The Friendly FolkDancers

Dancing the World Together


Welcome to the Friendly FolkDancers April 2004 tour of Ireland! Our show is a physical prayer for peace, a true "peace movement." As we perform dances or lead the audience in dancing, we try to get to know the people of other countries of the world. This is our peace-work.


Our performance is made up of sets of dances from peoples and regions that are, or have been, at war. We are symbolically uniting them, trying to build a bridge of understanding and caring as part of the healing necessary for peace. To those in the midst of pain, anger, and fear, even the act of joining their dances with those of "the enemy" can feel threatening or appear insensitive. We intend, rather, that our dancing be seen as a prayer for the well-being of all people. In the tradition of Friends, we go beyond taking sides. Instead, we choose all sides, in that we reach out to embrace all parties to a conflict. The only true victory comes when all parties win.


We begin our program today by selections from among the following sets of dances:


Our No Axis, Only Allies medley draws on dances from the major adversaries of World War II. Those who were the “enemy” in that war are now among our closest allies. Truth, it has been said, is the first casualty of war, and the creation of an evil persona for the enemy is a necessary step in making each side capable of slaughtering the opposing forces. This suite prays for the end of all such demonization, as we are now aware that the characterization of the Germans, Japanese and Italians as evil was only propaganda. Perhaps we can remember that today, as the US government labels Iraq, Iran and North Korea an “axis of evil.” Our set alternates former allies and enemies, beginning with the Russian Bielolitsa Kruglolitsa, followed by the Japanese Tanko Bushi, Picking Up Sticks from England, the German Kreutz König, the French/Breton Gavotte d’honneur, and the Italian Tarantella di Peppina, and concluding with two American dances, Twelfth Street Rag and Salty Dog Rag.


Shalom, Salaam, Peace is our prayer for breaking down the walls of hate and fear around the Holy Land. While we have grown accustomed over the past fifty years to thinking of Arabs and Jews as enemies, these two Semitic peoples enjoyed centuries of peaceful coexistence before the recent era. This medley includes a dance from the United States, because of that country’s ability to tip the balance between peace and war in that part of the world. We begin with the Arabic Debka Oud, and Shibboleth Bassadeh, a harvest dance from Israel. These two cultures are then joined in Ya Abud, a dance featuring Arabic music and steps, the latter choreographed by a Yemenite Israeli. We conclude with Hills of Habersham, an American contra dance performed to the music of Star of the County Down.


Peace workers around the world have benefited from the work and witness of Mohandas K. Gandhi.  During his life he helped knit together the Moslems and Hindus of India as they won their independence from England. This fabric was painfully torn in the aftermath of his assassination, resulting in war and, eventually, the creation of the separate country of Pakistan. In this medley, which we call In Gandhi's Footsteps, we weave Pinjare Ke Panchhi from India with Estaferallah, a Universal Dance of Peace derived from Sufi tradition.


Finally, we offer Balkan Blessing, a medley weaving together the cultures of the former Yugoslavia. Now split into several different and mutually suspicious countries, the Balkans remain the source of many popular folk dances. We include here three of these, Kasapsko Oro from Macedonia, Orijent from Serbia, and Sukačica from Croatia, plus two songs, Što Mi E Milo from Macedonia and Ličko Kolo, a lament sung by the peoples of both Bosnia and Croatia.


Our planned program is only a part of our ministry. The major portion of our time with you involves participation dancing. All are invited to join us as we teach-and learn-dances that span the globe.


If you wish further information about The Friendly FolkDancers, check our website at, or you can write to us c/o Mark Judkins Helpsmeet, 2550 Gregerson Drive, Eau Claire, WI 54703, USA, or at <>.