FolkFire Articles

July / August 1998

  • Gypsy Dance Party Comes to St. Louis
  • The Changing of the Guard
  • Health Time, Summer in the City - Part 1
  • What is the Folk Alliance, Anyway?
  • New Venue for You
  • FolkFireHome
  • Index of Articles

  • Gypsy Dance Party Comes to St. Louis

    by Hannah Chervitz
    Modern Gypsy music blends thrilling rhythms and both acoustic and electric instruments with emotional lyrics and vocal improvisations. The effect is a powerful, upbeat style of music excellent for parties and dancing.
    Now the St. Louis community has an opportunity to hear the roots of this new tradition live at a dance party, with music by the Macedonian Gypsy singer Esma Redzhepova and the Ansambl Teodosievski.
    Anyone hearing this compelling form of music will find it hard to sit still for long. Like the music, Gypsy dance is very open to improvisation and personal expression. The most common dance form, the cocek or kjuchek, is done to a specific syncopated rhythm. It can be danced alone, with a partner, or in a joined line. The individual form is the Balkan version of belly dance. It is often danced by two men or two women together as a chance to improvise and show off for each other and onlookers.
    Between a couple, it can take shape as a dance of courtship. In lines, it is an easy, natural social dance.
    Esma Redzhepova, billed as "Queen of Romani Music," is acclaimed as the most influential Gypsy singer in the world. She was born in Skopje, Macedonia, to a Romani Muslim and Jewish family. She began performing professionally at the age of thirteen, and since then she has been the recipient of such prestigious awards as the Star of the Parisian Olympia, Artist of the Yugoslav Republic, and several gold records. She was the first artist to make Gypsy music popular worldwide. Her improvisation skills have been compared to those of Ella Fitzgerald; her voice called “seamless.”
    During more than three decades of work, the Ansambl Teodosievski has performed over 8,000 concerts, 1,000 of these to benefit Roma humanitarian causes. The Ensemble’s international tours include Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, India, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States. Esma and the Ensemble have performed in five films, and they have appeared regularly on television and radio throughout Europe and the Middle East. After being unable to tour for many years due to the war in the former Yugoslavia, this dynamic group was enthusiastically received by audiences across the U.S. during last year’s American tour. This will be their first St. Louis performance.
    Esma Redzhepova and the Ansambl Teodosievski will appear at 8:00 pm on July 14 at the St. Louis Tap Room. Whether you are a dancer or a fan of world music, or both, this is truly an event not to be missed. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. For information or advance tickets contact Barbara Bleisch at 230-0003 or Hannah Chervitz at 863-0856.
    More information on Esma Redzhepova and Ansambl Teodosievski is available at
    The Changing of the Guard
    With over 100 ballots collected, the most interesting election in FolkFire history is over, and we now have a new working board. We are pleased to welcome Gloria Bilchik, from Israeli folk dancing, and Gretchen Tomazic, from the IFDA, as our newest members. We look forward to working with them, and seeing how FolkFire will continue to grow and change. We also say farewell to Andrew Limanni, one of the original founders of the newsletter, and someone who has devoted much of his time and energy to making the newsletter what it is today. It won’t be the same without him. Thanks for reading. As always, we welcome ideas for improvement or changes, articles and topics, reviews and subjects, or ways in which you’d like to volunteer. (For a listing of all current board members, see the opposite column.)
    Health Time, Summer in the City - Part 1

    by Karen Jackson
    Well, summer is here, bringing all kinds of great activities. Swimming, hiking, boating, biking, gardening and, of course, extra dancing! One only has to look through FolkFire to see the many available activities. How can we choose? It’s tempting to do them all. And, if you’re like me, once started, it’s hard to stop. Which can result in very sore muscles. Also, exhausting ourselves can lead to illness. No fun at all! I often rely on ibuprofen or aspirin to defy the aches. For illness or exhaustion, I collapse, turning to my herbs and vitamins. Dr. Bill Russell (see ad on pg. 6) has an even better idea: prevention. Much of the following advice is culled from his "Performance Health" newsletter. Most of this is common sense, but we all need reminders sometimes. Keep it in mind as you’re having a great time this summer.
    Next issue, look for part 2: Warm-ups for dancers (also applicable to other sports). Until then - stay well and happy summer!
    What is the Folk Alliance, Anyway?

    by Ellen Light
    An energetic body whose members are performers, agents, media, record companies, merchandisers, presenters and others actively promoting and fostering culturally diverse traditional and contemporary folk music, dance and related performing arts.
    Formed in 1989, the Folk Alliance was created to increase public awareness of the vital artistic and cultural importance of folk music and dance, create new and better opportunities for all those who make these expressions possible, and to enrich those whose lives are enhanced by folk performance and participation.
    Consider joining this vital organization and become an important part of a movement to strengthen and spread the extraordinary traditions of folk music and dance. In a world of expanding technology, all folk expressions—traditional and contemporary—are at once enduring and fragile and demand the strength that only a united community can provide. By becoming a member, you share the common bonds of an unparalleled network of folk activities and communication.
    Folk Alliance members converge annually in a different city in North America - proving that the "business of folk music" is not an oxymoron. Among the exciting highlights of every conference are an array of educational and business networking opportunities including: Panels & Workshops - Performance Showcases - Lifetime Achievement Awards - Open Mikes, Dances & Jam Sessions - Crash Courses - Advanced Workshops - Huge Exhibit Hall - Endless opportunities to form new friendships & strengthen old ones.
    The next annual conference will be held in Albuquerque at the end of February ’99.
    For information about membership write:
    North American Folk Music & Dance Alliance
    962 Wayne Ave, suite 902
    Silver Spring, MD 2091Folk Alliance,
    Phone 301-588-8185 Fax 301-588-8186 email: , or check the Folk Alliance website at
    link updated 6/15/2001 by
    New Venue for You

    by Donna Eckberg
    It is important to support live music at local night clubs in order for them to survive. Enjoyable places to frequent include the Off Broadway Club at Lemp & Broadway, St. Louis Brewery & Taproom at 21st and Locust, and the Broadway Oyster Bar (patio) at 736 S. Broadway. These clubs offer live music, good beer and wine selections, sometimes food and a user friendly attitude with room to dance.
    Add a new venue to the list, which features exciting local and touring acts, some appearing for their first time in St. Louis. The Soulard Ale House at Soulard & 9th streets, has what you need for a night out on the town. Amenities include good food, a plethora of tasty beers, dance area and live music. Partner/manager Bud Jostes greets you at the door and works the room to make your visit a pleasure. The club’s events line, 436-1819, is updated weekly.
    When you’re ready to go out be sure to check the Donna Line at PRO-FOLK or 314-776-3655 (disconnected 3/2001), press 3 & 2 for tips on the week’s entertainment.