“American dances”

My primary job here is to teach English, but for the last month or so I’ve been moonlighting as a dance teacher.

I’ll give you a minute to let the laughter die down.

I know. It’s just as funny to me.

Okay, so it all started with a guy named Krste Petkov Misirkov. (He’s one of the people responsible for the standardization of literary Macedonian.) The school in my village is named for him, and each fall we celebrate him on our patron day. (This falls on his birthday, Nov. 18.) This includes an evening of performances from nearly all the students in the school. This year there were a few little skits, a few songs, a wonderful accordion performance by my ninth grade boys, and many dance numbers.

I have three counterparts who I work with, including two wonderful women who work in first through sixth grade. We talked about putting together a short play or skit in English, but scratched that idea when we realized there would be about five people in the audience who would understand it. (Including us.)

Our final idea was to have them perform some “American dances.” One of my counterparts worked on a cruise ship for a while before she became a teacher, so she was familiar with some line dances, like the cha cha slide. We talked about several options, but settled on a medley of the cupid shuffle, the whip and nae nae, and the cha cha slide. (The electric slide got vetoed because it was too boring.)

Now there is normally some tequila involved before I hit the dance floor, but for my adorable kids, I did my best to demonstrate the finer points of all three of these dances with the power of coffee alone.

Luckily, my kids rock and they mastered all the steps in no time. We practiced nearly every day either before or after classes, shoving desks to the side of classrooms and going back and forth between English and Macedonian directions.

On the big night, they of course, were the stars of the program. (Although the first graders had a dance number that gave us a run for our money.)

I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure they got the biggest round of applause from the standing room only crowd of proud parents, babas, and community members.

The next day, we didn’t have classes, but we formally honored Krste Petkov Misirkov by laying flowers at the base of a statue in his likeness that sits in front of the school. My other counterpart and I were volunteered to flank our director (principal) as we made the flower presentation.

I had no idea what to do, but my director whispered directions. We had to walk to the bust, stand there looking at Krste, and then after she put the flowers down, we had to bow and walk back.

Oh and the local TV crews were there for our big walk. Patron days are a big deal.

Afterward, the school bought pastramalija (the Macedonian take on pizza) and the whole staff had lunch before calling it a day. Pastramalija typically has cheese and meat (usually pork of some sort), but I was thrilled when a special vegetarian version with mushrooms landed in front of me. My coworkers are the best. They always take care of me.

Unlike dancing, I’m great at eating pastramalija. Thanks for the day off and the delicious lunch Krste!

Here is the big performance. My camera glitched, so I didn’t get a continuous video, but here are my fifth and sixth graders in all their glory. 🙂



3 thoughts on ““American dances”

  1. I love the video. And at first I read the caption about “bouquets to leave at the statue” as “bouquets to heave at the statue,” which I thought was odd. But on second thought, heaving flowers at the statue would be pretty cool, and I think you should start that tradition.


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