Ethnic Express group’s passion for folk dancing spans decades

Hundreds of years of dance history from around the world can be found in a small dance studio at the East Las Vegas Community Center.

Ethnic Express, a group that studies traditional folk dances, meets Wednesdays to practice and perform. The group will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

Las Vegas slot machinist Richard Killian founded Ethnic Express in 1978 after dancing for years with groups at UNLV. After a decade and a half in the valley, Killian and his wife, Donna, had made friends who shared a passion for folk dancing.

“We gathered up everybody with all the records they had … and we said, ‘Let’s start a club,’” Killian said. They started meeting at the now-closed Marliza’s Belly Dance Studio on West Charleston Boulevard and moved through a few locations until they landed at the Charleston Heights Arts Center.

They’ve met there regularly for 20 years, though renovations have displaced them for the past year and a half. They hope to return by early next year, Killian said.

That hasn’t slowed them down. They’ll dance anywhere, Killian said, including restaurants and each other’s homes.

The group originally called itself “The Orijent Express,” after the international express train route that ran from Paris through Eastern Europe to Istanbul. “Orijent” is a Serbian men’s dance the group performs.

Many of the group’s dances come from the regions the Express traveled through, or near, such as Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. Group members have other favorite dances, from Israel, Ireland, China and Japan.

Between 15 and 25 members arrive at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday in comfortable clothes and ready to dance. Many already know the steps to the numbers; some are simple, others complicated. The group runs through about 30 dances every meeting.

Several members of the club have been coming for decades.

“I’ve been dancing since I was a teenager,” said Bob Shapiro, a member since 1980. “I went to Israel when I was 18, and we folk danced near the Sea of Galilee. If you got too hot, you just jumped in the water.”

New members of all skill levels are welcome, Killian said. At a recent meeting, the group moved through Ajšino Oro (a Macedonian and Albanian dance); several people watched or shadowed behind dancers who knew the steps.

Killian said the group lacks younger members, since most members of Ethnic Express are retirees.

“That’s what keeps your body moving in sync with your mind,” Killian said, watching as the group made its way through a fast-paced Israeli dance. “I’m 85, if that gives you an idea of why I like this.”

It’s also a way to learn about different cultures and ways of life, Killian said. The group regularly brings in guest teachers, such as Turkish dance instructor Ahmet Luleci and Israeli instructor Ira Weisburd.

“People say there’s no culture in Las Vegas,” Killian said. “Look at us!”

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-383-0497. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like