Ned and Marian Gault
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Marian Smith became hooked on folk dancing when she worked in Yosemite National Park and attended classes held for the park employees. She moved to San Jose, California, and met Ned Gault in an adult education class taught by Ned's parents. In 1958, his parents decided to stop teaching and Ned and Marian "inherited" their first class, an advanced class with over 100 dancers in it. This was the heyday of folk dancing under Adult Education, with twelve large classes a week in the program, and enough dancers to fill San Jose Civic Auditorium for their annual festival, where each class was expected to perform a dance in costume. Marian and Ned enjoyed these performances, and for general dancing they began doing solo tangos and tango choreographies, such as Tango Poquito, El Gaucho Tango, and La Encantada Tango, which are still found on the programs of folk dance groups and festivals. They became active leaders in the local, then Northern California, folk dance movement, both serving in many capacities for the Folk Dance Federation of California, Inc.
The Gaults have extensive background in teaching all levels of international folk dance, from classes for recreation to the concert stage. In addition to their Adult Education dance programs, they also taught classes in folk dance for San Jose State University Summer Sessions, for West Valley College in the regular school session for ten years, for many recreation departments and dance conferences, and for the Santa Clara Adult Education program. 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.
In 1962 Ned and Marian were married, with local dance groups giving a huge party for them. Ned became president of the Folk Dance Federation (North) and Lawton Harris invited the couple to teach at Folk Dance Camp (now the Stockton Folk Dance Camp) at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California. They remained on the teaching faculty of Stockton Camp for 28 years, teaching tangos at first and, after the passing of Madelynne Greene, teaching folk dance techniques and basic repertoire classes. At the same time, Ned was in charge of sound equipment setup and maintenance for the Camp and its early videotaping of teachers for permanent records. Marian, as artist and calligrapher, designed the syllabus covers and did artwork for publicity.
In 1966, they formed the Ensemble International, a performing folk dance group under the sponsorship of the City of Sunnyvale, California. They continue to remain with the group as Artistic Directors and choreographers, averaging 40 to 60 performances a year. Some of their memorable performances include one at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, one at the 1974 World's Fair in Spokane, Washington, one for His Majesty King Karl Gustav of Sweden, and twice representing the countries of France and Switzerland at the Festival of Nations concerts in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group members are from Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Austria.
Since 1967, 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. Because of their long study of German and Austrian dances, they are among the top three or four teachers of those dances in this country, and for two summers at University of the Pacific they taught as specialists the dances of Austria. Their major strength is the wide range of countries and cultures whose dances they can teach. They have collected dance material, videotapes, notes, music, records, and costume information from all over Central Europe. Dancing with groups, working with musicians, attending festivals and celebrations, and staying in the homes of foreign friends have given them a unique understanding of the people and their dance, music, and culture. They have taught 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.
The Gaults have a background in stage production, choreography, costuming, sound/lighting, and music and have produced full-length concerts at many theaters in Northern California. They also were concert directors for numerous California Statewide Folk Dance Festivals. In 1995, 1998, and 1999, their ensemble's concerts were part of the City of San Jose Performing Arts Series at the Montgomery Theater.
Ned is a musician, composer, and arranger, playing the button-accordion, a common folk instrument found all over Europe, and the autoharp, one of the two musical instruments that are of American origin. He directs a small orchestra which has produced two commercial tapes of Austrian folk music. (These tapes are even used by a few teachers in Austria to teach Austrian dance to their own young people.) He has published a book of his musical compositions, sold nationally, and he plays for weddings, parties, social events, Oktoberfests, etc. His autoharp music is in demand for many types of functions, especially at Christmas time. While teaching at San Jose State University, Ned taught the Chemistry Department's glassblowing class and wrote the lab manual used to teach the course. He has continued to use these skills in artistic designs of butterflies, snails, roses, wheat, and other forms that can be found in many local home collections. During his 26 years at Leigh High School, Ned taught chemistry and computer programming, wrote programs for teacher use, and became a major force in the Campbell Union High School District's early planning for technology use in its schools, as well as giving classes and workshops for district teachers and for the "Teachers Helping Teachers" conferences sponsored by the Institute of Computer Technology in Sunnyvale. After his retirement from class teaching, he became a technology consultant for his school district and has continued to be a resource for teachers.
Marian is an accomplished watercolor painter and calligrapher and teachers classes, participates in calligraphy and art exhibits, shows, and contests; has won awards for her work; and is member of the local Pacific Scribes guild, as well as Friends of Calligraphy (San Franciso), the Washington Calligrapher's Guild (Maryland), and IAMPETH (International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting). She is a member of the Los Gatos Art Association and Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society and participates in their jured shows and other events. Each year she does Open Studios, where her watercolor paintings and calligraphy are on display in a countrywide program in which artists have their home studios open to the public for visiting, and the showing, and sale of their work. Marian is president of the Alliance of Visual Artists, a coalition of about 20 Peninsula art organizations which make up the annual South Bay Fine Arts Festival, held at the Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, the first weekend of June. In addition, she is cochair of this event. She also does pen and ink drawings and has produced a large volume of folk-dance-oriented art, for magazines, the University of the Pacific seminar's syllabus cover, calendars, advertising, etc, and has reproductions of many of her paintings and calligraphy pieces available as matted prints and note cards, having produced two series of note cards displaying pen and ink drawings of folk costumes and related embroidery and folk designs. She also does watercolor paintings and calligraphy on commission.
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. They feel that the most rewarding, challenging part is the development and training of new teachers and working with beginners and new dancers to increase their enjoyment of dance and to encourage them to stay and partake of this unique activity, which adds music, movement, mental stimulation, and awareness of other cultures to their lives. They strongly push keeping and teaching a "basic core" of dances which can be used at classes, parties, festivals, and other venues to allow dancers to come together and dance comfortably with one another. These are the areas they feel need a national effort to bring new people into the folk dance movement. The Gaults are committed to the belief that those who have been in folk dance the longest and who have achieved some degree of national recognition in the field of international folk dancing should try to promote awareness folk dancing and lend the most weight to a national campaign to make folk dancing grow.
In 1970 the first of their little books, 100 & 1 Easy Folk Dances, was published as a teaching tool for their students at Stockton Folk Dance Camp. This publication was followed in the next years by 100 & 1 More Easy Folk Dances and One Half 100 & 1 More Easy Folk Dances. These books have taken their place as handy reference tools for folk dance teachers across this country and in several others, helping to spread these dances and keep them alive.
In 2000, Ned and Marian (Smith) Gault received the National Folk Organization (NFO) National Folk Dance Award.
Dances that Ned and Marion have taught include Ahava Atika, Bauernmadl, Einfacher Dreher, El Gaucho Tango, Feiar med Vals, Fieberbrunner, Hambo, Kaiserländler, Kärntner Dreisteirer, Körcsárdás, Krakowiak, Kujawiak, La Encantada Tango, La Vida Alegre Tango, Lembacher Ländler, Mazur, Neppendorfer Ländler, Nerissa Waltz, Päscher aus Mieger, Polonez, Pongauer Walzer, Sašino Kolo, Selker Bairisch, Silver Moon, Snurrbocken, Sønderhoning, Swedish-Finn Mixer, Tango Campana, Tango Marianna, Tango Poquito, Tingo Tango, Tiroler Figurentanz, Untersteirer Ländler, Veitscher Masur, Vossarull, Waldhansl Steirischer, Walpole Cottage, Wattentaller Masolka, and Wechselpolka.