STOCKTON FOLK DANCE CAMP
2018 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 and music DJ rotation at Cafe Simcha, a weekly Israeli dance session held near Berkeley. He also sporadically substitutes for Loui Tucker and Karina Lambert at the larger South Bay Israeli dance sessions.
In October 2012, Aaron founded his own dance session, Nirkoda! ("Let's dance!"). 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. Aaron’s first appearance as a staff member at a dance camp was Camp Rikud in 2016. A few months later, Aaron hosted a workshop, Nirkoda Mi'Nona, featuring Nona Malki, an Israeli dance choreographer and teacher from Vancouver. His next venture, Nirkoda Ba'Kerem, is a weekend-long Israeli dance camp in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, that will include wine-tasting and a guest choreographer, Yaron Malichi, flying in from Israel.
DANCES FROM THE BALKANS
Caspar Bik was born in 1990 in the Netherlands. He was an active dancer from a young age in groups that presented Dutch dances as well as groups that showed international dances.
Caspar graduated in 2013 as a dance teacher at the dance academy Codarts in Rotterdam. Besides folk dancing, Caspar has experience in modern/contemporary dance, classical ballet, jazz dance, ballroom, and tap dance.
Since his graduation he has been teaching different dance styles to children, teenagers, and adults at amateur and professional levels. In 2014, he founded a youth school for theater arts which performs a stage musical every year for which Caspar creates the choreography. Both as a folk dance instructor and as a choreographer he has taught courses in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.
Caspar has been specializing in folk dances from countries around the Black Sea. His most recent research was in Georgia, where he trained with the professional ensemble Erisioni and traveled through the country to experience the variety and beauty of Georgian dance, song and music. This will be his second year at Stockton Folk Dance Camp.
Cristian Florescu & Sonia Dion
ROMANIAN PARTNER DANCES
Sonia Dion and Cristian Florescu are known for their vibrant energy, warmth and exciting choice of dances and music.
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. He was principal dancer with the national ensemble Cununa Carpatilor. In 1990-91, he received his certificate as a recognized solo dancer and choreographer in the field of folklore from the Romanian Ministry of Culture. In 1993, he joined Les Sortilèges, a professional folk dance company based in Montreal, Canada, where he danced, taught, and choreographed. During his time in Canada, Cristian has 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, Canada's oldest professional folk dance ensemble, with whom she developed several new 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 Cristian and Sonia met and formed a professional and personal partnership. They have taught at l’École Supérieure de Danse du Québec and been part of the Artists in the Schools program, sponsored by the Quebec Ministry of Education.
In recent years, Cristian and Sonia have developed a specific interest in working with recreational folk dance groups. They’ve been teaching in Brazil, Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia to share their love of Romanian folk traditions. They have taught workshops in Canada and the United States and choreographed Romanian suites for performing groups, including the world-renowned BYU Folk Dance Ensemble in Utah. This will be Cristian and Sonia's eighth appearance at Stockton. Their fifth, in 2010, featured their wedding as part of Camp.
Roo Lester was born in California and began folk dancing in grade school as a rainy-day physical education activity. Roo was introduced to Scandinavian dance at the San Diego Folk Dance Conference one year by Ingvar and Jofrid Sodal. That exposure instilled in her a love of Scandinavia and she soon began teaching it.
Since 1983, Roo has traveled extensively in Norway and Sweden studying dance. She has been the American coordinator for several dance and music camps in Scandinavia. She is a dance educator and ethnologist living in the southwestern suburbs of the Chicago metropolitan area, including classes for children and elderhostel participants. She teaches Scandinavian turning dance, international folk dance, folk crafts, culture workshops, costumes workshops, teaching techniques and more.
Roo lives in Woodridge, Illinois.
Kay Munn grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, where she was introduced to Scottish Country Dancing in school. In 1986, she crossed the Atlantic and lived briefly in Canada, South Carolina and New York.
In preparation for a Burns Night celebration, she told some friends that if they could find the music to Scotland the Brave, she would teach them a Scottish dance. The music was provided and they danced the Gay Gordons! This led to her re-entry into the world of dance, and she enjoyed classes with renowned deviser Terry Glasspool.
Returning to Canada in 2001, Kay was immediately adopted by the local Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) Kingston, Ontario, Branch, and she was encouraged to pursue a Teaching Certificate. With Branch support and an RSCDS scholarship, she obtained her certificate in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Kay has taught at Pinewoods Scottish sessions and has been a frequent teacher at Mainewoods Dance Camp. She teaches classes and workshops at all levels in the local area. The dance The Flower of Glasgow was written for Kay and recently published by the RSCDS – a huge honor. A proud Scot, Kay is comfortable baking shortbread, knitting kilt hose, addressing the haggis, or savoring a dram, but she has little time for much of this, because she’s usually dancing!
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, but 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.
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 the 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.
Rebecca Tsai grew up in Keelung, Taiwan, a port city in northern Taiwan. Rebecca was first introduced to Chinese folk music and dances while in elementary school, and began performing folk dances at the age of 10. Her first exposure to international folk dance was during her college years in the 1980s. She had many opportunities to perform and she became a lead dancer in an inter-college dance company that was organized, managed, and performed in exclusively by college students, a first during that time.
Rebecca had to suspend her dance interest temporarily until early 2000 to raise her family. She was reunited with her old dance friends during a memorial event in 2005 when her interest in folk dance was reignited. Since then she has participated in various dance camps in the United States, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia.
She became attracted to revitalized Chinese traditional dances, especially those from minority groups such as Mongolia, Tibet, Xien-Jiang; as well as in the Dai, Yii, and Miao provinces in southwest China. She traveled to China to gain firsthand experiences in those dances. Besides traditional Chinese dances, she also joined a Hawaiian hula company as well as participating in a Bollywood dance company. Rebecca was a principle organizer/manager of a dance group in Taipei, Taiwan. Besides her own group, she was very active in folk dance-related activities in Taiwan.
She moved to California in 2013, which gave her opportunities to connect with master international folk dance teachers and introduce them to folk dance camp organizers in Taiwan. Through her connections, Lilian Vlandi, Miroslav “Bata” Marčetić, and Genci Kastrati were invited to teach in Taiwan. In recent years she became a popular guest teacher at dance groups in California and was invited to become DJ and resident teacher of a well-established folk dance group in Silicon Valley. In 2015 she joined Yao Yong Dance Company, a very well-known Chinese traditional dance group in the San Jose area.
UPDATE: Joe Graziosi NOT ABLE TO ATTEND
We received news in late May that Joe Graziosi's recovery from knee surgery this spring was not going as well as planned, and Joe felt he needed to be released from his faculty position at Stockton Folk Dance Camp this July. He hopes to be included in the staff for the 2019 Camp.
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 Arcuși 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 Białystocki Teatr Lalek (Białystok’s enormously popular puppet theater) production Czarne Ptacki Białegostoku (The Black Birds of Białystok).
Bill Cope –(Many, 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.”