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Folk group brings attention to overseas heritage

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 25, 2012
These circle dances often involve handholding.
These circle dances often involve handholding.
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The Sarasota Grapeviners are an international folk dance group that meets from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every Wednesday, at the John Chidsey Bayfront Community Center. Participants learn various dances, from Mediterranean and Balkan countries, such as Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and more. Most of these dances are done in a line or circle, and no partners are required.

“We all get together because we love the international flair of the music and we love to dance,” says co-coordinator Judy Merkt.

The evening starts off with a lesson from instructor Andi Kapplin, who comes from Tampa. Kapplin has attended various dance workshops in Canada and the U.S. and has been teaching dance since she was a teenager.

Kapplin said her favorite part of the group is its friendliness and warmth.

“It’s like a big happy family, but we’d love to have more people dance with us,” says Kapplin.

After a 45-minute lesson, participants can suggest dances and engage in “ethnic aerobics.” In addition to knowing the dances, many of the participants sing along to the songs.

Wylie Crawford has been part of the Sarasota Grapeviners for five years. The snowbird left his home in Chicago on time to make it to the Wednesday lesson.

“I have been dancing for 50 years, and this is the friendliest dance group I have been a part of,” Crawford said.

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