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Madelyn (Mady) Taylor came to California with her family in 1948, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles in what she thinks of as an "organically integrated" neighborhood. As a child she studied ballet with Phyllis Moore, who had annual recitals at the Wilshire Ebell Auditorium.
Mady holds a Master's Degree in Dance Ethnology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a BA in English Literature. As an undergraduate she began her passion with dance ethnology and ethnomusicology. In 1958, she took a folk dance class at UCLA in order to satisfy a physical education requirement. Professor Elsie Ivancich Dunin, was her mentor both as an undergraduate, as well as her advisor as a graduate.
She was a women's director, a charter member, a choreographer, and soloist, with the Balkan section of Dr. Anthony Shay's AMAN Folk Ensemble, originally known as The UCLA Village Dancers, and taught the repertoire to all new members for the company's first three years. Later she helped design, organize, and teach at the annual "AMAN Institute." During the 1960s and 1970s, she performed with Elsie Dunin's Yugoslavian UCLA Group, as well as with her Hungarian group, Betyárok.
Mady also performed with Westwind (Neal Sandler - International), Hadarim (Shlomo Bachar - Israeli), The Liberty Assembly (Robin Evanchuck - American Traditional), and Sianca (Vince Evanchuk - Ukrainian). While attending the University of California, Berkley, in 1959, she studied with Lucille Czarnowski, co-founder of the California Folk Dance Federation. She also took classes with, and was influenced by four major forces, who have passed on, in the Balkan dance and music movement: Pece Atanasovski, Dick Crum, Rubi Vučeta, and Dennis Boxell. Most recent teacher of note is Steve Kotansky, friend and dance partner in AMAN.
Mady has been passing on on this rich legacy from teaching children's dance classes at The Intersection to adult Balkan classes at Mihai David's Gypsy Camp. She taught the first Balkan dance classes at "Sweet's Mill," forerunner to the EEFC Mendocino Balkan Music and Dance Workshop, while married to Ed Leddel, well-known tâpanji with AMAN, Balkan brass band, Pitu Guli, and for ethnic communities throughout California. For a number of years (late 1980s to early 1990s), Mady served as assistant to Miamon Miller, director of the EEFC Balkan Camps in Mendocino, California, and Buffalo Gap in West Virginia.
After moving to Greece in 1995, Mady began studying Greek traditional dances with Yiannis Konstantinou (Lyngistes) and Marina Xristofaki (Dora Stratou). While living in Athens and on Kalymnos, Mady attended workshops featuring Greek traditional dance and customs, taught by master teachers from many different geographic zones. In Greece, she represented the United States folkdance community at four international conferences, three of which were sponsored by UNESCO. She also was invited to teach dance at an annual Rebetiko music conference. Back in Los Angeles since 2002, she continues to take courses in Greece, Europe, and in North America.
Mady has been choreographer of ethnic material for stage, screen, and television, such as "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," and "Beverly Hills, 90210." As the first multi-cultural consultant and teacher with Performing Tree, beginning in 1976, she developed teacher training and student workshops in folk dance forms. Mady taught and produced International Folk Dance Festivals for children at schools throughout Southern California. For young adults, she has taught various dance forms at UCLA, Loyola Marymount, and Pepperdine Universities.
In 1976, Mady developed a local dance/exercise program for the Southern California branch of the Arthritis Foundation. What started as an in-the-chair stretching program for seniors at the Westside Jewish Comunity Center, under the encouraging eye of Athletic Director, Eli Sherman, became the prototype for the National Arthritis Foundation (AF) exercise and movement programs. With a growing demand for this kind of program, in 1977, Mady, together with Rosmarie Ocasio and Joyce Dace, collaborated to create "Joint Efforts," replete with training classes for trainers, teachers, and students. They wrote manuals, made videos, taught this method, and helped certify teachers throughout the United States. This class was approved by International Rheumatologists, such as Dr. Rodney Bluestone. Her video tapes were acknowledged by National Arthritis Foundation, with a commendation to the Southern Los Angeles Chapter for sponsoring this program. By the time Mady left the AF to move to Greece, there were fifty students per class, twice a day, five days a week!
Besides dancing with Sherry Cochran-Kirk's Balkan Class, L.I.F.E., at Cafe Danssa for many years, in July 2004, with long time folkdance buddy, Ian Price, Mady started Café AMAN (CA). This has been held the second Saturday each month since its inception. Ian takes care of the music, that is, arranges for various bands, a number of which he plays with and directs or plans an "oldies-but-goodies" all-request evening with compact disks. Mady organizes the dance part of CA, by inviting friends from the folkdance community to guest teach, as well as teaching herself. As of March 2007, this popular Balkan, Greek, Middle Eastern dance/music event has had a home at Shida Pacific Arts Center in West Los Angeles.
Last but not least, Mady is very busy with her family. Her daughter, Heidi, is married to David, and they have three children and two dogs, Munchie and Butters. Her son, Eric Leddel, is married to Sharon, and they have two children and Alfie. Mady loves "grand-kid and pup-sitting" walking (especially in the rain); Yoga and other movement classes; reading; listening to classical music; going to movies and the theater; assisting musician friends with their concerts; producing ethnic dance events; and spending quality time with family and close friends.
As for folk dancing, Mady says that on the very first day of her very first folk dance class with Annamarie Steinbiss, in the UCLA Woman's Gym, she saw people dancing Eleno Mome, Hambo, Drmeš iz Zdenčine, and Marklander. "I have been extremely lucky to have had the best of the best teachers in the world, and will never forget the shock and awe my mouth dropped open and my eyes were wide open I did not want to miss anything by blinking! Cupid put an arrow in my heart that very moment, and he has never taken it out!"
Mady specializes in dances from Greece: Epiros, Asia Minor, and Macedonia, and mostly enjoys teaching pan-Balkan women's dances and styling. Some favorites she has taught are: Aptalikos, Baidushkino, Beranče, Beratis, Bukite Rasvivat, Čuperlika, Čoček, Dajčovo Horo, Dimitroula, Et Dodim Kala, Gajde Preshevare, Gorno Djumajko, Harmonica, Gashir Sheli, Hora Chassidit, Hora Mamtera, Hora Neurim, Karatsova, Karsilamas Imbrou, Kirko na Čardak, Sedese Kopanica, Leventikos, Lisavo, Marena, Nevestinsko, Olmas, Osman Aga, Pajduška, Pâtrunino, Pravo Horo, Râčenica, Sadilo Mome/Tropnalo Oro, Sofka, Stankena, Sulimanovo, Tsama Tsama, Women's Tsamiko, Tropnalo Oro, Tsiftitellis (old style), Vari Pogonisios, Zagorisios, and Žensko Berančle.
Most recent dances taught in Southern California (learned from Steve Kotansky) are: Bavnata, Fato Fato, Gajde Presevare, Gilanka, and Valle Hajde Merren Furken.