Millie and Oscar Libaw
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Millie was born in Budapest, Hungary, at the turn of the century. There she lived and attended grammar school until the age of ten, when she moved to the U.S.A. Millie continued her schooling in America until she reached the age of 13, when she traded classes for a job in a factory. At 17 she met and eloped with Oscar Libaw and they were married.
An old European adage proclaims that the blood of a true Magyar contains not red and white corpuscles, but six ingredients:
4. Rhythm and Music
This, in a nutshell, could be a character sketch of Millie Libaw, a roving ambassadress of goodwill.
In the early 1940's Millie was attending women's gym classes at the Queen Anneplayground in Los Angeles when she happened to see some folk dancing and decided to try it because it looked like everyone was having such a good time. For Millie it was "love at first sight." Soon her enthusiasm infected Oscar, too, and they were "hooked for life."
The Libaw's first teacher was Helen Schyler and the first of the many groups they were eventually to join was the now-defunct Los Angeles Co-op Folk Dancers. In this group Millie eventually became an officer, serving in various capacities: Treasurer, President, etc. Eventually she joined, in rapid succession, Berendo, Hollywood Peasants, Pasadena Co-op, Santa Monica Folk Dancers, and Westwood Co-op.
It was not in keeping with Millie's impatient bubbling nature to be merely a member in a group she has to be active. No group has been turned down when she was asked to teach, no matter how last-minute the request. Her ways with beginners worked wonders to break the ice for people who are slow to make friends. The more gregarious ones very quickly felt as though they had known her all their lives.
An inveterate traveller, Millie took at least one long trip every year and always taught the dances so popular in California, in the far—off places she visited: Hawaii, Israel, Greece, etc., even on board ship, while going to and from these places. In 1959 she went to Hawaii "for a rest" and ended up teaching not only to adults in the evenings, but to school children during the day.
Millie was a champion of causes. She needed only to hear of individuals or groups in trouble and she came to the rescue, giving freely of her time, effort, and, not infrequently, her money.
Many Southern California groups had Millie as their guest teacher. Among the groups who benefited from her experience were Berendo, Garden Grove, Pasadena, Saturday Mix-ers, and Westwood, not to mention the many, many groups she taught in foreign countries on her yearly trips. Millie was approached by members of a temple in Los Angeles with a request to organize a new beginner's group. From that emerged the Beverly Folk Dancers.
Her hobbies, other than folk dancing, were travelling, helping her fellow-men (and women), feeding her friends Hungarian goodies, and collecting costumes and dolls in costumes in every country she visited.
Millie would rather dance with her friends and stay young just simply by being too much on the go to gather the moss of old age. Her enthusiasm infected many non-dancers and made avid fans of them.
Millie died on October 3, 1989 at the age of 93.
Dances Millie taught include Adarim, Bona Habanot, Canadian Samba, Csárdás, Debka Rafiach, Hava Nitze Bemahol, and Ropogós.