Dunaj
International Folk Ensemble

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THIS IS HISTORICAL INFORMATION ONLY


It was about 1976 when a request was received by Joyce Greeley (now Nerad) from a teacher at a middle school in Newport Beach to present a folk dance performance for a festival the school was holding. Joyce referred her to Richard Duree who was a long-time folk dancer and was teaching folk and social dance at Orange Coast College, having recently completed a Dance Ethnology Master's degree from Cal State University, Fullerton.

The conversation that started it all went something like this:

"What countries can you represent?"
"Well, let's see: Hungary, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Bavaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania."
"(Gasp!) But those are all Communist countries! Can you emphasize the German?"
"No, not really. My mother is Hungarian and that's my heritage. I can only have one couple in Bavarian costume."
Silence. Long pregnant pause, then, worriedly, "Well, OK. Can you fill about 45 minutes?"

And so, in 1977, the Dunaj International Folk Ensemble was born. From that first 45-minute demonstration of "Communist" folk dances, Dunaj went on to perform for over 30 years in Orange County, California.

In 1977 and 1978, Richard attended the Hungarian workshop with Sándor Timár in Sárospatek, Hungary and in 1978 produced the Széki Táncrend at the only Pontozó held in Los Angeles, the first time it was performed in the United States.

Dunaj, Palotas 2

Palotas
Front Left to Right: Lynn Berkwits, Sharon Chard, Tina Bevan,
Susi Johnson, Henrietta Bemis, Sharon Pate, Wendy Wetzel Harder,
Lori Leaverton Smith, Jill Kleiss, Kathy Seabourne.
Back Left to Right: Herb Berkwits, Preston Ashbourne,
Richard Duree (Director), Nate Lambrozo, John Matthews, Nick Harder,
Steve Dulson, Bob Altman, Al Misbrenner

One of Dunaj's longest playing choreographies was the Appalachian Clog Suite, that was performed for many years to live music from our own five-piece band. The company's Oktoberfest repertoire was performed at Oktoberfests throughout Southern California for more than 25 years. Richard drew upon his vast repertoire to create choreographies from Greece, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Vojvodina, Romania, and from several master choreographers:

Yerevan Suite (Tom Bozigian), Pilzen Suite and Sellacky (Dr. František Bonuš), and Slovak Wine Celebration (Vladimir Urban).

Members of the company were provided the opportunity to experience the creation of their own choreographies as their skill and knowledge would enable.

Dunaj, Ghawazee 1

Ghawazee
Left to Right: Michele Dulson, Christine Mendoza,
Henrietta Bemis, Susi Johnson

 

Dunaj, Appalachian Clog 3

Appalachian Clog
Left to Right: Preston Ashbourne, Al Misbrenner,
Richard Duree (Director), Steve Dulson

Sue Simms and Kathy Seabourne, two superb Middle-Eastern dancers, joined the company and produced the Tunisian Sha'abi and Egyptian Ghawazee performances that remained a major part of Dunaj's repertoire for almost 20 years.

In 1998, with California's Sesquicentennial approaching in 2000, Richard researched and choreographed "Ecos del Fandango," a suite portraying the dances of Early California; dances from that suite are still performed and taught to folk dancers and others with an interest in Early California history.

Ragtime dance became popular with the company and an extensive repertoire of Ragtime dance was incorporated into the performance collection. Richard, and his wife Ruth Levin, are still featured teachers at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento every November.

Dunaj, Sellacky 1

Sellacky from western Slovakia
Left to Right: Bob Altman, Jill Kleiss, Steve Dulson, Al Misbrenner,
Margie O'Donnell, Richard Duree (Director)

 

Dunaj, Sellacky 2

Sellacky from western Slovakia
Left to Right: Richard Duree, Tina Duree,
Rob McCollom, Patty McCollom, John Matthews,
Wendy Wetzel Harder, John Menke, Michele Dulson,
Preston Ashbourne, Lynn Berkwits

During its lifetime, Dunaj produced and performed many full-length dance concerts in Orange County and throughout Southern California. There have been over a hundred members over the years. The company toured Hungary and Croatia with their Appalachian Clog Suite in 1987.

Most Dunaj members have moved on to other pursuits; many of them have become outstanding musicians and still contribute to the folk dance and music community in Orange County.

Richard Duree, Director


Flyers

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1979

 

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1982

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1983

 

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1985


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Brochure

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Roster

Bob Altman
Preston Ashbourne
Ralph Bates
Hernietta Bemis
Herb & Lynn Berkwits
Jackie Bouvier
Laura Bremer
Gloria Brindle-Lamb
Donna Buck
Sharon Chard
Randy Davis
Rochelle Dreeben
Steve & Michele Dulson
Keti Dumbadze
Tina Duree-Bevan
Sharon Elsensohn
Paula Erbay
Duane Flaten
Sheryl Fuller
Jim & Christina Garner
Elida George
Dennis Gilmore
Palma Goulet
Grozda Guzian
Wendy Harder

 

Doris Hobson
Lin Lin Hsieh
Valerie Hunter
Jane Iacovetti
Michael Janko
Jan Johnson
Susi Johnson
Mary King
Richard King
Tom King
Jill Kleiss
Heidi Kuyper
Kriss Larson
Ruth Levin
Lorraine Mann
Fred Maragheh
John & Mary K. Matthews
Maria McCarty
Rob & Patty McCollom
Chrisine Mendoza
John Minke
Al Misbrenner
Julith Neff
Joyce Nerad
David & Kristy Noble

 

Margie O'Donnell
Marlene Parmenter
Sandy Rhys Quackenbush
Liz Reid
Tom Santrizos
Todd Savits
Mark Schultz
Kathy Seabourne
Sue Simms
Lori Leaverton Smith
Tom Spratt
Ivy Szobonya
Carol Taylor-Olsen
Pat Thomas
Victor Torres
Ray Vasta
Anita Moore Wells
Ken Wenzel
Sandy Wodicka
Mike Wright
Norika Yencso

 
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