May 9, 1970

PRESENT:Athan KarrasSara Miller
Rudy DannesJean Hofman
Rubi VucetaDick Oakes
Nick VarvitsiotisLinda Oakes
Susan FriedhofCharlotte Kiwas
ABSENT:Helen Malinovitch
Helena Kalianiotis
Tom Bozigian

The meeting was called to order by Rudy Dannes who asked for additions or corrections to the meeting notes of 4/18/70. The question list from the last meeting was to be discussed and it was decided to handle the questions one by one.

Athan commented that as a result of the last meeting there had been a temendous improvement in practically every night. While it was not clear how much the meeting had to do with it, indications were that the meeting had helped.


Rudy asked each person with an evening to talk about it.


Dick commented that each teacher should just be himself and that having the Advanced Class first works out well for him.

ATHAN KARRAS -- Thursday Night -- GREEK

Athan noted that teaching in coffee-houses differs from teaching in folk dance groups, Institutes, etc. In coffee-houses you seek to involve people in dancing, therefore it is important to make beginners feel that they are doing something. Keep talk to a minimum. Introduce new dances and new music to old dances.

RUBI VUCETA -- Wednesday Night -- BALKAN

Rubi feels the importance of making it your own evening and not patterning afer another. For a while she catered to the people tht came, but decided to change to her own type of evening and develop the type of class that she wanted. She limits the advanced class strictly to advanced people. Each person should keep what works successfully for them. This makes that particular night special and certain nights come to mean specific things to people. Wednesday night she feels it is important to kep the evening alive by playing records rather than tapes because on the Balkan evening you need to feel the "pulse" of the people there and play what is hot. This means you must be front and center all the time which is very exciting.


Nick said that it's a special kind of evening -- all the people that you don't want come down to my class, so I have nothing to worry about, just start them off. Most of them don't know how to move. He tries to teach as throroughly as possible and go into a lot of detail even beore putting on the music, teaching only 3 or 4 dances a night.

Athan mentioned that many people who were not catching on at the Thursday night class get discouraged and come to the Sunday night class which is designed for more detail. A solid class is developing on Sunday nights now.


Charlotte has been trying to be more detailed with more repetition on the steps and feels that people are getting more out of it that way. With only one class, she feels she is getting more success just going through 2 or 3 dances. The evening is building and people are coming back who know the dances so that she does not have to get in every single dance and lead it. She suggested that it might be interesting to have live music some evening, particularly the accordion.

Athan said that if the development that has taken place on Monday nights continues, we should again be ready for a second class. One encouraging thing about Monday nights is the development of an after-crowd. A percentage of those people are going to be encouraged to come to the class even if not the very next week. A class will always be down without an after-crowd to draw from.

Rubi brought up the question of whether Charlotte had noticed a difference in teaching in coffee-houses and Hillel, for instance. Charlotte replied that there was a vast difference -- the environment is different. At Hillel where there are about 100 people, it is not possible to really go into detail since it takes about 20 minutes to teach one dance. In a coffee-house you can really work with individuals, correct people, and take much more time. She feels that now she goes much slower and works more on styling.


Sara commented on the problems of teaching children. Rather than try to get them to learn everything perfectly, she attempts to get them to enjoy themselves. She has found rest periods helpful, letting them sing, letting them lead the dances. The age range in her class is 3-12.

Athan mentioned the difficulty of coping not only with the children, but also with the parents. Both have to be interested.

Rudy felt that some discretion should be exercised as to who joins the class. Parents of a three year old should be told that is too young for the class. This would actually help build the class since it would not have to be slowed down to the 3 year old level. The age range should be 6-12 or 7-12.

Athan commented that 6 had been selected as school age.

Sara said that she had found it much more successful not to be stern, but to joke with that children and make them feel comfortable.

Charlotte has taught 8-9 year olds and found that they do not have a long attention span. Sometimes it was necessary if they wanted to run around, to let them run around.


Rudy's evening is specifically geared for those people who are coming for the first time to folk dancing. His interest is not that they learn a specific dance but rather that they can dance. This is not something that each of the other teachers should emphasize, but something he should emphasize. Each week 80% are new people who come to try folk dancing. There is great fluctuation in the class, perhaps more than any other. Because of this factor he tries to teach a little bit of every type of dance and emphasizes that these dances are taught other nights of the week. There is a circle of 150 dances that he teaches which he covers in 6 weeks (16 dances a night, 8 per class). He keeps talk to a minimum except for an occasional joke to help them relax -- "I can't tell my right foot from my left" -- which is the very problem they are having. He teaches to the middle level. It is very irritating to have interruptions over some little thing going on outside of the teaching. He is always aware of the people and tries to push them to their farthest capability. On Saturdays there is anywhere from 20 to 70 people; there is a steady crowd of people developing, about 20% regulars. He teaches them the same dances over and over; they keep coming but they really aren't getting anything more.

Rubi commented that there are people who don't really want to learn a dance -- they only want to relearn it; that way they don't have to think. Dick mentioned that he has the same thing with people who take his advanced class and then take the second class because they say they always learn something. Nick said that some people are not interested specifically in dancing; they are interested in the exercise or have the idea "to take a class" in anything.


Rubi suggested that we phrase this question "what would be desirable in communicating with class participants?" Dick felt that Rudy's point about teaching to the mid-level was valid, but Rubi mentioned the problem she had had teaching to mid-level. Rudy pointed out that the two classes were entirely different. People in Rubi's classes were there to learn Balkan dance; people in Rudy's class were to learn that they have a left foot and a right foot and can move in rhythm to music. Once you commit yourself to an advanced class then you should be willing to take whatever the teacher gives you because you have already gone through the beginning stages. Judy and Charlotte both mentioned the necessity of another step to reach for. Rudy reiterated the idea of a challenge in an advanced class to see what you can bring out of them. After dancers feel they have gotten all they can out of advanced classes, there is the Exhibition Training Class.

On the topic of communicating with the class, a pertinent question was raised by Rubi -- "Is your class dependent on you or can it function independently of you?" Generally it was felt that it was better if the class could function independently of the teacher. It was easier on the teacher and the class felt they were getting more out of it. You should be able to generate excitement but be able to leave the arena and have the excitement continue.


Dick said that he did not think he had a following; that people came because they liked his teaching style. Rubi said that was a following; it didn't have to be that they were crazy about him but that they liked what he gave. Dick commented that some teachers would have people there if all they did was clap all night. Rudy said that that, however, is not a good kind of following.

As far as why people become interested in folk dancing, Dick felt it takes their minds of the mundane problems of the day. Charlotte mentioned as reasons: exercise, release of tension, social (to meet people), spirit of soul, intellectual (to learn something about the culture through the dance).


Dick felt the bench near the record booth was bad and should be taken out and coat hooks put on the wall instead. He also mentioned a need for a fan in the booth. The atmosphere at the "I" is good; it draws people, as do the many functions. He doesn't like to feel that it is necessary to stay to keep the evening going but feels it must be tailored to the people there. It is a chore to run the program afterwards in the hope that people will come next week. Last time he tried an experiment of taking all the tables and chairs out on the patio. This had people standing rather than lounging and many more danced.

Rudy said it was his evening and could try it to see how it worked out. Dick felt that he would rather that no one came in during the class who had not paid for the class because they were, in effect, taking it anyway. Athan felt we couldn't be over-militant about it, but could get the idea across without destroying the atmosphere. Rudy said that if people were dancing on the sidelines it was the function of the person at the door to tell them to stop or pay. Usually they won't take the class because they feel they are too good to take the class, but that person brings other people. Dick suggested that if they come during the first class, they must pay; for the second class it did not matter so much. Rubi brought up the fact that they had other closed classes and perhaps they should let him experiment. The matter was tabled to be discussed later with Rudy and Athan.

Charlotte mentioned also that she disliked being there until 11:30 playing records. It seemed that when she left the evening was over and she felt badly that it was ending that early. Athan felt that this is the function of the tapes. Teachers should get together with them to make good balanced tapes to carry on when they leave. The records should be checked and Rudy and Athan told what records are needed. When a teacher leaves, the exit should be inconspicuous. Leave during a dance not at the end. Many people may not want to leave, but feel they have to go when the teacher leaves.

Dick said that the Intersection had a good reputation of things doing. He suggested having an Institute, staffed only by Intersection teachers on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, pre-taped and with printed programs, with events, song fests, demonstrations, special sandwiches, etc.

Charlotte felt this would be a good idea. She usually can't teach Israeli couple dances because she doesn't have enough couples, but with publicity (Bring Your Partner) there could be a good turnout.

Athan made several announcements during the course of the meeing. He had a meeting with Dani Dassa regarding the evening Dani had taught there. While he had supposed that most of the new people that were there had come from Cafe Danssa, Dani said thay were new to him, too. Rudy said many had probably responded to the publicity campaign. Athan also mentinoed a party to be held on Sunday night coming up and mentioned that occassionally we do pick up a few people that way. Also there is a class from the American School of Dance which the "I" has been asked to host. It would be one session a week for 10-12 weeks; not high paying (75¢/pupil, 15-30 people). It would help us gain reputation as leader in the ethnic dance world. He would like each teacher who is interested to take 2 or 3 weeks. It would be on Thursday nights after July 4th.