Janesville woman teaches Bulgarian dances for fun, exercise

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Anna Marie Lux
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

JANESVILLE—Come to Cargill United Methodist Church on Friday night, and Nadezhda Taggart will show you how to dance off the last cold chill of winter.

“Nadia,” as she calls herself, is the sure-footed one, leading a line of dancers to the left and then to the right as lively music keeps the beat. In her high-stepping boots, she demonstrates the movement of a dance that probably has been evolving for centuries in Eastern Europe.

The Janesville woman teaches free folk dancing from her native Bulgaria to “release the negative in you,” she explains. “Sometimes, you just need a stress reliever.”

Nadia guides her students in weekly lessons, which are more about having fun than making all the right moves.

“If you make a mistake, no one cares,” she said.

The 39-year-old insists anyone can learn the traditional dances or “horos,” which are done in a line while holding the hands of other dancers.

“You don't need a partner,” Nadia said. “There are many different dances. Some are fast. Some are slow. Some involve a lot of jumping and stomping with the feet.”

If visitors don't want to dance, they can listen to the music on CDs.

“Most people don't even know where Bulgaria is,” Nadia said. “It's not a big famous country, so they can't even picture what the dancing is like.”

On Friday, a handful of women, some with children in tow, came to see for themselves.

“It is so much fun,” said Erin Pregont of rural Milton, who normally comes with her 7-year-old son. “It was cold, and we wanted to do something lively.”

In addition to dancing, Heidi Roberts of Janesville attended.

“It's fun because Nadia has such a passion for it,” she said.

Rebecca Meyers dropped in because she loves music.

“I also enjoy ethnic diversity,” she said.

Earlier this year, Nadia asked the church if she could use the space.

“It's hard for me to do this,” she said. “I'm not a professional dancer, but I'm encouraging people to come because I think they will like it. It's all about making the first step.”

Nadia came to the United States about a decade ago for a summer job in Minnesota. That's where she met her husband, Tim Taggart, and they have two young daughters.

“I love my husband and kids, but I still miss my country,” Nadia said.

She used to live in Varna, the second-biggest city in Bulgaria, where the Black Sea is within walking distance and the mountains are only 30 minutes away.

“Some mornings you wake up and smell the sea,” Nadia remembers. “There are so many amazing and beautiful places there.”

She shares traditional Bulgarian dances done at weddings and on New Year's Day.

“In my city, you can still see people dancing on the square and holding hands,” she said. “Sometimes in restaurants, they also dance. Younger people and older people all dance in a line, sometimes fast and sometimes slow.”

Nadia is happiest when making friends.

“I'm a very social person,” she explains. “I want to do this to make Janesville feel more like home.”

Her dance lessons are about more than footwork.

“Just let go of that heavy feeling on your shoulders,” she said. “Just be happy. This is a place to relax, meet others and escape daily life for a little while.”

Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.

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