have been, what it should have been, where we succeeded or failed, etc. Without a doubt, the speculations will probably all be correct. It is not important to try to find fault with any single issue or any group. The success story is that it existed and survived twenty years in a time when other more significant things have come and gone.
The Intersection is not dead -- certainly not as long as people and cultures continue to coexist harmoniously in our nation and are willing to accept each other as brother and sister and to learn to appreciate each other's traditions and to culturally intersect.
It is with this in mind that we strive to focus on our folk songs, dances, music, folk arts, food, and all the riches that our ancestors left behind as a legacy for the future and a testament to celebrate LIFE!
Used with permission of the author.