New Moon Folk Ball
09/04/2021 - 09/04/2021
A night of celebratory social dance in the vibrant folk tradition of the village fête and the raucous city dance-hall.
The New Moon Folk Ball is an event that will honour the long tradition of social dance associated with West Auckland, particularly the Whatipu Cave dances that took place on the western coast at various times during the last century.
Master-of-dance Michael Parmenter will provide instruction to enable you to safely navigate the floor with confidence and freedom.
With the support of a thrilling live band, the evening will consist of simple and clearly led circle, contra- and partner dances from various traditions, enabling you to rediscover the joy and rich conviviality to be experienced when we dance together.
Michael Parmenter, Claire O'Neil
The joie de vivre of being together.
Review by Jane Luiten 11th Apr 2021
How do you get 200 strangers to hold hands and laugh with each other for the next two and a half hours? Its called Folk Dance, and on Friday night at the New Moon Folk Ball we spun and laughed and danced our way through a medley of Europe’s finest: in lines and circles, with partners and without, swept away in the joie de vivre of being together.
The jam-packed hall made for tight dancing, the partner mixers, like La Chapelloise, three circles thick. The novelty of the occasion for most also meant the repertoire was necessarily simple: no tricky footwork or complex patterns, the Breton Andro, for example, broken down further to make it instantly accessible to all. But one of the biggest thrills of folk dance is that of initiation: watching the evident delight of newcomers to the experience of shared dance. And some of the simplest dances hold within them the greatest capacity for joy: Galope Quebecoise involves a simple walking step followed by an equally uncomplicated spin. How, then, to account for the side-splitting laughter that comes with each change of partner?
The night of festivity was the creation of dance icon Michael Parmenter who, as Master-of-dance, also called each dance. Keeping things clear and brief is one part of dance calling; humour is another. Fortunately Michael has both. He was ably assisted by Claire O’Neil to demonstrate the trickier couple manoeuvres, and by members of Auckland Balfolk, on one occasion, to demonstrate a slightly trickier dance pattern. The attention of the crowd, and their quick grasp of the essentials, also speaks volumes about how much they are enjoying themselves.
For this seasoned folk dancer, a large part of the night’s success was the live music from the scratch band. Accomplished Aotearoa musicians like Craig Denham usually fly north each winter to make music in Europe – this year they have stayed home, and we were all the luckier for it. They delivered a whole evening of dancing heaven, my personal highlight their rendition of ‘Music for a New-Found Harmonium’. Sigh.
Getting New Zealanders to a folk dance is no mean feat. The throng of happy people in Titirangi on Friday night reflects the energy and hard work Michael has put into his new passion for fostering social dance traditions. It builds on the momentum he has created with his weekly balfolk classes in Auckland. But it demonstrates, too, what is possible when these dance traditions receive a breath of life from institutions like the Auckland Arts Festival.
Witness a dance floor full of grown-ups – stone cold sober – throwing themselves with gusto into the simplest of childrens’ party dances, ‘Seven Jumps’. And loving it. A moment of shared magic.
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