On May 5th, the Alberta Orff Chapter presented a very special sharing day workshop and event. For the first time ever, a house band was formed and performed for a wonderful audience of teachers, their friends and their families.
Both the morning workshop and the family dance took place at the Bellevue Community League Hall. Presenters Jessica Baudin-Griffin and Sherri Birdsell, both teachers with Edmonton Public Schools, were on hand for both the workshop and the dance.
The morning started with a BrainDance style warm-up, led by Jessica, which got everyone up and moving. From there, time was spent with the Fjäskern (a Swedish dance which translated means Hurry Skurry), the Mayim (Israeli dance which translated means water), the Shoemaker Dance (Danish folk Dance), and the Heel and Toe Polka (Brown Jug Polka). The dances were taught with variations given for younger grade groups. All dances were delivered with a fantastic amount of energy and passion and Jessica’s passion for the medium was clearly evident.
After a break, Sherri took the lead with a warm-up activity aimed at Division Two students. Things progressed from the warm-up to the Muffin Man Jig (traditional Berkshire Barn dance), the Troika (Russian folk which translated mean group of three), the Korobushka (Russian folk dance which translated means “little basket” or Peddler’s pack”), and the Virginia Reel (US Folk dance). Again, the dances were given with instructions for appropriate grade levels and adaptations for younger groups. Sherri’s instruction were both warm and inviting and gave the confidence for all to try.
The evening portion was filled with family, fun and dancing accompanied by a wonderful group of musicians in the Orff house band, No Orff Pun! The band consisted of Melanie Smith-Doderai: lead violinist and local music specialist, Rosaleen Kulba: Bassist and local music specialist, Kat Hammer: Guitar & Mandolin and baroque guitar player, Andy Funke: Guitar and local music specialist. The band played songs specifically to accompany the folk dances that were taught in the morning sessions. This allowed those that were present in the morning to help out those that weren’t. One of the significant benefits of having a live band was that they could jump in and out as needed at whatever tempo the dance was being taught in. All in all, this was a very positive experience for all participants.
Once the house band was done, it was the turn of the fiddler and dance caller from La Girandole. It was great to have an opportunity to hear such fantastic fiddle playing accompanied by step dancing. It’s definitely not something you get to hear everyday and it was truly fascinating to watch and listen to. The dances were all traditional French or French Canadian folk dances and were a welcome addition to the evening.
As a first for the Alberta Orff Chapter, this was very much a “try it and see” situation and I think everyone would agree that it was a great success. Thank you to the executive, volunteers and musicians who helped make this a reality!
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