Traditional dance is one of the least served areas of the arts in the United States. As a result, many traditional dance groups lack sufficient funding and remain unknown. To address this problem, in 2003 BAC Folk Arts initiated Folk Feet, a program dedicated to supporting the work of traditional dancers in Brooklyn.
The goals of Folk Feet were to identify the range of traditional dance practices represented in Brooklyn by individuals, companies, and community and social dance groups; to document these artists and their practices; and to present them to a wider public by way of concerts, showcases and workshops. Since its inception, the Folk Feet project identified more than 180 dancers or groups in the borough. We documented many of them and presented them in our annual showcase at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and at other events such as Folk Feet at Ft. Greene Park. Dancers also had the opportunity to teach in Circle 'Round Brooklyn, a series of workshops in public spaces around the city that focuses on social dances such as the circular Greek syrtos or African American ring shout. Among the many traditional dance forms documented and presented by Folk Feet were ceremonial dance from Senegal and Mali; Bangladeshi Hindu baowl; Norwegian partner dances; traditional Native American powwow dances; Haitian kombit; Indian Odissi; Dominican Pri-Pri and bachata; American square dance; Mexican norteo; Ukrainian Cossack; Panamanian tamborito; Yemenite bara'a; Nepalese Sherpa sherbru; Brazilian capoeira and candomble; Korean poongmul; Irish step; dance djouanigbe from Ivory Coast; Bangladeshi baowl; Swedish folkdance; Puerto Rican bomba; Polish polka and krakowiak; urban cross-cultural forms such as breaking, zouking, uprocking, salsa, and hustle; and many, many more.
Folk Feet public programming, fieldwork and documentation was shaped by annual themes such as Teaching Traditional Dance; Immigration and Diaspora; and Circle, Line and Square: The Shapes of Social dance. The project's theme in its final year, Folk Feet on Fifth, centered on place: the neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.
Click here to read about past Folk Feet events.
Ongoing Folk Feet projects include Folk Feet Dance Workshops, an online interface to help you organize your own dance class with traditional dance teachers of Brooklyn, and a range of video and oral history documentation in the Folk Feet archive.
Folk Feet is made possible, in part, by Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and The New York Community Trust.