I’ve been writing and rewriting a manuscript on Nepal for at least ten years and am ready to be done with it, but I’m not. I have to dig in and do some really hard work revising pieces that grew stale for me a long time ago. I’ve been over the same material many times and am not inspired to nitpick and polish it anymore.
Or maybe I’m just a bit glum because I haven’t seen the sun for awhile.
In any case, I’ve been needing some inspiring physical exertion, something that does not involve a treadmill or stairmaster. I’ve decided to dabble again in physical activity I fell in love with around the age of eight: Balkan Dancing. There’s something about the hypnotic asymmetrical rhythms, the complicated footwork, and the group effort of the line dance that pulls me out of my head and into the moment.
My mostly absent father introduced me to Balkan dancing in Seattle. It’s one of the few activities we ever shared. He belonged to a Balkan dance troupe – Koleda (which later became Radost Folk Ensemble).For several years in the late 60s, I took dance lessons every Saturday morning. I kept the Hungarian outfit I wore to special events long after I grew out of it.
I’ve returned to Balkan dancing on and off over the years. I even performed with a dance troupe at Stanford University for awhile. But I’ve always had too many divergent interests to become good at any one thing.
There’s a lot to contemplate in my history with Balkan dancing. Is is what led me into anthropology? How much like my eccentric and mostly absent father am I? How can I enjoy the dancing so much and not consider the history of violence in the region? Should I learn Bulgarian or Romanian and take up a new line of study? But then I remember that’s my problem: too much thinking, too many questions. I just need to give my mind and body over to the complex sequence of grapevines, yemenite steps, slow quick quicks, with a pas de bas here and a stomp there. I need to move and sweat. And then the following morning, I can sit in front of my computer again and exterminate adverbs and decimate wordy paragraphs with renewed passion and energy.
Interested in Balkan Dancing in Portland? Visit www.balkandancing.com.