STOCKTON FOLK DANCE CAMP
2019 Featured Guests
Aaron Alpert started dancing before he was born! His parents met at Israeli folk dancing in Los Angeles, and his childhood is filled with dance memories, from participating in his first dance camp at the age of two months, to acting as his father’s “remote control” when he taught, to performing in Saturday night talent shows at the Camp Alonim for Jewish youth that takes place every summer just north of Los Angeles, California.
In his first year at UC Berkeley, Aaron became one of the instructors and the curriculum developer for Jewish Studies 98: The Israeli Dance DeCal. In January 2009, Aaron joined the teaching/DJ rotation at Cafe Simcha, a weekly Israeli dance session held near Berkeley. He also sporadically substitutes for leaders of other South Bay Israeli dance groups.
In October 2012, Aaron started his own dance session, Nirkoda! (Let’s dance!) in the San Francisco Bay area. After the first 10 months in a small studio on the Stanford University campus, the evening dance party was popular enough to require moving to a larger venue, Temple Etz Chayim in Palo Alto, California, where it continues to attract dancers. Aaron has been a staff member at Camp Rikud, an annual dance camp for Israeli dance aficionados.
Aaron attended Stockton Folk Dance Camp as a participant in 2017 and was a member of the faculty in 2018. This is his second time on the teaching staff.
CRISTIAN FLORESCU AND SONIA DION
Cristian Florescu was born in Bucharest, Romania. He started dancing in 1982 with different Romanian folk ensembles and studied with various specialists, including Theodor Vasilescu. In 1993, he joined Les Sortilèges, a professional folk dance company based in Montreal, Canada, where he danced, taught and choreographed. During that time, Cristian acquired multiple skills in various dance forms, including modern dance, ballroom, jazz and tap, as well as French-Canadian and Irish step dancing.
Sonia Dion was born in Quebec and has been a professional dancer for over 20 years. She was lead dancer, choreographer and artistic director, among other roles, for Les Sortilèges dance company, where she developed several productions. Sonia has toured worldwide and has been exposed to a wide range of dance techniques, including Romanian folk dance, Scottish Highland dancing, French-Canadian step dance and ballroom dance.
It was at Les Sortilèges that the two met and formed a professional and personal partnership.
In recent years, Cristian and Sonia have developed a specific interest in working with recreational folk dance groups, teaching in Brazil, Canada and the United States, as well as all over Europe and Asia, to share their love of Romanian folk traditions. They have choreographed Romanian suites for performing groups, including the world-renowned Brigham Young University Folk Dance Ensemble.
Sonia Dion and Cristian Florescu are known for their vibrant energy, warmth, and exciting choice of dances and music. The Camp was also honored by being the site of their wedding in 2010. They will be celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.
This will be Cristian and Sonia’s tenth appearance on the Stockton Folk Dance Camp teaching faculty.
Gigi has directed three stage shows (2005, 2008, 2015), a major tango festival in Houston, Texas (2010), and the New World Tap Festival (2015), as well as numerous Latin American programs.
Gigi enjoys her role as an emcee and has appeared in programs at the California Academy of Sciences, Santa Clara University, BATango’s “Tango in the Square” and in “Asi se Baila el Tango,” broadcast several times on a San Francisco television station. She has been interviewed on Univision’s KDTV Channel 14, and on US, Argentine, and Mexican radio. Recently, Gigi performed in Buenos Aires, and taught in the north of Argentina. She continues to travel and study tango and folk dance in Argentina.
She has been a judge for Carnaval San Francisco, and worked on the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards Committee, and various arts granting panels. She has been a community liaison for San Francisco’s Grants for the Arts and continues to work with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.
In addition to the two appearances on the Stockton teaching staff as Pampa Cortès’ teaching partner, she has attended Stockton as a camper the past five years. This will be Gigi's first time teaching, partnered by her husband, Warren, who has taught Argentine tango with Gigi for twelve years, and also studied with Pampa Cortés.
MELANIE AND MARCELLA LAWSON
Gergana Panova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and graduated with honors from the National High School for Dance zand the Academy for Music and Dance. She was a soloist and ballet master with Philip Koutev Ensemble, while also working with children and youth doing stage performances and establishing dance therapy in Sofia. Gergana is trained as a stage performer, dance teacher, choreographer, ethnologist, stage director, and Laban notator. She is currently a professor of Ethnochoreology at Folkwang University and at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
She is the author of two books and more than 70 articles on Bulgarian dance and intercultural communication. She has organized several summer culture seminars in Bulgaria and has taught over 300 dance workshops in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. She teaches dances from all ethnographic regions of Bulgaria with a special emphasis on their traditional, ritual, and contemporary aspects.
Gergana also co-founded the Theater Department of the New Bulgarian University and still works with the Theatre Total in Bochum in Germany. For 23 years, she was director of the Dance Archive at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Gergana visited Stockton Folk Dance Camp briefly in 2016. This will be her first appearance on the Stockton teaching staff.
AMERICAN SQUARES AND CONTRAS
Tony Parkes has been calling square and contra dances for more than 50 years. Starting in the 1960s, he learned from many of the leading callers and teachers of the day, such as Don Armstrong, Don Durlacher, Michael and Mary Ann Herman, Dick Kraus, Dick Leger and Ralph Page. He has taught at Mainewoods, Mendocino, Ontario, and Texas folk dance camps, as well as at Augusta, Brasstown, Buffalo Gap and Pinewoods square/contra camps, and innumerable state and regional weekend festivals. His calling has taken him to 35 states, Canada, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England and Germany.
Tony specializes in the contra dances and quadrille-type squares of New England and the “transitional” squares of the 1950s, when traditional Western square dancing was developing into the modern variety. Like his illustrious mentors, he believes in keeping these dance forms accessible to as many people as possible. He has beginners doing real dances within seconds, and can keep experienced dancers entertained with a bit of challenge or elegance.
Using traditional basic movements, Tony has composed over 90 square and contra dance routines, some of which have become modern classics. He is the author of a standard text on calling contras and is writing a companion volume on calling squares. Several recordings feature Tony as caller, pianist, director and/or producer. He is a core consultant to the Square Dance History Project (www.squaredancehistory.org), a virtual online museum of over 1,500 videos, audios, photographs, and articles documenting both traditional and modern square dancing.
Tony and his wife Beth, also a caller, live in the Boston area. When not at a camp, they divide their calling time between appearing at weekly and monthly dance series throughout (and beyond) New England, most with live music, and presiding at corporate, civic and private parties for people who are dancing for the first time.
This will be Tony’s third consecutive year on the Stockton Folk Dance Camp teaching staff.
Vlasto was born in 1957 in Romanovce, Kumanovo, Macedonia. At the young age of 13, he became a member of the folk dance group Cvetan Dimov in Skopje, transferring in high school to the academic folk dance group Mirce Acev. In 1977, Vlasto auditioned for Tanec, the national ensemble of folk dances and songs, as a folk dancer and singer. Vlasto worked in Tanec until 1995, building a wealth of experience in presenting Macedonian folklore and culture. During the same time period, he was the choreographer of the folk dance group Grigor Prlicev in Skopje. Vlasto emigrated to Canada in 1995, and a year later restarted the Macedonian folk dance group Ilinden of St. Ilija Macedonian Orthodox Church in Mississauga, Ontario. His children, Emilija and Marjan, were top-performing dancers in Ilinden, and his wife is also an accomplished dancer.
This is Vlasto’s second appearance on Stockton Folk Dance Camp’s teaching faculty.
Richard Powers is currently a dance historian and social dance instructor at Stanford University’s Dance Division. His focus since 1975 has been the research and reconstruction of American and European social dance forms, working from a personal collection of over 2,000 historic dance manuals. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in American social dance, noted for his workshops in Paris, Rome, Prague, London, Venice, Geneva, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Edinburgh and 24 times in Tokyo, as well as across the U.S. and Canada.
Richard has choreographed folk and vintage dance suites for many major companies, including AMAN Folk Ensemble, the Ethnic Dance Theatre of Minneapolis, the BYU Folk Ensemble, Ahmet Lüleci’s Collage Dance Ensemble in Boston, Westwind, and the Beseda Dance Theatre in Prague.
Besides Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Richard has taught at many of the major dance workshops and camps, including Mainewoods, Pinewoods, the National Folk Dance Federation of Japan, several of California’s Statewide Festivals, Idyllwild, and Buffalo Gap, as well as many regional folk dance groups.
Richard is returning to teach at Stockton for the twelfth time since 1988.
Maurits Van Geel
INTERNATIONAL NON-PARTNER DANCES
Maurits Van Geel lives in The Netherlands and holds a degree in Arts and Crafts and Art History. He graduated as a folk dance teacher in 1977 and received his degree at Dance Academy level from the Ministry of Culture in 1986. He taught at folk dance clubs in Amsterdam and worked as a dance consultant for the City Council 1986-1988, initiating dance projects in schools in combination with setting up dance projects and festivals. Also in the 1980s, he specialized in the Appalachian clogging, worked as guest teacher in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany, and was invited to be a guest teacher at the Rotterdam Dance Academy.
He was employed by Het Internationaal Danstheater, a professional dance company in Amsterdam, first as choreographer and later as artistic director for 23 years (1988-2011). During his career, he produced over 47 theatre programs in the field of world dance for this company. Part of this job involved several months of dance research each year in order to prepare for these programs. His travels have included India, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Cherkassy, among many other countries. His archive consists of almost 900 DVDs, with research material from all over the world, most of it recorded by himself. He has also choreographed folk dances, among them Syrtós Kitrínou.
Since 2011, Maurits has been teaching, often with his wife Tineke. They have traveled to many European countries, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, and were guest teachers at a number of folk dance camps and workshops in North America.
In November 2017, Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, appointed Maurits Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau for his extensive contribution to dance.
Maurits first attended Stockton in 1986, as a camper, with his wife, Tineke. This will be Maurits’ first appearance on the Stockton teaching staff.
Tineke van Geel
INTERNATIONAL PARTNER DANCES
Tineke van Geel received her degree as folk dance instructor in 1977. She specializes in Armenian dance and works as a teacher and choreographer. Since 1985 she has regularly visited Armenia to study folklore at the Pedagogic Institute and Choreographic School in Yerevan. Part of each research trip was devoted to working with several amateur groups in Armenia and doing research on costumes. Two of those research trips were supported by scholarships of the Dutch government. On several occasions Tineke visited the United States to observe the dances performed by the Armenian communities there.
Tineke conducts workshops for students at various levels, beginning to professional, and has taught classes in international folk dance, Dutch and Armenian dances in many countries of the world, a fact that didn’t remain unnoticed in Armenia. In 2006, she received an award from the Armenian government for her extraordinary devotion and energy in promoting Armenian dance, music and culture. All her research in Armenia has made her a world-renown specialist of Armenian dance.
In addition to a pleasant sense of humor, Tineke is an excellent teacher who can break down dance patterns step by step to enable every student to master the dances and to experience the joy of both learning and executing this exciting material. Combined with a vast knowledge of Armenian dance and culture, these qualities have contributed to her worldwide success and popularity. Besides giving workshops in 14 European countries she taught in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
The music for a lot of dances that were researched in Armenia had never been recorded. Therefore, Tineke invited bands from Armenia to make recordings in a Dutch studio and she produced a number of compact discs on her own Van Geel Records label, established in 1989. Recently these programs are also made available on DVD.
Tineke has also conducted over 40 successful dance and culture tours to Armenia which have been attended by hundreds of participants from all over the world. Recently Georgia was also included in some tour programs.
Tineke first attended Stockton in 1986, as a camper, with her husband Maurtis. Since then, she has been on the teaching staff five times.
Miamon Miller and Free Range Organic
MIAMON MILLER - Band Director, Violin
Miamon began his musical career as a classical violinist but became entranced with the world of traditional music, joining the Aman Folk Ensemble in the 1970s and later becoming its artistic director. Since that time, he's played in many groups including the seminal Pitu Guli ensemble, the NAMA orchestra, Fuge Imaginea, Trei Arcu?i and now his current quartet, the Garlic Band www.GarlicBand.com.
He studied ethnomusicology at UCLA, earning an MA and ABD whilst playing mariachi music in his spare time. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and spent a year living in Romania, studying Transylvanian folk music.
Miamon is widely experienced in mainstream music and has recorded with many well-known artists including Neil Sedaka and Neil Diamond. He has also composed and arranged music for film and television productions ranging from: Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Arabs In Detroit, And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself, Keeping Up With The Steins, and the PBS documentarySwimming in Auschwitz. He has also composed for theater, most recently the score for the Polish Bialystocki Teatr Lalek (Bialystok’s enormously popular puppet theater) production Czarne Ptacki Bialegostoku (The Black Birds of Bialystok).
Bill Cope – Many instruments
Bill Cope is a multi-instrumentalist who does not focus on just one instrument but performs on over 60 in many diverse concert settings. He began playing Balkan music in the mid-1970s after falling in love with the music while part of a dance group based in San Jose, California.
He began his teaching career giving lessons on tambura at the Mendocino Balkan Music & Dance workshops in 1982, and to date he has taught at many workshops around the country. Bill has been the music director of San Francisco-based WestWind International Folk Ensemble, AMAN International Dance Ensemble, Mendocino Folklore Camp, and the San Francisco Kolo Festival. He was the Administrative Director of the East European Folklife Center in the early `990s. He is currently the director of the San Francisco Kolo Festival. Over the past year he has ceased to work for technology companies and begun to focus on music. He has been rebuilding his family home in San Jose into a venue for house concerts and an Airbnb for traveling musicians and more than an occasional party!
Janie Cowan - Bass
Janie Cowan grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Aside from a strong technical foundation, flowing creativity, powerful presence and a deep feel of rhythm, Janie possesses the rare ability to adapt to any musical situation and bring an ensemble to a new cohesive level, on stage or in the studio.
Having lived and performed in Anchorage, Oberlin, Brooklyn, Austin, and throughout California, she is well-rooted in the diversity of music the United States has to offer and now spends time sharing and learning international folk traditions. She has immersed herself in and pursues the study of music from Ethiopia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, the Middle East, the Balkans and Sephardim.
Michael Lawson - Accordion
Michael Lawson grew up in a large extended family that featured song and dance at family gatherings. International folk dancing has been a large part of their family life. Michael began classical piano lessons at age 6 and trumpet at age 11. In high school, he played trumpet in a community jazz band. In college, he picked up his mother’s accordion and learned to play it for his folk dance club. He fell in love with the rhythms and harmonies of Balkan music, a genre he has played extensively over the last 40 years.
He directed the folk dance bands Nisava, Balkan Cabaret and Kafana Republik as an accordionist and vocalist, recording several CDs. He is always busy playing for folk dance parties, festivals, camps and weddings. Michael performed in the 2013 movie Tazi Baba (This Grandmother), which features Penka Encheva, a native Bulgarian singer. He arranged her songs for accordion and recorded them with her. In the summer of 2016, Michael accompanied the Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir on a Bulgarian tour which included a spot on Bulgarian national TV.
Recently, Michael launched a new jazz band, Dreams Come True, playing keyboard and performing repertoire from the swing era. In addition to playing with My Men and Yours, Michael will be leading the singing classes at Stockton Camp. He says, “I’ve always had the feeling that music is completely natural—that everybody can sing, that everyone can join in dancing—that these are natural, innate human abilities that help us to share the joy of life with each other.”