Fold dancers enjoy publicity
By Lakshmana Rao
The MIT Folk Dance Club's performances today and tomorrow will mark the height of a recent surge in the group's popularity. Much of the improvement stems from efforts by the Office of the Associate Provost for the Arts to increase awareness of student art groups.
The provost's office "has done a tremendous job in integrating us into their publicity and have been very encouraging in all [it11p,0] respects," said Lenore J. Cowen G, president of the Folk Dance Club. "A few years ago the whole world knew about us but people at MIT did not even know that we existed. All that has changed now."
[it0,0] A number of events reflect the club's higher profile, including this week's participation in a student dance exhibit sponsored by the MIT Dance Workshop and a presentation at the Commencement Ball.
Folk dancing has
a long history at MIT
The MIT Folk Dance Club was formally recognized as a student activity about 25 years ago, when folk dance culture was gaining popularity throughout the United States.
"With the big explosion of interest in the world music and other cultures in the late sixties and early seventies, a lot of people were excited about the dances in the village culture of other countries, especially Eastern Europe," Cowen said.
"You don't need to have ballet dance training to be able to go into folk dancing, because it was designed for ordinary people, not dancers. Also, once you get excited about it, you can explore it as a dance form," she added.
The MIT Folk Dance Club sponsors three nights of dancing per week at MIT. The club sponsors Israeli dancing on Wednesdays, international dancing on Sundays and advanced Balkan
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dancing on Tuesdays. Beginners are welcome at these sessions, and there is an early teaching period starting at 7:00 pm. According to Cowen, approximately 100 people turn up on Sunday and Wednesday nights, 35 to 50 of whom are MIT students and faculty.
Though Sundays are termed international dancing nights, Cowen said a more accurate name would be East and West European dancing with additions from the Middle East. "We have only a few African dances and we don't know of any Asian dances. If anyone wants to come and teach us a Korean or African or other dance which could fit into our format, we would be excited."
The Folk Dance Club also sponsors dance workshops by visiting artists throughout the year and a special workshop on waltzes and similar dances during Independent Activities Period. The performing branch of the Folk Dance Club gives public performances from time to time in response to student interest, Cowen said.
Dance space at MIT is limited
Student groups such as the Folk Dance Club often feel they have to compete for the limited amount of performance space available at MIT. "There are so many groups on campus, and the only auditorium is Kresge Auditorium, which is heavily overbooked. There is now a desperate need to build a different auditorium which can be used by various groups for rehearsals as well as performances," Cowen said.
"Student groups on campus have to reserve the facilities at least one year in advance if they want to schedule an event in these auditoriums on a regular weekend," said Patricia B. Murphy, an administrative assistant in the Campus Activities Complex who is responsible for reservations for Kresge and the Sala de Puerto Rico. These are the only spaces on campus certified for theatrical performance by Cambridge safety laws, Murphy said.