FolkFire May/June 1996 Issue Articles

  • Free Legal and Accounting Help for the Arts
  • Salsa: Some Like it Hot
  • 17th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival Features Stories of Hope and Harmony
  • The St. Louis G.T.E.V. D'Froehliche Schuhplattlers
  • Attention Contra Dancers!
  • FolkFire Success Stories
  • FolkFireHome

  • Free Legal and Accounting Help for the Arts
    by Sue Greenberg,
    Executive Director of St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts

    A musician has a copyright question. A dance organization wants to incorporate. The general manager of a new theatre company needs help setting up a bookkeeping system. Where do they turn? These artists and administrators can contact the St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA).


    Through VLAA , more than 200 accountants and lawyers offer counsel to artists and administrators who are asking for help in record numbers. Each year VLAA volunteers donate approximately $40,000 in pro bono services to the metropolitan area arts community. They help painters, poets, musicians, playwrights, photographers, illustrators, dancers, crafts groups, theatre companies, orchestras, art galleries, and others.

    For arts organizations, VLAA’s caseload most often includes obtaining nonprofit and tax-exempt status and setting up bookkeeping systems. VLAA is proud to have provided these start-up services to more than 60 groups, including Burning Feet, FolkFire, Portfolio, RiverFaces, Stages, Tapsichore, and several community arts councils. Individual artists (who must be low-income to qualify for free help) typically receive assistance in protecting intellectual property, reviewing contracts or leases, and record keeping. Among those who recently benefited from VLAA’s pro bono services were a sculptor who needed help with a contract to do business with a foundry & a self-employed musician/composer seeking advice about taxes.

    Artists who are ineligible for free services because their incomes exceeds VLAA’s guidelines, may obtain a list of lawyers or accountants with expertise in their problem.

    Educational Programs

    Because familiarity with arts law and business practices can help avoid legal and accounting problems, VLAA has an extensive education program. Seminars typically focus on nuts-and-bolts information such as protecting copyrights, negotiating contracts, or preparing budgets. VLAA also provides speakers to educational and professional organizations, contributes articles to a wide variety of periodicals, publishes easy-to-understand guides on issues affecting St. Louis artists and arts organizations, a monthly newsletter that is mailed to 350 nonprofit arts organizations in Missouri, and maintains a resource library.

    Arts Resolution Services

    In 1996, VLAA will initiate an arts mediation service designed to help artists and arts organizations resolve their disputes outside the court system in an informal and conciliatory atmosphere. Workshops in negotiation skills and meeting facilitation will complement the mediation service. They will encourage the arts community to conduct business in a manner directed at avoiding misunderstandings.


    VLAA collaborates with other agencies in promoting the arts by conducting and disseminating research on issues affecting the cultural community and by supporting legislation designed to foster the arts. A current example is a committee working on a bill that would encourage street performance in downtown St. Louis.
    If you’d like help with this effort or would like further info on VLAA’s services, call 314/652-2410.

    Salsa: Some Like it Hot
    by Martha Edwards

    We were all there: Thor and Kelly and Abed and Jane and Michelle and Patrick and Gaby and Margaret and Ronan and our new friend George and I. We were catching our breath and downing endless glasses of cool liquids at the edge of our great St. Louis Casa Loma dance floor. We weren’t quite a perfect microcosm of the people who do Latin dancing in St. Louis, (we should have been at least half Hispanic) but we still would have made a great UN poster. Our collective skin was black and white and in between, and our hair was black, and brown, and red, and blonde. Like the table condiment for which it is named, "Salsa" music and its dancers are quite a mix.

    We have been blessed in St. Louis for about five years with two really good Latin Salsa bands, El Caribe Tropicale and Solucion Latina. The handsome, smooth-dancing, half-Mexican, half-Irish leader of El Caribe Tropicale, Matteo, formed the band from musicians he met through his radio show on KDHX. They would get together to jam, and formed the band in late 1990. As if by magic, two other bands appeared within a three-month period, Solucion Latina and Goza (a Latin jazz band), and the Latin scene suddenly exploded. Matteo started tirelessly promoting Latin dance music in St. Louis, booking his band into clubs, and talking up Latin dance music on KDHX (still on Saturdays at 3:30 pm.) The first time he put on a show with live bands at Casa Loma, over 800 people showed up! Wonderful crowds still show up at Casa Loma for hot, hot dancing to our local very good bands.

    Salsa as a dance is a little like four-count swing dancing, or street swing (and a lot like the Mambo). St. Louis swing dancers have six-count swing permanently etched in muscle memory, so there can be some unlearning to do, but many of the great swing moves can be applied to Salsa. To learn to do it, just go to a dance and watch, or check out some local dance studios. Just Dancing has a Latin class on Sunday nights, and there are always lessons before the dances at Casa Loma. Be nice to me and I’ll give you a phone number for Kelly Brown, who teaches a great class in Salsa in University City - beginners on Thursday and Really, Really Advanced (at least that’s what it feels like) on Saturdays. I first danced to El Caribe Tropical down in the Links Club a couple of years ago with one of our more stylish local dancers and lost my heart to him for a long time. So be careful when you go Latin dancing. It’s dangerous.

    17th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival Features Stories of Hope and Harmony
    by Angie Antonopoulos

    "Stories of hope, reconciliation, peace, and harmony serve as an antidote to the violence prevalent in the world today. A simple tale, well told, can create and strengthen community, can teach us to celebrate our differences and uniqueness, and can illuminate the threads that bind us all as part of the human family." -Nan Kammann, Festival Director

    Seven nationally known storytellers and more than 50 regional storytellers, representing many ethnic groups, will spin a wide variety of stories for all ages in the 17th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival, Wednesday, May 1, through Saturday, May 4. All events are free. Performances will take place in the Visitor Center under the Gateway Arch, at the Old Courthouse, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Missouri Historical Society, city and county parks and libraries, St. Charles parks, and other sites throughout the metropolitan area. Certain performances are interpreted for the deaf.

    Featured storytellers are Mark Allen Branson, Texas; Gladys Coggswell, Missouri; Leigh McGee, Missouri; Angela Lloyd, California; Liz Weir, Northern Ireland; Wolfsong, Vermont; and Warren Wyman, Washington. A Special Saturday Night Performance, including all the featured storytellers, will be held for the general public at 7:00 pm, May 4, in the Visitor Center under the Gateway Arch.

    The Storytelling Workshop, featuring Gladys Coggswell, will be held on Wednesday, May 1, from 4-:00 to 5:30 pm in the J.C. Penney Conference Center on the UM-ST. Louis campus. A Storytelling Workshop for the Deaf, featuring Mark Allen Branson, will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2:OO pm, at the Missouri Historical Society. For reservations for either event, please call (314) 516-5948.

    Major sponsors of the Festival are the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Arts and Sciences, Continuing Education & Outreach; the National Park Service at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; city and county parks and libraries; and several other organizations. This program is made possible by a grant from the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, along with their corporate partner, Union Electric Co., and with support from The Regional Arts Commission.

    The St. Louis G.T.E.V. D'Froehliche Schuhplattlers
    by Leland McClure

    'The G.T.E.V.
    D'Froehliche Schuhplattlers are a dance group dedicated to the preservation of the dance, music and traditional culture of Germany. This style of dancing, called Schuhplattler (shoe-plot-ler) dates back to the 900s and originated in the mountainous regions of Bavaria, As the name implies, slapping of the shoes by the men is incorporated into dance patterns which originally imitated the mating rituals of the mountain wood cock or the "Auerbahn". From, one generation to the next, these dances have been passed on to provide us with a rich cultural heritage.

    The dancers wear authentic costumes (Tracht) which originate from the town of Miesbach. "Trachten Dirndls" worn by the ladies are hand-made and often accented with silver dowry coins. The men wear leather pants called "Lederhosen." Traditional hats worn by both the men and the ladies are set with long white feathers. Down to the tips of our shoes, these costumes reflect a regional style of dress which dates back centuries.

    The G.T.E.V. name stands for "Gebirgs-Trachten-Erhaltungs-Verein" or the "club which preserves the traditions of the "mountain people". Founded in 1976,our group has evolved through close ties with the D'Oberlanders from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our membership in the Gauverband Nordamerika organization allows us to participate in and share access to traditional Schuhplattler dances, music and costumes from around the world. In a given year, we may participate in as many as 50 regional and international events as well as sponsor two dances which are St. Louis favorites, the Fruhlingsfest and the Herbstfest.

    Hearing and seeing the group is only part of the story. Come join us at our practice sessions and share the music, dance and cultural traditions of Bavaria. For more information about our group, meeting time and latest current events, check out the calendar schedule and group information sections here in FolkFire.

    Attention Contra Dancers!
    or, Pre-contra courtesy
    by Dan Klarmann

    At the coming Kimmswick (and other dances), let’s try something which is popular on the coasts: Let’s take hands four! There is no reason not to double up as the lines form; whether proper or improper. This way the walk-through can begin without the usual wasted several minutes for the "fours" to get to the bottom. Note to callers: If there are enough experienced dancers, just assume hands four. If you just begin the walk through, we’ll get the idea. and have that many extra minutes for dancing.

    FolkFire Success Stories
    by Lynn DeVries

    Lately, we’ve had a lot of good news about FolkFire’s success. Last issue, one of the new groups we added was the Hawaiian Polynesian Revue. I got a call from the group’s leader, Linda Evans when the issue had only been out a couple of days, and she had already received several calls about the group. According to Linda, the new people did hear about them through FolkFire!

    Two issues ago, we ran a review of the Rock and Roll Hardees. Because of our review, the restaurant had people walking in with copies of FolkFire and Channel 5 even decided to do a remote broadcast from the site.

    Also two issues ago, we ran an ad for a dance vacation cruise and in the first week of publication, the trip organizers told us that they sold several cruises because of FolkFire.

    Last issue we ran an ad and a listing for the Swing Into Spring Contra Dance Weekend in Bloomington, IN. During the first week, the dance organizers were considering announcing that no one who had not already contacted them would be able to attend. They said that there was response from so many FolkFire readers wanting details about the dance that they were afraid that they might be too crowded to accommodate everyone comfortably.

    We here at FolkFire are always gratified to hear that the time and energy we put into each FolkFire is worthwhile. Thank you for reading and using FolkFire.