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Jus' folks dancin' on a Monday

Dancers practice steps at the International Folk Dance class at Myers-Wilkins. (Photo by Richard Thomas)1 / 6
Dancers practice steps at the International Folk Dance class at Myers-Wilkins. (Photo by Richard Thomas)2 / 6
Terrence Smith leads an Irish job. (Photo by Richard Thomas)3 / 6
Bill Pillsbury performs on flute while Terrence Smith plays the guitar and harmonica. (Photo by Richard Thomas)4 / 6
Dancers practice steps at the International Folk Dance class at Myers-Wilkins. (Photo by Richard Thomas)5 / 6
Dance instructions notebooks provided to Bill Pillsbury 30 years ago, which he has been using every since. (Photo by Richard Thomas)6 / 6

"I'm just gonna call it 'the weird step,'" said dance instructor Bob Pillsbury. "I don't want to put too much emphasis on it because that'll take the fun out of it."

The scene was Monday night in the gym of Myers-Wilkins Elementary School, and Pillsbury was teaching an Irish dance to the Duluth International Folk Dancers.

The Monday night events are a free weekly class open to anyone of all age levels, to engage in dances from pretty much everywhere in the world. This particular night focused mainly on Irish dance, in preparation for the Loaves and Fishes Annual Ceili Dance March 17.

"The organization has been in Duluth for over 30 years, as have three of the instructors," said Rosemary Hampton. "We dance many Israeli folk dances as well as folk dances from Turkey, Sweden, Scotland, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Ghana, Eastern Europe, England, Denmark, and America ... to name some."

Normally the music is pre-recorded, but on the evening of March 13 it was provided by Pillsbury, on flute, and on guitar and harmonica, Terrence Smith, a longtime fixture of the Duluth folk music scene. Pillsbury, a professor in Oshkosh, Wis., was visiting. Thirty years ago in St. Paul he was active in the folk dance scene and an instructor gave him her many notebooks full of dance lessons and told him to pass it on.

Duluth International Folk Dancers meets 6:45-9 p.m. Mondays at Myers-Wilkins, 1027 N. Eighth Ave. E., except when ISD 709 closes. No partners are necessary as most dances are line dances.

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