Sonny and Nancy Newman
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Oliver "Sonny" Newman was born on April 2, 1931, to Iva J. Newman in Colorado. At the age of 13, he left home to wander the wide-open spaces. Before dedicating his life to dance, Sonny farmed in Washington State and herded sheep in Montana.
Sonny has had training in folk, ballet, jazz, modern, and social dance, receiving much of his dance training at Julilliard School of Music and Dance and at other professional studios in New York City. While in New York, he trained under such greats as José Limón, Antony Tudor, and Mia Slavenska. He studied tango in Argentina and traveled to Greece on a research tour to learn Greek folk dance. He owned and ran his own dance studio in New York City, New York, called, appropriately, "Newman Folk Dance Center," and has been dancing and teaching since 1951.
Sonny has choreographed musicals in Denver, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington, including The King and I, Bye Bye Birdie, Finian's Rainbow, Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Irma la Douce.
Sonny has been a guest instructor at Yale, Princeton, University of California at Los Angeles, and for the Fuex Follets in Montréal. He has been on staff at University of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp (later renamed Stockton Folk Dance Camp), the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference, and the University of Colorado Dance Department. He also directed a dance conference in Seattle, Washington, at Camp Long called the "Summer Dance Camp" (July 26-31, 1971), teaching along with Joan Englander and Dick Oakes (center in photo below).
In addition to his teaching of Greek folk dance, Sonny is an exacting, impeccable teacher of dances of other nationalities, asking much of his students. His attentive pupils respond with a demonstration ability that surprises some and pleases all. Sonny brings a knowledge of the history and culture that inspire dance, and has an abiding love of music. Since 1987, Sonny has specialized in Argentine Tango -- its history, poetry, and dance.
In 1988, Sonny taught Greek dances and the tango at the Folk Dance Symposium in Santa Barbara.
Sonny (at right in photo) is founder of the large movement toward Argentine Tango in Seattle where he opened his Sonny Newman's Dance Hall, which he runs with his wife, Nancy (left in photo). The Dance Hall presents two annual Tango Balls, bringing in the finest musicians, teachers, and dancers available. Sonny teaches several classes weekly, offering group and private instruction, performance, and regular dances in Argentine Tango. Other types of dance and activities available at Sonny's include Swing / Lindy Hop, Salsa, Waltz, Zydeco, and Jazzercise.
Dances Sonny has taught include Aino Kchume, Ballos, Ballos from Kassos, Daldalar, Dodi Dodi, Dodi Tsach Vaadom, Epirotiko Kalamatiano, Epirotiko Tsamiko, Ez Vakeves, Grigoro Hasapiko, Kalamatiano, Karagouna, Kasiotiko Sousta, Kastrinos, Kritiko Syrto, Leriko, Oberek, Papuri, Pentozali, Şiro, Sousta Medley, Syrto, Tamzara, Tango, Temilav, Tsamiko (16-count), "Turning" Syrto, Vari Hasapiko, W Dolina, Zagoritikos, and Zeybekiko.