Dorien van de Belt


Early days

Dorien has been interested and active in international folk dancing since a very young age. As a kid she learned her first dances during the weekend camps of Imago, a youth organisation originating from the AJC, the Labour Youth Movement in the Netherlands. In her teens she joined her mother’s and sister’s folk dance group, rather than following her peers into the ballroom scene. At the time she started studying mechanical engineering at the ‘Technical University Twente‘ (later called: University of Twente, UT), she also joined the International Folk Dance Association Agapo, especially because they had a performance group. For her obligatory internship she decided for the first time to combine study (mechanical engineering) and passion (folk dance) and found herself a position at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in that time still called Yugoslavia. During a couple of weeks she was able to join the Folklorna Skupina Emona and learned a complete choreography with dances from Međimurje, Croatia. Back home she taught this choreography to her own group Agapo, and it’s been a popular choreography ever since.

Young adult

After graduation in 1989, Dorien continued with a two year’s training for folk dance teacher / dance instructor. During this training the emphasis was, in addition to developing didactic skills, on developing personal dance skills in Romanian, Bulgarian, Armenian, Russian, Dutch and American dance styles. Even before this training was finished, she started with a PhD programme in Biomechanics. During the time she spent at the university with her PhD research, she continued teaching folk dance at Agapo and also decided to join a second performance group, Phoenix, located in the centre of the Netherlands and in that time specialised in Romanian and Hungarian dances. This group has been led many years by André van de Plas, well-known guest dance teacher in Australia. The dance ensemble Phoenix worked with many dance specialists who were invited to create a choreography, for instance the Romanian specialist Theodor Vasilescu was in that time a regular guest instructor at Phoenix.

Going abroad for a couple of years

In the next phase of her life, she found a post-doc position in the UK from 1998 till 2001, where she could combine work (biomechanics) and passion (dance) again: a project involving developing software for the animation of dance. Obviously she took the opportunity to join the London folk dance scene, by joining the Romanian dance group Martișorul, a couple of times being MC at the monthly BalkanPlus Dance Evenings, giving a workshop in Dutch dances at the SIFD (Society for International Folk Dancing) and teaching short courses in international folk dance at Campus Dance of the University of Surrey. She has fond memories of a dance weekend in Oxford, where the Dutch specialist Martin Ihns taught a nice selection of Albanian and Macedonian dances, what kindled the flame for Albanian folklore.

Back in the Netherlands

After coming back to the Netherlands in 2001, she found that a full time academic job is rather difficult to combine with teaching a weekly dance group, so the dance activities became less intense. However, due to her contacts the performance group of Agapo participated together with Martișorul in a performance in London and they travelled to Andros, Greece, to participate in an international folklore festival. From 2014 onwards, she was asked to be the repetitor again of the performance group of Agapo, which she happily accepted. However, the internal fire for teaching regular dances (rather than choreographies for performances) did not disappear. In particular after having joined several dance trips to Albanian and Bulgaria, the itch became more intense again.

Currently she is well appreciated as a dance teacher with international dance groups in the region around Enschede and is regularly invited for workshops. She also recently reduced her full time academic position to create more time for her true passion: international folk dance! One of her dreams is to lead an international student dance group at the UT; unfortunately ‘folklore’ is not the most popular subject on campus, so this is quite a challenge. But saying that, there was an article about Dorien and her hobby in the UT newspaper.

Dorien has never been one for just one dance style, because all dance styles have their own ethos and they all complement each other to the true international dance culture. Therefore she made the choice not to specialise in one style. Over the years her favourite dance styles have always been Bulgarian and Armenian dances, but especially due to her trip to Albania, the Albanian dances have joined the ‘favourites’ list. But in addition, she also likes (in alphabetical order) Greek, Hungarian, Roma, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and many more.

CV – Education

  • 2022: dance seminar in Macedonia
  • 2021: dance seminar in Greece
  • 2018: dance seminar in Bosnia
  • 2017, 2019: dance seminars in Bulgaria
  • 2014: dance seminar in Albania
  • 1989 – 1990: Part-time training programme for International Dance teacher. Organised by the Landelijke Stichting Kwaliteitsbewaking Kunstzinnige Vorming en Amateuristische Kunstbeoefening, Utrecht. Received diploma.
    • Subjects: Dance skills, Didactics (theory, practice), Music, ‘Posture & movement’, Folklore, health science / first aid, dance notation, working with groups.

CV – Working

  • 2001 – current: Dance instructor; various workshops at various dance groups, such as:
    • 2021-JUL: guest teacher in Door County Folk Festival (online)
    • 2021-MAY: workshop for Folk Dance Australia (online)
    • workshops for other dance organisations in the Twente area (in-person)
  • 2014 – current: Dance repetitor; Performance group of the International Dance Association Agapo, Enschede.
  • 2003: Dance teacher at a folk camp (a week in July)
  • 2002 – 2003: Dance instructor; International Dance Association Doina, Oldenzaal. Beginners and advanced level recreational group.
  • 2000: teacher dance workshop ‘Dutch dances’, London, UK.
  • 2000: DJ at the monthly Balkan dance evening, London, UK
  • 1998 – 2000: Dance instructor; “Campus Dance”, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
  • 1990 – 1998: Dance instructor and repetitor; International Dance Association Agapo, Enschede. Performance group and advanced level recreational group.
  • 1989 – 1990: Traineeship dance instructor; two dance associations, Hengelo en Enschede.
  • 1997: Dance teacher at a folk camp (a week in July)

CV – Dancer

  • 2001 – current: member of the performance group of Agapo, Enschede (choreographies from the Americas, Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Netherlands, Roma, Romania, Portugal/Spain, Serbia)
  • 1999 – 2001: member of the Romanian performance group Martisorul, London
  • 1983 – 1997: member of the performance group of Agapo, Enschede (choreographies from Armenia, Bulgaria, Israël, Croatia, Romania & Serbia)
  • 1990 – 1997: member of the performance group of Phoenix, Apeldoorn (choreographies from Hungary, Israël, Netherlands, Romania & USA)
  • 1996 participation in festival in Gyula (Hungary) with dance ensemble Phoenix (august)
  • 1993 participation in festival in Pécs (Hungary) with dance ensemble Phoenix (august)
  • 1991 Tour through Romania with dance ensemble Phoenix (October)