Seminal Teachers of Recreational International Folk Dance
Compiled by Dick Oakes, March 2014
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Prior to the 1900s, Recreational International Folk Dance as we now know it did not exist. Even among the ethnic communities, dancing was very limited. Many ethnic groups, fleeing the turmoils that beset them in their homelands, did not have strong interests in preserving their cultures. In fact, many came to the United States to forget. There was no point or reason to preserve reminders of pain and horror, and the young immigrants were interested only in the American way of life. The newcomers adapted readily and rapidly and, except for a few diehards, the older immigrants were satisfied to ignore their traditions. Not that there were no ethnic cultural activities at all, for there were. But as a rule, outsiders were not welcomed at the gatherings and so the general American public and other national groups were rarely able to observe or participate in ethnic events.
After World War II, in the new socialist states of Eastern Europe, professional groups formed under state sponsorship to develop stylized productions of folk dance for stage presentation. For much of the twentieth century, in Western Europe and the United States, Recreational International Folk Dance was popular as a way to promote regional and national identity.
The term "International Recreational Folk Dance" is reserved for dances which are to a significant degree bound by tradition and originated in the times when the distinction existed between the dances of "common folk" and the dances of the "high society."
The few things that characterize International Recreational Folk Dance are:
Although folk dancing was historically done by the common people of a local culture, Recreational International Folk Dance received some popularity on college campuses and community centers within the United States and other countries. The terms "ethnic" and "traditional" are used when it is required to emphasize the cultural roots of the dance.
I'm going to take you through Recreational International Folk Dance by honoring some of its master teachers, beginning in the early 1900s.
SOME MASTER TEACHERS
Luther Halsey Gulick [1865-1918] was born on December 4, 1865 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Throughout his life and career, Luther Halsey Gulick was greatly interested in physical education and hygiene. While pursuing his medical degree between 1886 and 1889, he began his career as the physical director of the Jackson, Michigan YMCA in 1886. In 1887, Gulick became head of the gymnasium department of the Young Men's Christian Education's Springfield Training School. In 1891, he assigned one of his students a set of rules to design a game around. The student was James Naismith. The game became known as basketball. He continued at Springfield until 1903. While serving as head of the gymnasium department at Springfield, he also served as international secretary for the physical training department of the YMCA. In addition, he was secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education from 1892 to 1893.
Mary Wood Hinman [1877-1952] was in her twenties when she developed a teacher-training school in Chicago that prepared women to teach folk dances in schools, parks, and settlement houses. She taught Recreational International Folk Dance classes at Hull House as a way to hold the interest of immigrants and introduce their children to the music and dance of their native lands. Her motto became "let us not teach as much as share." In 1904, Hinman established the Hinman School of Gymnastic and Folk Dance in order to prepare young women for teaching dance in public and settlement schools. In 1930 she helped establish the Folk Festival Council of New York; this private service organization sponsored folk dance festivals with performers from numerous ethnic organizations. In addition, she developed and taught a course titled "Dances of Many Peoples" at what is now the New School University in Manhattan. She retired from her teaching career in 1938.
Louis Harvy Chalif, who was born in 1876, was a renowned Russian ballet dancer. He began studying ballet at the age of nine in Odessa, Russia. He traveled as a dancer with the Imperial Moscow Ballet and later traveled through Europe and became ballet master of the Odessa Government Theatre. Louis immigrated to New York City In 1904. He was appointed director of physical training in the public schools of New York City, New York. In 1905, he opened the Louis H. Chalif Normal School of Dancing (also called the Chalif Normal School of Dancing) in New York City. He instructed teachers of dance, "physical culture," and recreation, as well as aspiring professional dancers and children. The Chalif School was one of the earliest schools in the United States to instruct teachers in dance. He became known as "the dean of New York dance teachers" and "the first Russian ballet master to teach in America." Louis taught folk dancing at the School of the Ethical Culture Society in New York, founded by Felix Adler. He was director of dance at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909. After 1910, Louis stopped performing and focused entirely on teaching dance. He was president of the American Society of Teachers of Dancing. From 1910 to 1918, he was instructor to the American Society of Professors of Dancing. Louis was a founder of the Dance Art League of America.
C. Ward Crampton was born in 1877. He was an author, physician, professor, scientist, and consultant who was an active promoter of public service, physical fitness, and hygiene. He worked with both the Boy Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls, and conducted research on the cardiopulmonary system. He was involved with the 1926 Admiral Byrd Antarctic expedition, and received a personal thank you letter from Admiral Byrd. He had original photographs of Lou Gehrig, taken for the May 1937 issue of his monthly article in BOYS' LIFE magazine, entitled "Keeping Physically Fit." He wrote the introduction and was involved in the writing of Nils W. Bergquist's book Swedish Folk Dances.
Nils W. Bergquist Nils W. Bergquist established the folk dance literature with dances learned from observation of natives and from the books of Elizabeth Burchenal, C. Ward Crampton, Caroline Crawford, and Mary Wood Hinman. Dr. Charles Ward Crampton wrote the introduction to his book, Swedish Folk Dances. Nils' articles and publications include Swedish Folk Dances.
Georg and Marguerite Bidstrup Georg and Marguerite Bidstrup were folk dance teachers, festival organizers, and administrators of the John C. Campbell Folk School in western North Carolina. At the Campbell Folk School Georg worked with a handful of residential students to turn the school's acreage into a working farm. He built the campus and attempted to create a demonstration farm to serve local farmers. They re-routed Brasstown Creek, installed a water system, improved the land, constructed buildings, and organized a number of farming cooperatives. The school supported a local creamery and poultry cooperative to assist local farmers with marketing their agricultural products. Georg taught gymnastics and folk dancing at the school. Margaret Butler, as the school's assistant director, shared in folk dance. In 1936 they married and, together, remained at the folk school for the next 30 years. In 1952 Bidstrup took over as director of the school; he retired in 1969. 1970 The North Carolina Folklore Society presented the couple with the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award, made to persons who have in special ways contributed to the appreciation, continuation, or study of North Carolina folk traditions.
Mildred Buhler was an exciting square dance caller and taught international folk dancing. She helped in the planning of the first California Statewide Folk Dance Festival held in Ojai in 1946. She called squares at the 1948 California Statewide held in Fresno and helped design the cover for the 1949 Statewide. Mildred was the Guest of Honor at the Whirlaways square dance club's opening evening in 1954 and called a square. She was on the Research and Standardization Committee of the Folk Dance Federation of California, Inc. Mildred taught at the California College of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp (now Stockton Folk Dance Camp).
Lucile Czarnowski [1897-1985] had a drive for authentic Recreational International Folk Dance material that led to the organization of the Research Committee of the Folk Dance Federation of California. As a leader in Dance Education, Lucile was very active in the National Dance Section of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She also contributed a unique book on the dances of Early California. She was a staff member of the College of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp (later renamed Stockton Folk Dance Camp) and the Idyllwild Folk Dance Camp, both in California. It was Dr. Czarnowski's work on the early volumes of “Dances from Near and Far” for the Folk Dance Federation of California that was to serve as an international basis for dance notes descriptions.
Michael Herman [1911-1996] became acquainted with the ethnic groups in New York City beginning in 1931 through playing the violin and acquired a wide knowledge of the music and dances from many countries. Gaining status as a folklorist, he began teaching at the New School for Social Research and founded the Folk Council of New York. In 1912, he married Mary Ann Bodnar. In 1940, the Hermans opened a Recreational International Folk Dance center in the Ukrainian National Home on East 6th Street and finally moved it to 16th Street at 6th Avenue and it became Folk Dance House. He formed the Folk Dance Orchestra and produced records on the Folk Dancer label which he cofounded with Dave Rosenberg. They incorporated a year-end Festival and Workshop into their schedule, with Dick Crum being among the first of the workshop leaders. Others included Michel Cartier, Andor Czompo, Steve Glaser, David Henry, Çavit Kangõz, Yves Moreau, Ralph Page, and Dave Rosenberg. The couple formed the famed Maine Folk Dance Camp in 1951 and Michael closed it in 1994, although it continues as Mainewoods Dance Camp today.
Vyts Beliajus [1908-1994] presented realistic Lithuanian, Jewish, Hindu, and Mexican exhibitions derived from his life in Europe and from ethnic groups with which he worked. Arriving in Chicago from Lithuania, he began his activities in Recreational International Folk Dance, circulating around the Chicago area to find groups where the folk dances he loved were being perpetuated. He was asked to join the Chicago Park District, teaching folk dances which varied with the ethnic population living around each park, retaining the patterns, music, and meaning of each dance he taught. He began editing one of the first folk dance magazines, Lore Magazine, the precursor to Viltis. Soon, Vyts was traveling continuously, and by 1940 teaching Recreational International Folk Dance all over the United States in more than 200 colleges, universities, recreational centers, and other venues. Throughout the years, Vyts left an indelible impression on the psyche of the vast of majority of folk dancers in America.
Lawton Harris [1900-1967] is one of the real pioneers of the folk dance movement. In 1946, Lawton helped in the forming of the Folk Dance Federation of California, Inc., organized the Pacific Area Recreation Lab, and brought to California the first outstanding folk dance teacher from the East Coast, Mary Ann Herman. Out of this recreation lab grew the folk dance camp idea and, in 1948, the Stockton Folk Dance Camp was organized with Lawton as director and guiding spirit. Lawton worked intensively with the Danish groups in the state and taught a number of Danish dances. Lawton's library of folk dance material, begun in 1947, is one of the largest ever compiled, and goes back nearly 200 years. This material and his knowledge in the field was very useful to him when he served two years as editor of "Let's Dance: The Magazine of Folk and Square Dancing" in Northern California.
Anatol Joukowsky [1908-1999] known affectionately as "Mr. J," was born in Poltava, Ukraine. Anatol organized a small professional group to specialize in ethnic dance. The group worked on dances Anatol brought back from his many trips to Bulgaria, France, Greece, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, and the Ukraine. The dancers had their own musicians and orchestrated their own tunes. In the interim between World War I and II, Anatol was the only professional choreographer who was doing folk dance research, and this was the last era when these dances could be found alive in these particular countries. Anatol taught special classes in the Russian folk form at Stanford University and led various exhibition groups. He became active in the Folk Dance Federation of California, teaching workshops, conferences, and camps, including the annual Stockton Folk Dance Camp in Northern California and the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference in the south.
Olga Kulbitsky [1914-2003] began her teaching career at Hunter College in 1937. She was involved in the history, study, and research of Recreational International Folk Dance forms -- ethnic, traditional, derived, and contemporary. Olga attended or taught at every folk dance summer school from the Atlantic to the Pacific. She also presented and conducted programs in folk dance forms at professional conventions at all levels -- national, state, and local -- and was a guest teacher at many colleges and universities nationwide. Olga supervised the production and publication of education dance records and annotated more than three hundred of the recorded dances, including American and European folk, square, ballroom, and party dances.
Dave Rosenberg [1915-2005] was active as a leader in Recreational International Folk Dance and traditional international folk culture activities. Through the District of Columbia Recreation Department, he taught the Washington Folk Dance Group and founded and directed the National Capital Area Folk Festival of All Nations. He also served on the Board of the Northern Virginia Folk Festival Association. As a Recreational International Folk Dance teacher, he taught at schools, universities, and recreation groups in cities around the United States, including the 1960 Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference.
Jane Farwell [1916-1993] made a discovery during her last year of college that was to color her entire life: she found folk dancing quite by accident at a group of Swedish dancers teaching the Hambo Polska. From then on, every free moment, it seemed, she devoted to learning, absorbing, and teaching all the folk dances she could find. In 1940, she began the Recreational International Folk Dance retreat or 'camp' movement at Oglebay, West Virginia. She founded Folklore Village Farm at her family farm in Wisconsin to provide folkloric recreational weekly gatherings and several festivals each year. She directed recreation programs for more than 50 camps and conferences. From her book, Folk Dances for Fun, Jane had for several years been a happy personification of fine recreation, combining game, music, and folk materials.
Rod LaFarge taught folk dancing for over 30 years and called squares widely. His wife, Helen, also served as trachtenmutter ("costume mother") to the Edelweiss Schuhplattler Verein. Most of the book A History of Social Dancing in the U.S.A. was printed in American Squares when Rod was its managing editor. The book took 10 years research much of it Helen's. Rod's directory of places to dance in U.S. on a regular basis by state in 1948 doubled in ten years to 10,000. The list even involved a few celebrities like Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, Henry Ford's books, and television's Ed Sullivan. Rod with his IQ genius and photographic memory achieved a reputation as an international authority although in his research, not all European Embassies were as responsive with information as the USSR. The mass of material their republics and Balkan countries sent probably caused the FBI investigation of Rod's motives and were quite satisfied, apparently, when they learned even the Library of Congress sought help from Rod on questions they couldn't answer.
Jerry Joris Lindsay [?-1986] was well known to the folk dance communities in Chicago, Illinois, and Westport, Connecticut. Vyts Beliajus called her "the lovable 'bundle of energy' among folk dance teachers in past pioneering years," and featured her on the covers of several early issues of his Viltis folklore magazine. Jerry taught Recreational International Folk Dance at many venues on the east coast and was for many years an instructor and leader at the Lighted Lantern Folk Dance Camp a'top Lookout Mountain above Golden, Colorado. Jerry's repertoire included a wide range of international folk and novelty dances. She traveled extensively, including trips to the British Isles. In 1954, she visited Europe and attended folk festivals in North Wales, Norway, France, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Austria, and Spain. During this period she taught American folk dances in Sweden, taught Austrian dances in a small village in Austria, and danced with a Schuhplattler group in Germany.
Madelynne Greene [?-1970] started folk dancing at the age of four in San Francisco, California. At age seven, she won a medal in a Scottish Sword Dance competition. During her high school days, she began to teach dance and would have serious ambitions along this line. Madelynne embraced the Recreational International Folk Dance approach and in 1962, she co-founded the Madelynne Greene Folklore Camp. In 1964, the camp moved to a permanent home at Mendocino Woodlands and flourished. She was lured into attending a folk dance session in 1942. There she got the "folk dance bug" and continued dancing and teaching Recreational International Folk Dance for the rest of her life, sometimes teaching five days a week. Madelynne was a teacher's teacher, and may be best remembered for her comedic rendition of the Swedish Hambo in which she played several different women's "styles" during the same performance: a gum-chewing girl, an ethereal ballerina, and as the partner of an awkward jock.
Virgil Morton [1913-1976] Virgil Leroy Morton was born on January 24, 1913, in Sioux county, Nebraska, to Priscilla and David Morton. He attended high school in Mitchell, Nebraska and graduated with honors in 1931. During the summers of 1930 and 1931, Morton received dancing instruction in ballroom, folk, and musical comedy at the Soderstrom School of Dance in Denver, Colorado. During the 1950s and 1960s, Morton devoted the majority of his time to teaching. From June 1951 to 1955, he taught folk and ballroom dancing for various recreation programs around the Bay Area. In June 1953, Morton began teaching folk and ballroom dancing for the summer session at San Francisco State University. He continued to offer classes at SFSU until his resignation in 1971. Virgil died in 1976.
Vivian Woll [1917-2007] was born on April 21, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas. Even before high school graduation, she was an accomplished ballroom dancer taught by her father and grandfather. She began teaching folk dance in 1948 in Santa Barbara, California, and moved to San Diego in 1950. She joined the San Diego Folk Dancers that year. In 1954, she founded the Cabrillo Folk Dancers, a recreational folk dance club (that also performed Early California dances) where she continued to teach a beginners class and and advanced class. Vivian was the chairperson of Idyllwild Folk Dance Camp from 1972 to 1982. Vivian taught at the Idyllwild camp and the San Diego State University Folk Dance Conference, often re-teaching a neglected dance. For many years, Vivian carried on an active role in the Folk Dance Federation of California, South.
Rodolfo "Rudy" Seidel Ulibarrí [1930-2011] was born on May 20, 1930. He was a well-known, long-time dance leader and teacher in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area. He had taught folk dance since the mid 1960s. In addition to teaching for schools and for folk dance groups, he taught at various folk dance camps, including the Lighted Lantern Folk Dance Camp held on Lookout Mountain above Golden, Colorado. He then taught and danced with a number of groups, including the UNM International Folk Dancers, the Northland Dancers, a youth Scandinavian group, an adult group called the Scandia Dancers, the German-American Edelweiss Folk Dancers, and Rudy's International Folk Dancers. Rudy retired from teaching school in 1984, and continued to teach, perform, and direct folk dance performances until his death on December 17, 2011.
Shawn Donaldson was involved in folk dance since early childhood, but really took to it around the age of 12. Shawn was exposed to Recreational International Folk Dance from all over the world but thanks to the surrounding immigrant communities and his own tastes it was Balkan and Middle Eastern dance for which he became passionate. Detroit was a rich source of immigrant communities to get first-hand dance knowledge. Shawn was a special guest at Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, Chaldean, Bosnian, Armenian, and Croatian events including weddings and festivals. Early on he learned original material from these experiences. Shawn was a featured teacher at weeklong and weekend workshops in the United States' mid-west and Canada.
Martin Koenig has taught Recreational International Folk Dance in university and community programs, folk festivals and folk dance clubs, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Martin's experience in folk dance fieldwork has included extensive research, audio recording, taking hauntingly beautiful photographs, and filming in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He collected and recorded instrumental and vocal music, ritual and ceremonies of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, and Turkey, filming and photographing dance and aspects of traditional rural life. Martin collected and produced 11 recordings of Bulgarian, Yugoslav, Romanian, and Greek traditional music. He collected and co-produced 4 recordings of Bulgarian, Greek, and Central Asian traditional music. Martin also collected and co-produced a Bulgarian recording selected and placed on the Voyager spacecraft as a representation of music from planet Earth.
Michael Ginsburg started doing Recreational International Folk Dance as a young child with his parents. For many years, Michael has been interested in Balkan music and dances, specially Macedonian and Gypsy. He is an expert in the complicated rhythms of Balkan music. He has made several research trips to Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, and studied in Macedonia. His energetic and accessible teaching style make him a popular instructor at dance venues all over North America and he has also taught groups in Europe, South America, and Asia. Michael is director of the Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band, which has performed twice in Macedonia and is well known among the folk dance community in the United States. The band was twice asked to perform in Guča, Serbia.
Bob Leibman began a life-long interest in ethnic dance as a junior at the University of Chicago. He spent a considerable amount of time in villages in Macedonia and Serbia, studying wedding customs and dance. Most of his Recreational International Folk Dance teaching is of the dances he learned from villagers. Bob traveled to Yugoslavia on research trips and spent an entire academic year there on a Fulbright scholarship studying wedding customs. He recorded music to which he would teach some of the dances he had previously learned. Bob attended many of the major folk festivals in Macedonia where he filmed and recorded the village groups who performed at these festivals.
Larry Weiner is one of the foremost experts in traditional dance, music, and customs of the Balkan Peninsula. Both a superb teacher and excellent dancer, he has a knack of making seemingly complex dances and rhythms accessible and fun for dancers at all experience levels. Larry has been involved with Balkan traditional music and dance for many years. Principally a Recreational International Folk Dance researcher, he has made numerous trips to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Hungary to study traditional dance in its native setting and to record and film folk music and dance as living social traditions. He has taught Balkan dance workshops throughout North America and has directed various Balkan music and dance camps over the years. In addition to his strong background in traditional dance, Larry plays tŭpan and tarabuka and currently serves as the manager for Lyuti Chushki, a band that plays "spicy traditional Bulgarian music."
Ron Wixman began Recreational International Folk Dance in New York City, New York, as a youth. Ron is quite knowledgeable about the languages, dances, and costumes of the Balkans, Middle East, and Far East, to which he has made many research trips. He has an excellent knowledge of English, Russian, Yiddish, and Bulgarian, and a working knowledge of Serbo-Croatian, German, French, and Spanish. Ron danced with several ethnic groups, including the Armenian Folkdance Society of New York, and for a while was a professional flamenco dancer. He has taught at several folk dance festivals and camps in North America. In addition to numerous talks, discussion panel appearances, media presentations, and television and radio appearances, Dr. Wixman is a prolific writer. His research focuses on geographies of ethnicity, culture and religion. Of particular interest to him are those situations related to political geographical questions, ethno-territorialism, and ethno-territorial disputes.
Rickey Holden [1926- ], the last of the great pioneers, taught folk and square dance in all the major population centers of Japan during his world tours of 1958 and 1960-62. He is the man who first taught Recreational International Folk Dance in places such as Borneo, Brunei, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri-Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Rickey edited several publications of folk dances from Assyria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, and Macedonia.
John Filcich [1924- ] founded the Festival Records label in California, which sold as well as Victor and Folk Dancer during the microgroove era. He also provided copies of rare recordings to the Recreational International Folk Dance community. In 1948, the International Institute of Oakland asked him to form a Yugoslavian dance group to perform at the Festival of Nations. He did even more, he formed two groups – Croatian and Serbian – and he was also dancing six nights a week. This led to his teaching of Yugoslavian kolo dances at the camp and his subsequent founding of the San Francisco Kolo Festival. John speaks five languages. In 2004, “From the Heart: A Musical Tribute to ‘Kolo' John Filcich” took place at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. Some of L.A.'s finest Eastern European folk musicians paid homage to John.
Paul Erfer, pianist and outgoing dance teacher, learned much of his dancing from Michael Herman in New York City and founded the seminal Hollywood Folk Dancers when he moved to California. His wife was Helen Erfer, who taught La Joaquinta in southern California. Paul produced with Imperial Records a series of Nationality Albums specifically for folk dancers. In many instances, these were the first recordings made in the U.S. of many folk dance melodies, allowing recreational international folk dance groups that relied on recordings to expand their repertoires. Paul directed the performing group the International Dance Circle and called square dances. He also taught at the 6th Annual California Statewide Folk Dance Festival in 1951. The couple owned and operated the Folk Arts Bazaar, a folk costume and record shop in Glendale, California. Paul touted the shop as having "A Complete Selection of Records with Instructions. Books . . . Accessories . . . and Costumes Made to Order."
Dick Crum [1928-2005], quite simply the finest folk dance teacher in the world by virtue of his huge intelligence, his encyclopedic knowledge, and his boundless and gracious tolerance of students. Drawing inspiration from the American ethnic communities of his youth in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Dick began in 1954 to import Recreational International Folk Dance from the Balkans. For years, Dick was an editor for a foreign-language translation service agency in Los Angeles, California. In addition to English, Dick spoke Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Romanian, and had a working knowledge of Brazilian, Chinese, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and several other languages. He even knew Old Church Slavonic — all 1,300 surviving words of that now unspoken language. Interestingly, Dick early on taught Slovenian couple dances but rapidly shifted to non-partner dances from Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania. His research interests included virtually all of Europe. Dick was known for interjecting humor into his dance instruction. The following is attributed to Dick's quick wit:
Dennis Boxell [1940-2010], while on 30-day leave from the Army in West Germany, traveled with the National Ensemble of Jugoslavia Kolo iz Beograda. The group director gave him a private tutor who worked with him every day on the dances he wanted to learn and bring back to the United States. In London, he understudied with a Bulgarian dance group. Dennis formed a performing group in South St. Paul, Minnesota. The members of the group were the children of Slavic immigrants, mostly Serbians. Dennis traveled to the Balkans for more exposure to the arts and culture which had fascinated him for so many years. He traveled to remote regions of Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia, collecting and recording more than 150 dances and their accompanying music that he was later to introduce to the Recreational International Folk Dance world. Acting as an impresario, he introduced to the nation such popular teachers as Atanas Kolarovski, Yves Moreau, Jaap Leegewater, and Slobodan Slović.
Gordon Tracie spent many years studying and writing in Scandinavia, and his research was based on first-hand experience with folk dancers and musicians in the Scandinavian countries. In the period immediately following the war, he traveled to Dalarna, Sweden. Gordon began studying the music, dance, and folk culture of his maternal grandparents, at first in the Dalarna area, which was readily accessible to people from other countries. He learned the Swedish language, speaking it with a Dalmal dialect. He eventually was conversant not only in Swedish, but in the languages of other Scandinavian countries as well. When he returned home to Seattle, Washington, Gordon introduced all the Recreational International Folk Dance he had learned and also spread the music he had brought back. Gordon began teaching dances and discussing the music of all parts of Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. He taught at many camps and workshops around the United States. On another trip to Scandinavia, he spent a year at the Institute for Folklife Research in Sweden.
Ned and Marian Gault have extensive background in teaching all levels of Recreational International Folk Dance, from classes for recreation to the concert stage. They have taught at many teachers' workshops and teacher-training seminars, and have taught dance material and choreographies for performing groups from Portland, Oregon, to San Diego, California. Ned and Marian have visited dancers and dance groups in Central Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan, and have attended many of the seminars given by the Austrian Folk Dance Association for its own teachers. They have taught Recreational International Folk Dance in workshops and dance programs in nine foreign countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Japan), mostly through private organizations, but several times by government invitation. Ned and Marian feel that folk dance is probably the most total recreation of mind and body, giving participants a good outlook on life, an interest in other cultures, and an activity that can be explored at any level for the rest of one's life.
Dean and Nancy Linscott son of long-time folk dance leaders Mark and Wilma Linscott, of Bakersfield, grew up with folk dancing in his blood and gained more as a student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He performed with the Gandy Dancers in Los Angeles and became its co-director. He also was a member of the Cygany Dancers (formerly, Dolina Cygany) of San Diego. Dean was married to Nancy. Dean moved to Mill Valley, California, after which he formed and taught a new folk dance group, the Kopachka Dancers. After attending Madelynne Green's Mendocino Folklore Camp in 1966, Dean started a family dance camp in Sonoma's Valley of the Moon, inviting ethnic and master instructors to teach. Over the years, the list of teachers included Gene Ciejka, Bora Gajicki, Barry Glass, Madelynne Greene, Johnny Pappas, Jan Sejda, Nena Šokčić, and C. Stewart Smith. He and Nancy were also directors of the Mendocino Folklore Camp for 17 years. Dean continued to be involved in running folk dance classes for families, young people, and even one for men only. He taught at folk dance camps and the California Statewide Festival.
William C. Burke (known affectionately by one an all as "Billy" ever since he was a knee-high-to-a-grasshopper folk dancer) was for many years a performer with the famed AMAN Folk Ensemble (aka, AMAN International Music and Dance Company) of Los Angeles, California. His mother became involved in folk dancing when Billy was not quite two years old and he was taken to all of her practices and performances. She started a class for children when Billy was five, then started a performance group for young people when he was twelve. With this background, Billy started dancing with his first adult performing group, Madelynne Greene's Folkance Workshop, in San Francisco, California. He later danced with a wide variety of ethnic dance clubs there, including Russian, German, Balkan, Scottish, and various others. At age 19, Billy toured the United States and Canada with the Don Cossack Choir (now the Bolshoi Don Cossacks) as a professional dancer. In 1970, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he joined AMAN, becoming the first director of the chamber group. After several years, he retired and started his work with children.
Michel Cartier, from Montréal, Québec, was instrumental in introducing folk dancers in the United States and Canada to Bulgarian dances in the 1950s. Since 1975, Michel has been a communications professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Michel has been a consultant in Information and Communications Technologies (NICT) to various institutions in Europe and North America. He is the former founding director of Ensemble National des Feux-Follets, with wide experience in traditional and electronic television editing, direction, and formatting. Michel is the recipient of the Louis-Philippe Beaudoin Prize from the Institut des Arts graphiques and he has been decorated by the Commonwealth and the Mexican Government (Olympic Games choreographies), and by la Francophonie for his participation in research on the impact of NICT on French language and culture. In 1997, Michel was appointed to the Montréal Arts Council.
Von and Millie Vonkonsky took two trips to Europe, conducting a tour of people interested in folk dance and attending the World Folk Dance Festival Congress, in Biarritz, France, and Pamplona, Spain, as representatives of the Folk Dance Federation of California. They choreographed a number of dances, many of which have been danced all around the United States. The couple also performed for television and many special exhibitions and gave a full Folk Dance Conference at Brigham Young University during the summer of 1959. For many years, Millie was a regional representative to the National Folk Organization (NFO). From 1953 to 1958, Millie was Staff Teacher at the Idyllwild Folk Dance Workshop; from 1956 to 1958, at the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference; in 1954, at the College of Pacific (Stockton Folk Dance Camp), and in 1955, at the College of Holy Names. Through the years of folk dancing Millie collected more than 2,000 folk dance records and a very complete library of costume descriptions and customs of people in foreign countries. In her travels she collected many beautiful authentic costumes.
Bill and Louise Lidicker have been involved in international folk dance as dancers, teachers, and performers for many years. Of particular note, they have been invited to teach at five institutes sponsored by the Folk Dance Federation of California, were invited for a four day teaching stint in Taipei, Taiwan; taught on an Alaskan cruise; and taught "classic" couple dances at Stockton Folk Dance Camp three times. The Lidicker's have also taught and performed Czech dances at two local Czech festivals. Starting in 1996, they began going to the Czech Republic (four times in all) for special training in Czech and Slovak dances. Russian folk dance has also been a special interest of theirs. In the last few years, they have taught and performed Russian dance for several Russian club parties and at two Russian festivals.
Conny and Marianne Taylor started running weekly international folk dance classes in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. They co-founded the Folk Arts Center of New England in 1975. Conny and Marianne upheld the standards of Michael and Mary Ann Herman, such as the Taylors' famous and often-reprinted "Last Bastion of the Skirt" where women who attended the Taylors' Cambridge YWCA folk dance classes were requested politely to wear a skirt, borrow one from the Taylors, or leave. They taught Recreational International Folk Dance workshops and school programs all over New England, in Virginia, Québec, Oquaga Camp in New York, and Texas Folk Dance Camp. Connie was a frequent leader at Ralph Page's East Hill Farm and Year End Camps and served on the New England Folk Festival Association planning committees in the 1950s. With "clarity and charity," Marianne taught hundreds of school programs and residencies, Scottish and English country dance classes, and Recreational International Folk Dance workshops.
Mady Taylor grew up in South Central Los Angeles in what she thinks of as an "organically integrated" neighborhood. As an undergraduate at UCLA, she began her passion with dance ethnology and ethnomusicology. She was a women's director, a charter member, a choreographer, and soloist with the Balkan section of Dr. Anthony Shay's AMAN Folk Ensemble. Mady has been passing on this rich legacy – from teaching children's dance classes at The Intersection to adult Balkan classes at Mihai David's Gypsy Camp. After moving to Greece in 1995, Mady began studying Greek traditional dances. Mady has been choreographer of ethnic material for stage, screen, and television, and developed teacher training and student workshops in Recreational International Folk Dance forms. Mady developed a local dance/exercise program for the Southern California branch of the Arthritis Foundation, and her video tapes were acknowledged by the foundation with a commendation.
Sanna Longden is a presenter at education conferences, continuing education courses, workshops, and in-services. A longtime Recreational International Folk Dance leader and ethnic dance performer, Sanna's specialty is to focus on the “folk." She also was editor of the “NFO News” of the National Folk Organization. In addition, Sanna and her husband and partner, Mars, give private swing dance lessons, teach dancing to engaged couples before their weddings, and offer lessons to piano instructors in dances of the classical piano music repertoire. The have one of the largest recreational groups in the country and also lead "coffee talks" on strategies to retain and nurture folk dance communities.
Ingvar Sodal started dancing in his teens in Norway and has been involved with Scandinavian folk dancing nearly all his life. As a certified instructor, Ingvar taught folk dancing at all levels in Norway. He was a member of the Norwegian National Advisory Board for Folk Dancing and Folk Music in Norway for four years, a leader and instructor for exhibition groups in Norway. In his early 20s, he became a Certified Folk Dance Teacher in Norway and a member of the National Board of Folk Dancing. Ingvar teaches to recordings produced in Scandinavia by the best folk orchestras the Scandinavian countries have to offer. In his leadership for many years, the Recreational International Folk Dance community's gratitude to Ingvar is immeasurable. His vision and dedicated involvement in the trials of establishing two facilities for dancing in Boulder have been a shining and remarkable light for all involved.
Steve Kotansky traveled in Germany for over seven years working with the ethnic communities in Munich while teaching Recreational International Folk Dance. Traveling in Germany for over seven years, he worked with ethnic communities in Munich, while teaching dance and performing — and taking advantage of his proximity to Balkan and eastern European countries to pursue his interest in the study and research of their dances. He also lived in Bucovina for a while, learning local folklore. Steve returned to the United States to give his first workshops. He has since taught at every major North American festival and camp. Steve danced with the prestigious AMAN Folk Ensemble in Los Angeles. Steve has traveled extensively in Romania, especially in Transylvania, and learned a wide variety of original folk material there. He also serves as a consultant to several Hungarian folk ensembles.
Vicki Maheu started dancing ballet and tap at an early age. Then, one Sunday in 1958 at the age of nine, she and her mother saw folk dancing being done at the Food and Beverage Building in San Diego's Balboa Park. They took a beginner's class and Vicki has been dancing ever since. She continued her folk dancing throughout high school, performing European, Lithuanian, and Polynesiand dances with Vivian Woll's group. She later performed with Dolina Cygany (renamed Cigany Dancers). Vicki formed her own group, Sedenka, which concentrated on performing Bulgarian and Macedonian dances. Around 1968, she began teaching at the Folk Dance Club at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she had an academic appointment in Physical Education while working on her Bachelor's Degree. She then transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in Ethnic Arts and received her Master's Degree in Dance Ethnology. Vicki has taught at several folk dance camps and workshops in the Western United States, including the Idyllwild Folk Dance Workshop in California, the August New Mexico Camp, and an AMAN Institute.
Dick Oakes [1939- ] was stationed in San Diego in the Navy when he got hooked on Recreational International Folk Dance. There, he performed with Dolina Cigany and the Viltis Dancers. Moving to Los Angeles after his service, he taught in nearly 25 of the folk dance coffee houses, most notably The Intersection. He took classes from over 100 master teachers and performed with the famed AMAN Folk Ensemble as well as 10 other performance groups and taught in more than 75 cities in the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He co-directed and taught Holiday Camp and taught at several other camps around the United States Dick wrote the section on Yugoslavian dance for "International Folk Dancing U.S.A." and co-directed Holiday Camp. Dick has taught in more than 75 cities in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The sound movies and stereo slides he took in Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia are an entertaining source of folkloric research material — especially those of the Koprivštica Festival during Bulgaria's 1300th anniversary and Romania's Tismana Festival. Dick's teacher biographies, dance notes, maps of various countries, folk dance songs, pronunciation guides, and teaching resources that he has on his website are helpful tools for any long-time or aspiring folk dance teacher.
Richard "Rich" Duree enrolled in the Dance Program at San Francisco State University with Anatol Joukowsky and studied with him for two years, receiving his BA degree in Dance in 1969. Three years later, he enrolled in the graduate program in dance at Cal State University, Fullerton, and taught four undergraduate courses in folk dance there. After receiving his MA in Dance Ethnology, he taught dance and physical education as an Adjunct Associate Professor (for over 20 years). Richard became very interested in learning theory and began to develop teaching skills by borrowing techniques from the many superb teachers he had encountered over the years. He came across an article by Dr. Hugh Thurston of the University of British Columbia in which his discussion on "choreogeography" changed his view of folk dance from that of simple recreation to an in-depth examination of the relationships between ethnic dance and the cultures that created them. The burning question became, "Why do people dance the way they do?" He's still asking that question and it's led him to some very interesting places.
Sherry Cochran was always a dancer but truly found her passion in a folkdance class at the University of Arizona in 1968. She soon became an avid folkdancer, teacher, and performer. After moving to Los Angeles, largely because of the active folkdance scene and the friends she had made at camps, Sherry soon found herself teaching five or six nights a week at coffeehouses and local recreational groups. Her humor, energy, attention to styling, and accessible teaching style made her a popular dance instructor at clubs such as Café Danssa, Calliópe's, Horo, Intersection, Open Circle, and Veselo Selo. She has taught at folkdance camps and festivals including Berkeley Festival, California Traditional Music Society (CTMS) Summer Solstice Festival, Camp Hess Kramer, Equinox Festival, Folk Dance Federation of California's Treasurer's Ball, Idyllwild Folk Dance Camp, and Ojai Festival. Although she has been teaching international dance for many years, Sherry has become known best as a Balkan dance teacher because she is said to have an extraordinary facility for breaking down the steps and intricate rhythms.
Beverly Barr danced as a child and performed in amateur and semi-professional productions throughout early adulthood. She enrolled in an Israeli dance class in 1963 and has been folk dancing ever since. About five years after she started folk dancing, she began teaching. Her husband Irwin joined her to help with the equipment. Beverly and Irwin have appeared on television and Beverly has represented folk dancing in other media. She has taught at the California Traditional Music Society's events. Beverly and her husband Irwin teach two daytime and three evening classes each week and are guest teachers at many other groups. Beverly plans group trips and cruises and regularly teaches at Southern California's Camp Hess Kramer. She has also taught at the 3rd Annual International Folkdance Camp on Santa Catalina.
Sandy Starkman teaches several weekly dance classes. She has been the teacher on nine of Mel Mann's Dance on the Water Cruises and teaches every year at the Kentucky Dance Institute. Sandy also has taught Recreational International Folk Dance at many workshops and camps in Eastern Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Sandy was on the staff of Maine Folk Dance Camp since 1980 and now is a regular instructor at the Mainewoods Dance Camp. She is has been President of the Mainewoods Dance Camp Board as well as President of the Ontario Folk Dance Camp Committee. She has taught several teacher training courses for the Toronto Board of Education and the University of Toronto.
Loui Tucker arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1971 and, drawing on a high school and college background in modern dance, quickly found her way into local international folk dance circles. At one point, for an exhausting four months, she took dance classes four nights a week and found at least one dance party a week to attend while working full-time. Within a few years, she discovered a particular fondness and affinity for the dances of Israel, and began to specialize. Over the years, she has also dabbled in square dance, belly dance, contras, and ballroom dance. While still teaching at a junior high school in the 1970s, she formed an after-school international folk dance club which grew to over two dozen students and included a short community performance each spring. In 1980 she decided to start her first adult dance class. Loui continues to be both a generalist and a specialist. Her expertise in Israeli dance has made it possible for her to teach at Stockton Dance Camp, Camp Hess Kramer, the Camellia Festival, the Festival of the Oaks, as well as other workshops and events.
James "Jimmy" Drury is a musician and dancer, teaching English Country, contra, ragtime, and international dances. Jimmy loves playing fiddle but he also is a gifted pianist who loves performing classic ragtime piano. He teaches classes in both violin and piano. Jimmy is the Folk Culture Administrator of the International Folk Culture Center in San Antonio, Texas. On March 10, 2001, at the 42nd Annual San Antonio College Folk Dance Festival, the Texas Folk Dance Award was presented to Jimmy, "long a popular and actively involved dance teacher at the IFCC." A well known dance instructor, Jimmy has taught international and contra dances at various dance camps and festivals around the United States, including the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival, Mainwoods Camp, and Ted Sanella Memorial Contra Week.
Jana Rickel took tap and jazz dance and piano and violin lessons as a child. At sixteen she discovered folk dancing. Shortly after, Jana discovered the many other types of folk dance by joining the Tulsa International Folk Dancers, and becoming their teaching director a year later. In college, Jana taught folkdances from Eastern and Western Europe and Mexico in elementary school classroom workshops. In 1981, Jana spent four months dancing her way through Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. The next year, living in Germany, she continued to attend workshops in Bulgaria, Germany, and Yugoslavia and taught in Germany. After returning to the United States, Jana danced with a performing group in Salt Lake City. When their band needed help in the rhythm section, she started playing bass and tâpan. Later, as director of the group, she took up other instruments and, in addition to the bass and tâpan, plays tambura and various chord instruments. Moving to Seattle, she taught week-end workshops in Richland and Olympia, Washington; Victoria, British Columbia, and Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as well as teaching at Northwest Folkdancer's Seattle Festival for 10 years.
Erik Bendix has been teaching folk dance in Europe and the United States since 1972. He has studied and taught Macedonian, Albanian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish folk dances, as well as traditional Mevlevi dervish whirling dances and Appalachian clogging. Among his major teachers were Michael Alpert, Pece Atanasovski, Ivan Donkov, Mile Kolarev, Marcia Rand, and Zuleikha. He has performed as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers on the east coast and choreographed for the Westwind International Folkdance Ensemble in San Francisco, California. Erik helped start the Volkstanz International (VTI) workshops in Switzerland in the early 1980s, and the Mountain Playshop in Asheville, North Carolina, later that decade. VTI is now a major folkdance organization in Europe, running Balkan and klezmer music camps each year, plus week-long and weekend folkdance workshops.
Suzanne Rocca-Butler studied both modern dance and folk dance in college and has been teaching folk dance in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977. She has been a guest teacher twice in Brazil (1998 and 1999) and at the first and second Ethnic Music and Dance Symposium sponsered by a university in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In 1998, at the invitation of the Gifu Folk Dance League, she taught at the 11th National Sports and Recreational Festival in Japan, the first year dance was included in the nationwide event. In 1998 and 1999, she was a guest teacher in Brazil at the first and second Ethnic Music and Dance Symposium, sponsored by the Universidade Anhembi Morumbi in Sao Paulo. Suzanne taught at Stockton Folk Dance Camp from 1987 to 2003 as an assistant teacher in 1987 and 1988 and then teaching her own non-partner class from 1989 to 2003. She taught at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu, California, in 2008 and 2009. She served on the Stockton committee for fifteen years.
Edwin G. "Ed" Austin has been the artistic director of Folk Dance Ensemble at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah since 1985. He is an Associate Professor of BUYs World Dance Division and has been president of the Utah Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (UAPHERD). Ed is the Artistic Director of the BYU National Cloggers Festival and Clog Camp of which his wife, Vickie, is the coordinator. Vickie is also editor of "The Folk Dancer," the BYU Inernational Folk Dance Ensemble (IFDE) alumni newsletter. In addition to being the Artistic Director of the International Folk Dance Ensemble, he has been on the University Athletic Advisory Council, the College Rank Advancement Committee, the College Magazine, the Department Faculty Advisor, and the Department Scholarship Committee. He has research Interests and has staged World Dance, the Evolution of World Dance Forms, World Dance Music, Welsh Step Dance, American Clog Dance, and Dance in the 19th Century LDS Church. Ed says, "We live in a fast-paced world but we need to slow down and show the proper respect so we do not run the risk of showing disrespect to things which are sacred and important."
Roo Lester began folk dancing as part of rainy day physical education at school. Raised in what we call a multi-cultural family, she received an early introduction into varying cultural views. A college folk dance class led to a Masters in Dance, with a focus in Dance Ethnology, from UCLA. Roo has been observing, learning, and studying Scandinavian dance since she saw the Hambo on the dance floor when she was in college. She began teaching Scandinavian dance after her first visit to the San Diego State University Folk Dance Conference where she met Ingvar Sodal. Roo has traveled extensively in Scandinavia studying Recreational International Folk Dance and participating in dance and music events including testing her skills and dancing in courses and competitions. She has been the American coordinator for several dance and music camps in Scandinavia. Roo teaches many different kinds of Scandinavian dance but has focused especially on what she calls the turning dances of Norway and Sweden. Her teaching is infused with a great love of dancing and a desire to help others to love it too. Today she is recognized as one of the foremost exponents of Scandinavian dance in the United States.
Lee Otterholt has a multi-facetted career that includes roles as dancer, choreographer, dance contest judge, festival organizer, dance ensemble founder, author, and teacher. He directs the Syrtaki Greek folk dance ensemble. He was the Teacher of Ethnic and Folkloristic Dance at the Norwegian National Ballet School and the Norwegian National College of Music. He also is a designer and implementor of a folk dance teaching program used in Norwegian elementary and secondary schools including creation and production of teaching materials. Lee was a choreographer and dancer for many entertainment programs for the Norwegian National Broadcasting System, has taught Recreational International Folk Dance for the Dance on the Water cruises, and has taught at many festivals and camps.
Roberto Bagnoli grew up in Rome, where he was first introduced to folk music and dance, eventually taking part in several performances and teaching dance classes. He subsequently studied various forms of folk dance in workshops throughout Europe, Israel, and North America under the guidance of renowned choreographers and teachers. From 1995 to 2003, he performed as a dancer and choreographer with the Terra di Danza Dance Company and was involved in the production of Raggi di luna Italiana and Capriccio Italiano (Italian dances), GiroGiroMondo (dances from around the world), Keltic Emotion (Celtic dances), Mazal Tov (Israeli dances), and Ethnos (international folk dances). He is the founder of Folk Atelier Reggio Emilia (FARE), devoted to the development and conservation of folk dance heritage. He has organized some of the most important annual folk dance events in Italy, such as, Balkanot Israeli and Balkan Dance Camp, Maratona di Danza folk dance marathon, and Camp Yofi Israeli Dance Camp in Lago di Garda. He has completed the training program in Folk Dance Teaching led by Jan Knoppers from the National Dance Academy of Rotterdam, Netherlands.
DID I MISS SOMEONE?
You realize that there are many, many master teachers that I have not listed here, such as Ed Austin, Sunni Bloland, Tom Bozigian, Vonnie Brown, Andor Czompo, Elsie Dunin, Nelda Drury, Ada Dziewanowska, Vince and Robin Evanchuk, George Fogg, Morry Gelman, Karin Gotier, David Henry, Athan Karras, Atanas Kolarovski, Jaap Leegwater, Ahmet Lüleci, Yves Moreau, Bora Özkök, John Pappas, Stew Shacklette, Anthony Shay, C. Stewart Smith, Nena Šokčić, Katherine St. John, and a host of others. That's because they usually specialized in one nationality, rather than the broader Recreational International Folk Dance.
These master teachers are but a small number of the hundreds of Recreational International Folk Dance teachers around the United States, and around the world, who continue to pass on the cultures of other countries.