We are a recreational dance group of international folk dancers, also known as the "Sarasota Grapeviners". We have been dancing at the John Chidsey Bayfront Community Center in Sarasota every Wednesday evening since 1995. Our dance "specialty" - International Folk Dancing - exposes us to the music and dance from a variety of countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia, Israel, Turkey, Croatia, and others. We also do line dances that are typically from the US. Most of the dances are done in a circle or line; therefore
NO PARTNER is required.
The dances are appropriate for both males and females, younger and older, and enjoyed by both males and females, younger and older. Having a nice mix of both sexes and a variety of adult ages in the line-of-dance adds fun and interest to the experience, for example --- in some of the dances, the men clap while the women turn, or the men's leg lifts are higher and more pronounced while the women's leg lifts are low and delicate. So gentlemen, ladies, younger and older, "do not be afraid" - you will not be criticized - you will be welcomed.
The schedule each Wednesday night is "Instruction" or "Taught Dances" and Easy Dances from 7 to 8 PM, followed by "Request Dances" from 8:00 to 9:30 PM.
During the summer months (May through September), we stop at 9:00 PM instead of 9:30. During the winter months (October through April) we dance from 7:00Pm till 9:30PM.
We refer to the Request Dances portion of the evening (requests are written down by the dancers and the instructors select them accordingly), as "Ethnic Aerobics" where most dance steps can be modified up or down to match the energy level of the individual dancer ... that is, individuals with a variety of fitness levels can enjoy most dances equally.
The dances taught during the teaching segment are repeated for 3 weeks so that you have a good opportunity to "get them under your belt". Repetition of course, is a great learning tool and you can get additional repetition of recently taught dances by requesting them via email to the dance teacher ... a hint for you!
The facility has central heat and air and has a wonderful wood floor - both of these items help you have a comfortable dance experience. Also important to your comfort is what you wear ..... wear comfortable clothing and soft-soled shoes that allow you to maneuver easily.
Our instructor, Andi Kapplin, has been dancing since she was 8 years old. Her skill as an international folk dance instructor is of the highest order. The number of dances that Andi has in her "dance brain" continues to amaze those of us who dance with her each week.
Another of Andi's wonderful qualities is her dedication to the promotion of folk dance as a way to honor various countries' dance and music traditions as well as a healthy and fun pursuit for all dancers, both experienced and novice. She always presents the dances in their generally accepted format & style but offers modifications for dancers who may have restrictions due to bad knees, bad hips, etc. This ensures that ALL of her students can participate without risking injury or discomfort.
In addition to her role as instructor of the Sarasota folk dance group, Andi also leads another international folk dance group and participates in an Israeli folk dance group in Tampa where both groups meet weekly and where Andi and her husband reside.
The International Folk Dance Group of Sarasota was originally started by Sydelle Singer in 1980. Sydelle, who passed away in September of 2008, was a well-known dance teacher in both the New York and Florida areas. The group held their dance sessions at the McIntosh Middle School and at that time, was know as "Singer's Dancers". When the group expanded to include summer dancing in 1986, John and Marie Millett became the summer teachers while Sydelle remained the winter teacher. At this time, the dance location was changed to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sarasota and the group name was changed to the Grapeviners of Sarasota. We are referred to as "The Grapeviners" to this day.
In January of 1992, Sydelle left the Sarasota area and Ann Kessler, another teacher of international folk dance, ballroom dance, and line dance became the permanent teacher. Fred Miller assisted Ann with teaching while Marie Millett continued to coordinate the group's activities.
In 1995, the group moved its sessions to the John Chidsey Bayfront Community Center where the sessions continue to the current day, every Wednesday night.
In September of 2005, Ann Kessler retired and the group asked Andi Kapplin to take over as the group's instructor. Andi, who has been dancing since she was 8 years old, remains the group's winter teacher. She is a wonderful dancer & instructor and has more dances in her head than any of us can believe.
During 2010, Marie Millett retired as coordinator and "passed the baton" on to Judy Merkt and Susan Barach. Judy got "captured" by ballroom dance in late 2014 and no longer participates in the coordination of the group but continues to dance with the group. Susan remains the group's coordinator during the winter season and Delores Lustig takes the lead when Susan returns to her Boston home in the summertime.