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Dance with Uste: Learn traditional steps at Balkan music fest

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Get dancing to the Balkan beat!

The vivacious rhythms of Balkan brass bands will blow the roof off Park Slope’s Grand Prospect Hall this weekend. The annual Zlatne Uste Golden Festival — now in its 32nd year — is known for its many rollicking bands, but the dancing among the audience is just as important as the action happening on the fest’s four stages. So a 75-minute dance workshop will kick off the two-day festival on Jan. 13, giving all party-goers the basics they need to step it up all weekend and make their dancing dreams come true, said one organizer.

“It’s basically an introduction for people to get their dancing chops together so they can fully participate,” said Noel Kropf. “Traditional dancing and music are a real staple of the Balkan community for getting people together. And the music and dance go hand-in-hand. I would say most of the music you’ll be hearing is meant for dancing — its function is essentially to serve as a prompt for dancing. So the dances are a very important part of the fest.”

The two-day festival will showcase more than 60 musical outfits with roots from throughout southeastern Europe, with sounds from the ancient to the experimental, including Brooklyn favorites Slavic Soul Party, Raya Brass Band, and festival founders Zlatne Uste.

During the Friday night lesson, instructors will school new revelers on popular circle and line folkdances, including a communal dance common at village weddings and banquets called Chochek, a Macedonian and Bulgarian dance similar to the Jewish Hora known as Lesnoto, and a simple Greek step dance known as Syrtos. Anyone should be able to master these moves, said Kropf.

“I would say they’re mostly simple patterns of foot work, it’s not showy or very strenuous,” he said. “They’re meant to be so anyone can get involved. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy it and be a part of it all.”

Dance at the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival at Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope [263 Prospect Ave. between Fifth and Sixth avenues, (718) 788–0777, www.goldenfest.org]. Jan. 13, 7 pm–12:30 am; $35. Jan. 14, 6 pm–2 am; $55 ($80 for both nights).

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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