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Exploring European Folkdance History

Writing The Dancing Goddesses (W.W. Norton, Jan. 2013) entailed a great deal of research in other languages, especially various forms of Slavic.  In particular I was hunting down sources old enough to contain eye-witness accounts of the traditional dance rituals from before the globalization that began with World War I and continued apace with World War II.  Not only were these books and articles often difficult to come by, but most people in this country are not equipped to read them.  One of the central purposes of this site, then, is to make available to others, especially folkdancers, my translations of some of these fascinating texts, where, in the book, I had space only for summaries and fragmentary quotation (or occasionally, no space at all, resulting in outtakes of interesting subjects).

In Feb.-March of 2008, I grabbed the opportunity to witness a series of pre-Lenten festivals of ancient origin in Greek Macedonia, under the useful guidance of Yvonne Hunt, the well-known teacher of Greek folkdance, who had many acquaintances among the musicians there.  Experiencing these celebrations personally, amidst the villagers, gave me a whole new perspective on the place of traditional dance in rural Europe.  (For one thing, I now look as much at the onlookers as at the direct participants, having come to understand that the village “onlookers” are also very much participants.)  Another purpose of this site, then, is to share the   videos I made at that time, as well as other miscellaneous photographs and images.

I expect also to add new information, texts, and discussion related to the general topic, as I run across them.

E.W. Barber, Feb. 2013