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Michael Gelman was born in Munich, Germany, to Morry and Nancy Gelman, both folk dancers. At the age of 14, with the help and encouragement of his parents, Michael started folk dancing with the Inter-Teens (International Teen Folk Dancers of Los Angeles, California). A long-time Inter-Teens teacher was Dick Oakes. By the age of 19, Michael became the Vorplattler (lead dance teacher) of the Bavarian Trachten Verein GTEV Oberlandler of Los Angeles, California. During this time, he continued to learn and teach other east-European folk dances.
In 1982, Michael began to study the challenging improvisational couple folk dances of Hungary and Romania. He traveled in the United States and made many trips abroad to study with both the masters and the local people, making so many trips to Europe as to lose count. From 1995 to 1998, he lived in Transylvania to be able to study dances first hand and see them danced in the village style as they continue to be done to this day, unlike almost no where else in all of Europe.
Since moving to Maryland in 1980, Michael has shared his love of folk dance with the Washington and Baltimore international folk dance groups, and German and Hungarian ethnic groups. He has taught workshops in California, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Canada, and Germany. His workshops range from the Bavarian Schuplattle and Austrian Ländler to the Transylvanian couple dances of Hungary and Romania, to general international line and couple folk dances.
Michael teaches and enjoys dances from the regions and areas of Banat, Beces (Vienna), Belgrade, Bihor, Bistriţa, Bohemia, Braşov, Budapeşt, Buchareşt, and various areas of Bulgaria.
He has been a member of a number of performing groups, many as the dance instructor, including: Dimitrov Bulgarian Ensemble - Washington, DC.; GTEV d'Oberlandler - Los Angeles, California; GTV Immergrün - Baltimore, Maryland; Hargita Hungarian Dance Ensemble - Csikszerda, Romania; Narod Balkan Dancers - Baltimore, Maryland; Szamos Transylvanian Ensemble - Baltimore, MD; Tisza Hungarian Dance Ensemble - Washington, DC; and Zemya Balkan Ensemble - Washington, DC.
In 2007, Michael built a house in Transylvania, Romania. In 2010, Michael had hip-replacement surgery. In 2011, Michael had a second hip replacement.
He is married and has a wild dog named Blackie.
Dances Michael has taught include Ahrntaler, Ana lugojana, Arap, Bihor, Bronchidai Cycle, Calota, Čapraz, Cimpoi, Dajčovo Horo, Damul, De a Lungul, Dobroluško Horo, Doiul, Dreisteirer, Ducačka Polka, Feistritzer, Finsterauer, Floricica Olteneasca, Geampara, Hora dela Petrechioaia Damul, Hora Isalniţa, Jove Male Mome, Kalotaszégi Cycle, Katia, Kokiče, Kopriva, Kujawiak, Küküllömenti Cycle, Lädlerisch, Matura del Sinnoculaul Mare, Mezöségi Cycle, Miheşu de Cîmpie Cycle, Mocaneasca, Neppendorfer Ländler, Obernzeller Ländler, Offener Waltz, Pinzgauer Wicker, Pongauer Waltzer, Powolniak, Pravo Rodopsko Horo, Rohrbacker Ländler, Rørospols, Rosentaler Steirer, Rustemul, Scéki Cycle, Schwarzenberger Ländler, Sej Sej Bop, Sîrba dela Beleşti, Sîrba din Cimpoi, Sitno Vlaško Horo, St. Oswalt Steirischer, Stara Vlainia, Steinhauser Ländler, Székely Cycle, Széki Cycle, Szilagysági Cycle, Telespringar, Trei Păzeşte, Tropanka, Ugrós, Untersteirer, Vajdaszentiványi Cycle, Vrapčeto, Vrtielka Čardáš, Welser Boarischer, Zillertaler Ländler, and Zwiefacher.