Barb Gillespie—Dance Leader
"My parents, Bud and Sally Elsner began folk-dancing when I was in college. After a year or two, I went to watch them perform at a downtown festival in 1977. I went as a spectator but ended up in audience participation. It was great fun and great music. I took a beginners class from Russ Chong at the YWCA and have been dancing ever since. Cindy (Wayland) Terry taught the group for many years and shaped us into a performing group, dancing at nursing homes, local events and festivals. She was an excellent teacher and attended lots of workshops and camps to obtain new and varied material. Over the years I have attended a number of weekend workshops and finally attended a week-long dance camp at KDI in 1990. It was a very special week and I highly recommend the camp experience to all dancers. Dancing with groups, large or small, with a shared passion evokes a strong sense of connectedness and well being. When Cindy moved on to other endeavors, I became the default teacher and “keeper of the stuff.”
I have no formal credentials other than longevity and the desire to share the joy of IFD. The group is now growing as a result of several beginner classes, new memberships, return of “lost sheep,” exposure to the community through performances, and the dedication and consistency of core members. This regrowth is re-energizing after the years of decline. It is a joy to be an active group again and to share in the enjoyment of a new generation of dancers. Although my parents are no longer able to dance, they are with us in spirit, provide us the dance hall, and are kept apprised of the goings on.
I don’t know if I have a singular philosophy of dance or teaching. There is value in maintaining historical accuracy and there is value in the “village variations” that evolve over time as well. My goal is to get folks dancing, hopefully with some semblance of accuracy. There are challenges with both difficult and simple dances and pleasure to be obtained from each."
Mary Engelland — Assistant Dance Leader
"My adult folk dancing experiences began with a full week folk dancing camp in Mendocino, California in 1993. I went with a girlfriend who had been dancing with groups in the area regularly. What a way to start! Luckily, the dancers and instructors were very kind - and the food and woodland setting were marvelous. One of the dancers traveled a lot on his job, and told me that there was a folk dance group in Evansville, Indiana. Eventually, I looked it up and began participating in Thursday evening sessions at the Old Courthouse.
A year later, in 1994, I participated in another full-week camp: KDI, or Kentucky Dance Institute, a little closer to home. Over these years, I've attended weekend workshops in Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Evansville, and Nashville, Tennessee as well as danced with groups in Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Louisville. There are many opportunities for international dancing.
I like a wide variety of international dances, although my preference leans towards the energetic dances from many different countries, probably because of my "second" job as an aerobic/step fitness instructor at the YMCA. International dance is better than exercise, however, because we get not only the physical workout but also some mental exercise and the spiritual lift from the music and camaraderie. Plus, the added benefit of learning about other countries' history and culture.
Helping Barb as an assistant leader for our group has been a great way for me to remember more dances than I did as a "follower". I encourage everyone to pick a favorite dance and learn it well enough to lead and/or teach it to others. We all benefit from having more leaders!"