Klezmer band tries new steps

November 02, 2006|By Brooke Nevils | Brooke Nevils,sun reporter

Charlotte Giza, lead singer of Baltimore band Klezazz, is ready to branch out.

"We're primarily a klezmer band," she says. "We play Yiddish and Hebrew songs from Eastern Europe, the kind of music that formed in small communities and came out of what was happening in their lives and really rings in your heart. We really want to get out in the community and reach people that might not know what klezmer music was."

Klezazz recently performed at the Baltimore Museum of Art's First Thursday, but despite the event's success, Giza still felt something was missing.

"We've been mainly a performance band so far, but people hear our music and want to dance. Audiences have been asking for a dance leader -- so we're trying to focus on becoming a dance band as well, and to incorporate more folk dances into our repertoire."

Similarly, as her sister -- Emily Socolinsky, director of the Kinetics Dance Theatre in Ellicott City -- began planning Sunday's annual International Dance Festival, she felt that live music was missing from the festival's workshops of cultural dance. The day-long celebration includes Latin, ballroom dancing, Israeli folk dancing, belly dancing, Irish step and African dance.

Since Israeli folk dance draws on so many cultural traditions, Socolinsky felt supplementing the Israeli workshop with a live klezmer band would create the ideal centerpiece of the day's events.

"I thought, what a great thing to have," Socolinsky says. "Here we have this Baltimore-based klezmer band, why not invite them to bring to life Israeli folk dance with live music? It's high energy, it's community-oriented. Let's bring the community together."

"Traditionally, these dances are done to live music," says Megan Freedman, the instructor for the Israeli dance workshop. "None of the steps are extremely complicated, but it's a lot of fun, and you can also appreciate the tradition of where things come from. It pulls in the traditions and cultures of Jews and Israelis coming in all over the world -- African, Spanish and Eastern European customs are all incorporated in. It's a great way to celebrate all these cultures coming together."

The workshop will include background information on the dances. "The kind of dance we'll be doing is akin to a lot of the dances that you would see in more of a celebration atmosphere," she says. "I'll spend a little time mentioning the history of the hora, or explaining what the words are saying. There are always a couple of dances that people really enjoy, but the recording only goes through it twice. With the live band, we can move on whenever we're ready, so people can enjoy themselves." Klezazz has the same goal in mind.

"We do it for fun, because we love the music," Giza says. "We're all from Baltimore, we range in ages, we all have day jobs. We have a music teacher, a psychiatrist, a lawyer -- but we do it for fun, to share."

The International Dance Festival is noon-4 p.m. Sunday at Kinetics Dance Theatre, 3280 Pine Orchard Lane in Ellicott City. Tickets are $1, or $10 for 12. Dance workshops are four tickets for 30 minutes and 8 tickets for an hour. For children 10 and younger, workshops are half-price. All other activities, including crafts, face painting and an obstacle course, are one ticket each. Call 410-480-1686 or go to kineticsdance.org for more information.

brooke.nevils@baltsun.com

Event schedule

Latin and Traditional Ballroom Dancing with Laurie Anderson:

noon-1 p.m.

Belly Dancing with Brenda Peterson:

2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Hula Dancing for younger children:

2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Israeli Folk Dancing with Megan Freedman and live music by Klezazz:

1 p.m.-2 p.m.

Irish Step with Allison Talvacchio:

3 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

African Dance with Akosua Kankam:

3:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

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