Kalispell International Folk Dancers

Dancing Bears
Updated June 16, 2024
Newest dance report

Welcome to the Kalispell International Folk Dancers

Located in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana

We dance Every Saturday: 7 pm to 9

The Early Days Of Steam And Stomp At Boulder Hot Springs

Kalispell is situated in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana, 31 miles from Glacier National Park. If you would like to know more about Kalispell and the Flathead Valley go to The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.

Many members of our group do not live in Kalispell but travel from surrounding areas. The name Flathead Valley Folk dancing tries to convey the broader area our group comes from. We could be the northwest Montana Folk Dancers, but when all is said and done, we dance in Kalispell. Our contact person for our group is Russ Conn, 406 862 3456.

What is International Folk Dancing?

It is the traditional dances of many countries and cultures, from circle dances to line dances to couple dances. It is a chance to enjoy the music, rhythms and dances of countries from around the world. It is a few hours a week of fun for people of all ages. Our group knows many dances from all around the world. I happen to have a Balkan focus. I enjoy Bulgarian and Romanian Folk dances.

How do you tell people what Balkan dancing is?

Well, it’s really line dancing, but not the country/western, "Achy Breaky Heart," type of line dance. That huge 1992 hit song by Billy Ray Cyrus was the rage in country/western dance clubs and bars. The folk dance line dance is literally a line of dancers, holding hands with each other in one of four ways. One is hands held down, in the "V" position. Another is hands held bent at the elbow, in the "W" position. There are front basket holds and back basket holds that are like belt holds but instead of holding on to your neighbor’s belt, you hold hands with the person that is next to your neighbor. Another dance hold is the shoulder hold, done in many Greek and Macedonian dances. Then there is the belt hold. Bring an extra belt to wear around your waist. (We have extras if you forget yours.) Adjacent dancers grab your belt and you grab your neighbors. Your right arm over their left arm, (depending on the direction of travel.) It’s very hard to describe to people how aerobic, challenging, physically tiring, mentally demanding, and musically varied Balkan dancing is.

Are "generic dance forms" such as Syrtos, Kopanica,or Racenica names of steps or rhythms?

They’re rhythms. Kopanica is QQSQQ, Racenica is QQS, Pajdusko is QS, etc. Almost all based on some odd number of beats in a sixteen beat measure, so that Kopanica is in 11/16 time. True, many common Kopanicas use similar steps, but rest assured there is a huge variety; some don’t even have the word Kopanica in their name (Kokice, Makedonska Sedenka) but they are assuredly Kopanicas. These are national dances of Bulgaria; the steps and choreographies vary from town to town and region to region, but the rhythms are constant (and wonderful!).

Common Bulgarian Folk Dance Rhythms

Although the 2/4 rhythm is the most common among Bulgarian folk dance music (Pravo, Triti Puti, Tropanka, Zborenka, Reka, and others), there are also a number of irregular rhythms. As a general rule, these rhythms can be divided into slow counts consisting of 3 beats, and fast counts, consisting of 2 beats.

Č = "ch" sounds like achoo (a sneez)
Š = "sh" sounds like shoot

A "2" is a Quick step
A "3" is a Slow Step

Time signature Count Dancer steps Dance type
2/4 3+2& SQQ (mixed pickles) U Šest
5/16 2+3 QS Paiduško
7/16 2+2+3 QQS Ručenitsa
7/16 3+2+2 SQQ Četvorno/Lesnoto
9/16 2+2+2+3 QQQS Daičovo
9/16 2+3+2+2 QSQQ Gruncarško
11/16 2+2+3+2+2 QQSQQ Kopanitsa/Gankino
12/16 3+2+2+2+3 SQQQS Petrunino
12/16 3+2+2+3+2 SQQSQ Pušnoto
15/16 2+2+2+2+3+2+2 QQQQSQQ Bučimiš
18/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+2) SQQ QQSQQ Jove Molo Mome (7/16+11/16)
25/16 (3+2+2)+(3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+2 SQQ SQQ QQSQQ Sedi Donka (7/16+7/16+11/16)

How Do You Learn the Dances?

No previous experience necessary! Dances are usually taught by local teachers, while guest instructors teach at workshops from time to time throughout the year.

What Will It Mean For Me?

It will mean new friends, good exercise and a challenge for feet and mind alike. It could mean travel to workshops in other cities or countries. It could mean a new interest in music or costume. It will mean an introduction to a whole network of dance. International folk dancing provides the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Sites like The American Cancer Society provide empirical evidence for the benefits of dancing. Clinical reports suggest that dance therapy helps in developing body image; improving self-concept and self-esteem; reducing stress, anxiety, and depression; decreasing isolation, chronic pain, and body tension; and increasing communication skills and feelings of well being. Some of the physical motions of dance therapy can be useful exercise that provides the health benefits produced by exercise. Physical activity is known to increase special neurotransmitter substances in the brain (endorphins) which create a state of well being. And total body movement enhances the functions of other body systems, such as the circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, and muscular systems. Regular aerobic exercise helps with glucose metabolism, cardiovascular fitness, and weight control. If dance or movement therapy is used in this way, it can confer the same benefits as other types of exercise. Moderate to vigorous exercise for 30 to 45 minutes on most days of the week can reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Dance therapy can help people stay physically fit and enjoy the pleasure of creating rhythmic motions with their bodies. Well-controlled research is needed, however, to confirm the effects of dance therapy on prevention of and recovery from other types of illness. I can tell you, from personal experience, dancing improves your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.