Dennis Boxell in 1996 Dennis Boxell (Fair Oaks, CA)
(916)-966-9012, dennisboxell@msn.com
Dennis Boxell is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota where, at the age of 15, in 1955, he first became acquainted with the music and dance of the South Slavs.  Under the encouragement of Lillian Kurkowsky of the St. Paul International Institute, he learned the dances of the Croatian and Serbian immigrants there.  Later, in 1961, he formed a performing group in South St. Paul with the children of these Slavic (mostly Serb) immigrants.  It was during his years in Minneapolis that Dennis first met the brilliant folk dance researcher and then choreographer of the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, Dick Crum.  Inspired by Mr. Crum, Dennis began to develop a professional and enthusiastic interest in Balkan Dance.

From 1958 to 1961, Dennis served in the U.S. Army Security Agency.  He was trained in the Czech language at the Army Language School in Monterey, California where he graduated first in his class with highest commendations.  From there he was sent to West Germany to monitor and translate radio transmissions from Czechoslovakia.  While in Germany, in 1960, he took his annual 30-day leave and through a stroke of luck and good timing, ended up traveling with the National Folk Ensemble of Yugoslavia, “Kolo iz Beograda”.  The dancers of “Kolo” accepted Dennis as their young American friend and shared with him many of their dances as he traveled with them from town to town.

Dennis then traveled to London, England to study with Phillip Thornton’s “Yugoslav Dance Club and Danny Lumbley’s “Bulgarian Dance Group”.  There he learned the original five dances that were to launch him on his career.  They were Bavno Oro, Ravno Oro, Tresenica, Sitno Zensko, and Belo Lence.

Returning from the Army, Dennis traveled West to study at the University of California, Berkeley, having finished his freshman year at the University of Minnesota.  En route to California, Dennis was “discovered” by John Filcich in the small town of Richland, Washington during their annual folk dance festival.  Mr. Filcich was the creator of the San Francisco “Kolo Festival” (Kolo means “dance” in Serbo-Croatian) and owner of the largest Balkan record and music shop in the U.S.  He brought Dennis to the Kolo Festival that fall, in November 1962, where Dennis presented the “original five dances” with great success and acclaim.

Dennis’ career was now launched in full swing.  He was asked to teach at Stockton Folk Dance Camp where he taught for five years in a row.  He was the first Balkan dance teacher to go on an extended national teaching tour, visiting dozens of cities throughout the country, presenting his five dances, including a new addition, “Šopsko Horo”.  Of the original “Five,” Bavno Oro is still a favorite everywhere.  Ravno, Šopsko and Tresenica are still danced here and there. Belo Len?e has been “resurrected” as “Iz Banju Ide” and is becoming a favorite as of this writing (winter, 2001).

In the fall of 1963, heeding the public’s clamor for more information about Balkan Dance, Dennis packed his suitcases and headed for the Balkans.  He did not return until he had: 1) Recorded over 150 dance tunes.  2) Visited and studied with eminent folklorists such as Ivan lvan?an of Croatia, Milica Illijin and Dobrivoje Putnik of Serbia, Pece Atanasovski and Vasil Hadjimanov of Macedonia, Kiril Dženev and Raina Katsarova of Bulgaria and Nana Stefanaki of Greece.  3) And had picked up a working knowledge of the Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian languages along the way.  These experts made it possible for Dennis to travel to remote regions, collecting and recording the numerous dances he was later to introduce to the folkdance world.

Alix Cordray (Oslo, Norway)
Alix Cordray is an American who has lived in Norway for almost all of her adult life, and teachs a selection of dances from Norway.  Alix teaches and leads several groups in the Oslo area.  She has brought a number of groups to the USA to teach and tour.  A few names of Alix's dances that folk dancers in the United States will recognize are Dobbel Reinlender, Krossadans med Seks, Oppdalsril, Over the Border Schottis, Sandsvaerril, and Wienerkryss frå Hardanger.

Ivan Dimitrov (Bethesda, MD)
(301)-404-4826, ivandance@hotmail.com
Ivan Dimitrov is a fun dynamic teacher for recreational dancing for beginners and advanced dancers alike. Ivan has lived in the U.S. since 1996, including 18 months in Chicago.  He leads a performing group in the D.C. area.  That has danced at the Kennedy Center Millenium stage, the World Bank, the Cherry Blossom festival, DC area folk dance festivals, at the tri-state parks and at the annual Heritage Festival in Philadelphia.  In Bulgaria, he
was a dancer with the Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble "Trakia" of Plovdiv.

Todor and Irina Gotchev (Des Plaines, Illinois)
(847)-297-9129, kapkag@yahoo.com
Todor and Irina Gotchev have lived in the Chicago area since moving to the U.S. in 1996.  Todor Gotchev specializes in the of the village of Kermen in eastern Thrace.  For many years he was a dancer, choreographer, and director with the Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble "Sliven".  Irina Gotcheva was soloist with the Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble "Sliven".  She is a graduate of the national choreographic school in Sofia as well as the Academy for Music and Dance Arts, Plovdiv and has done research on village dance in eastern Thrace.  Todor and Irina recently did a great job of teaching at the Balkanske Igre Spring Festival Weekend at International House in Chicago this March.   At the Spring Fling Workshops, Irina will be reviewing several of the dances sha and Todor introduced at the March Workshop.

Kete Ilievski (Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada)
(416)-626-3717, ilievski@interlog.com
Boris "Kete" Ilievski was born in Skopje, Macedonia where Folk dance and music was a family tradition.  His father, Ilija Ilievski, was co-founder of Macedonia's first village folk dance performing ensemble "Rastak", the first Macedonian professional choreographer, the artistic director of Ensemble "Koco Racin", and a musician of Radio Skopje.  Kete's first direct contact with folk dance was in an elementary school folk dance ensemble in Skopje.  In 1958, at the age of 14, Kete became a member of Ensemble "Koco Bacin" and by 1961 had become the dance leader of traditional Macedonian men's dances.  Between 1965 and 1984, he was the ensemble's choreographer and from 1973 through 1984 was its artistic director.  Since moving to Canada, Kete has been very active in teaching within the folk dancing communities of North America and Europe, including the Balkanske Igre Festival, FDCC's June Camp, the Kolo Festival, Balkanalia, Ramblewood and Medocino.  He has also has prepared choreographies for many groups in the Macedonian communities of North America including those in Columbus, Detroit, Syracuse, Toronto and Windsor.  Between 1986 and 1991, he was co-organizer of the Seminar for Macedonian Folklore at Struga, Macedonia.  Kete has also given academic lectures and presentations on Macedonian folklore throughout Europe and North America. He has received numerous awards including "Best Individual Dancer" from the Cultural and Educational Society of Macedonia and "Best Choreography" at competitions in Sarajevo and Belgrade.  Kete currently resides in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada (a Toronto suburb) and is president of CAMA Trade International, a company that specializes in the import/export of fashion products.  Kete also spent 11 years as a professional soccer player and 1 year as a soccer coach in Yugoslavia.

Nikola Krcadinac
Nikola Krcadinac (Hinsdale, Illinois)
(630)-789-4496, krcadinac@yahoo.com
Nikola Krcadinac, originally from Pancevo, Serbia, began a folklore career in 1972 with his town’s local group “Stanko Paunovic, Železnicar”.  He then took the opportunity to dance with KUD “Abraševic” under Serbia’s pioneering choreographic Dobrivoje Putnik, where he continued for eleven years.  In 1984, Nikola joined the Sonja Marinkovic Academic Ensemble in Novi Sad under the capable direction of Milan Ognjanovic and Milorad Lonic - Lonce.  He has performed in Europe, Asia Minor and Africa.  Coming to America in 1991, he began teaching at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church (Palmer Square) in Chicago, and was director of folklore there for ten years.  He has also taught at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (Redwood Drive) also in Chicago.  He is an inspiring, demanding director whose students learn to improve their dance ability and to enrich their appreciation of Serbian heritage.  Currently, Nikola teaches two youth groups at St. Basil of Ostrog Serbian Orthodox Church in Lake Forest, Illinois in addition to “Sloboda” (adults) in Chicago.  He lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife, Christine, his mother, Vukica and his two children, Dušan and Jovan.

Bob Leibman (Austin, TX)
(512)-420-0218, bleibman@io.com
Bob Leibman has been interested in ethnic dance since 1961, when began dancing as a junior at University of Chicago.   He was born and raised on near and far west side of the city.  He moved to St. Louis where he got MA in Math.  He continued to dance and founded a dance group at Washington U.  He then moved to Boston where he was co-leader of the MIT Folk Dance group (1965-1969) and also was the first director of the Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble that continues on to the present.

Bob traveled to Yugoslavia in the summers of 1965, 1967, 1968, 1972, and 1973.  He was there for a full year on a Fulbright scholarship during 1970-71.  He studied wedding customs, translated many articles and attended and filmed a number of weddings - in particular, in s. Peshtani on Lake Ohrid where he had attended weddings in 1965 and 1968.  He also traveled through East Serbia and South Serbia with his first wife who was writing a dissertation in Slavic Lingusitics on the Torlak dialects. Here, he attended weddings in Halovo area and in Pirot area.

He also did a lot of filming and recording of music during these trips. He attended the Ivancan's seminars in 1967 (Pula) and 1968 (Badija) where the teachers included Ivancan, Dopudja (Bosnia), Desa Djordevic (Serbia) among others.  He also attended a folklore seminar at Ramovsh (Slovenia) and the seminar on Macedonian dance put on by Pece Atanasovski and Zhivko Firfov at Oteshevo (L. Prespa) in 1971 and 1972.  He wrote the booklet of dance notes for Pece's first US tour and has taught many of those dances around the U.S.

Bob devoted a good portion of his trip of the summer of 1972 to recording music of good sound quality and subsequently released an LP/CD with dances and songs from the Soko Banja area, including Rumenka, Osamputka, Sokec, Stara Vlajna and Ostraljanka.  He also taped and filmed dancing at weddings among Tosk Albanians in s. Krani on Lake Prespa.   He issued an LP/CD of music from there and taught dances from this area, including Devolliçe, Beraçe, Nesho and Grchkoto.   Bob did some of this research with Steve Kotansky and they recorded music and filmed dancing among Serbs in S. Koretishte, Gnjilane.  He has yet to issue the music from these sessions (zurles) and has taught few of these dances with the exception of Memedo.

Since the middle 1970s, Bob earned an MA in Folklore from UCLA where he focused on dance and the Balkans.  Bob later received a Ph D in Folklore from University of Pennsylvania in 1993 - although he did most of his work in late 70's.  He wrote his dissertation on the structure of dance in the Balkans - a semi-mathematical analysis, describing dance families - thus combining his knowledge and love of both mathematics and folklore.

Bob did a lot of dance teaching in the early 70's, and toured around the U.S. in mid-70s.   He has taught several times in Chicago and at the Bay Area's Kolo Festival, and was brought to Seattle by Dennis Boxell to teach his group in mid 70's, etc. He has taught much less in the 80s and 90s since getting married again, running a math department at the University of Texas at Austin, writing a book, etc.  But he's getting the itch to teach again and hopefully will release some more of the music he recorded.

Orkestar Balkanci - Ethnic Dance ChicagoOrchestra Balkanci (Chicago, IL)
Angel Dobrev, (773)-865-5118, angelart_bg@yahoo.com
Orchestra Balkanci, a traditional Bitov ensemble,  has played for Ethnic Dance Chicago's Spring Fling and Fall Ball Festivals, at the Madison Folk Ball Festival and at Balkanske Igre's Spring Festivals at the University of Chicago.  Rumen Apostolov (tambura/tarambuka/tupan) was born in Blagoevgrad. Coming from a musical family (both his grandfather and father played tambura), he started to play at the age of seven. He graduated from the Music School for Folklore in Kotel and from the Academy for Music and Dance Arts in Plovdiv. He has performed in Greece, Macedonia, Moldavia, Germany, Canada and the U.S.  Angel Dobrev (gadulka) was born in Omurtag and started playing gadulka at the age of eight. He is a graduate of the Music School for Folklore in Kotel and was a soloist with the orchestra of the Academy of Music and Dance Arts in Plovdiv. He won 1st prize once and 2nd prize twice in the national competition for gadulka players in Galabovo. He has performed with many groups in many different countries including Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Italy, Moldavia, Hungary and the U.S.  Konstantin Marinov (tupan) is a graduate of the choreographic school in Sofia and performed with with the Bulgaria National Folk Ensemble 'Zagore" in Stara Zagora and with "Slunchev Briag" and directed the national youth ensemble "Zagorche".  Petko Stojanov (bag-pipe, gajda) was born in Yambol.  He started playing gajda at the age of 6.  His first gajda-teacher was the famous gajda-player Yanko Komitov.  Petko attended the Kotel Music School for folklore instruments and after graduating began to perform with the famous Bulgarian singer Danislav Kehayov and the ensemble "Slanchev Briag" (Sunny Beach).  Petko has performed in many countries including Greece, Russia, Belgium, France, Sweden, Canada, U.S.A and others...

Orchestra Izgrev (Chicago, IL)
Velizar Shumanov: (630) 993-1522, nufolk@nufolk.com
Orchestra Izgrev, which means “Sunrise”, was founded in 1998 in Chicago and is the only Bulgarian wedding band in the Midwest comprised of native Bulgarians.  Every member of the group is an accomplished musician and, together, they are eager to share with Americans and Bulgarians the vibrant musical colors of traditional Bulgarian wedding and folk-pop music.   Featuring:  Malina Grozdanova “Mali” - vocals, Marin Hristov - trumpet, vocals, Stefan Yordanov - alto, midi sax, vocals, Velizar Shumanov “Villie”  - midi accordion.  Special Thanks to Rumiana  Shumanov, George Petrov, and Ivan Petrov  for helping with this project, and to Theodosii Spassov for the inspiration he has giving us as well as for conferring upon our orchestra the name of “Izgrev”.

Sloboda Serbian Folklore Group - Chicago
Sloboda Serbian Folklore Group (Chicago, IL)
Nikola Krcadinac: (630)-789-4496, krcadinac@yahoo.com
Sloboda, a Chicago-based performing troupe, under the Serbian National Defense Council of America (SND) was formed in March 2000.  The troupe is composed entirely of adults, and has grown to 30 dancers in less than two years.  Some of the dancers were born in Serbia and some in America.  Growing up in the Serbian Orthodox Church community most members started dancing as children.  They meet twice a week to dance, socialize and keep the traditions of Serbia flourishing in the United States.   They first performed in October 2000 for the Midwest Convention of SND in Warren, Michigan and since then have been much in demand.  In May 2001 they celebrated their 1st anniversary with a Folklore Festival at Monastery “Gracanica” in Grayslake, Illinois.  The troupe is directed by Mr. Nikola Krcadinac, who emigrated from Serbia to America in 1991 after twenty years of dance experience.  Although the dancers share a common love of Serbian tradition, they lead a variety of individual lives. Among the troupe members are a pharmacist, a dental hygienist, teachers and professional secretaries.  Most are parents, some even grandparents.  The troupe began its repertoire with two suites from central Serbia, featuring “Koso Moja”, “Bela Rada” and “Cacak” as well as the universal favorite “Moravac”.  A suite of dances from Macva (NW Serbia) has recently been added and plans are underway to study Vlach dances (NE Serbia) and dances from near Leskovac (SE Serbia).  The adult strength and style of this ensemble, and their director’s tasteful use of authentic material are earning the praise of folklorists, the applause of audiences, and the welcome of the community.

Ventzi Sotirov (Elmhurst, IL)
(630)-833-6544, zoya.sotirova@spartech.com
Ventzi Sotirov is a native of Sandanski and a graduate of the Institute of Choreography in Sofia, Bulgaria.  He has been dancing since the age of 7 when he was a member of a Sandanski children's ensemble.  For 11 years, he danced with the "Pirin National Ensemble".  Ventzi was voted "No. 1 ethnic Dancer" for 4 years in national competitions of professional dancers in Bulgaria.  Ventzi also taught Bulgarian dancing for children and arranged choreography for amateurs aspiring to enter choreography institutes.  Ventzi presents exciting dances from all 6 ethnographic regions of Bulgaria: Shope, Thrace, Rhodope, North Bulgaria, Dobrudja, and his native Pirin (Macedonia) while spicing  big doses of humor into his teaching.  He plays tupan and tarambuka and has taught workshops in these instruments.  Since moving to the Chicago area in 1991, Ventzi has taught at many groups, workshops and camps including: Ethnic Dance Chicago, Door County Folk Festival, Balkanske Igre's Reunion Festival, Madison Folk Ball, Santa Barbara's ethnic Music and Dance Symposium, Illini Folk Dance Weekend, and Buffalo Gap Music and Dance Camp.  He has also taught workshops in Japan and Europe.

Zoya Sotirova (Elmhurst, IL)
(630)-833-6544, zoya.sotirova@spartech.com
Zoya Sotirova is a native of Strumesnica, Bulgaria and has been singing since she was a child.  She first learned Bulgarian folk songs from her mother.  For 13 years, Zoya was a singer with the choir of the "Pirin National Ensemble".  Zoya was also a featured soloist on Radio Sofia and "Pirin National Ensemble" recordings.  Her lovely soprano voice, her professional experience and her ability to master all of the Bulgarian vocal styles led to her selection as a soloist for a special "Nostalgia" program on Bulgarian National Television.   While Zoya sings and teaches songs from all 6 ethnographic regions of Bulgaria:  Shope, Thrace, Rhodope, North Bulgaria, Dobrudja, and her native Pirin (Macedonia), she is a specialist of the Macedonian style, with its intricate ornamentations.  Zoya's classes begin with warm-up exercises for the voice and stretches.  She gives historical background for and translations of the songs she teaches and performs.  Since arriving in the United States in 1993, Zoya's engagements have included: Old Town School of Folk Music (Faculty), St. Louis Folk Dance Weekend, Balkanske Igre Reunion Festival, Madison Folk Ball, Polish Highlanders Festival and various World Cup functions and at Taste of Romania.  In addition to her vocal talents, Zoya also is an experienced seamstress and costume designer.

Tri Bratovchedki (Madison, WI & St Paul, MN)
Nancy Yugo: (608)-241-3655, mk@mailbag.com
Tri Bratovchedki (Three Cousins - Nancy Yugo, Debbie Kmetz, Dan Garvin) specialize in Eastern European village music.  They have performed and given workshops at the Door County Folk Festival, The Madison Folk Ball Festival and other venues in the Midwest.  The trio’s singing is characterized by dissonant harmonies and complex rhythms. Themes of love, grief, national pride, folk tales, legends, and deep religious faith give this music an energetic and intense quality.  The trio's current repertoire includes Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, and Ukrainian songs.

Mazurka Wojciechowska and Marc Smierciak (Chicago, IL)
Marc Smierciak: (773)-544-7707, msmier1@uic.edu
Mazurka Wojciechowska, vocalist, dulcimist and accordionist, graduated cum laude from the American Conservatory of Music with a degree in vocal performance. She has sung with The Lira Ensemble, a professional arts organization promoting Polish song, music and dance, and is now one of its staff arrangers and their Children’s Choir accompanist. She is also co-artistic director of the Slavic Projection Folk Ensemble, a group dedicated to the performance and preservation of the folk music of many Slavic nations.

Marc Smierciak, clarinetist, vocalist and accordionist, was born in Chicago to European parents. Coming from a multicultural background, he had been exposed to many European cultural traditions since early childhood. He studied music at the American Conservatory of Music and received degrees in music, French and linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is also composes chamber music, performs regularly with Slavic Projection Folk Ensemble, and jazz music with his brother, Yves Francois.

Mazurka and Marc, the founders of Most, have always had a passion for the cultural traditions of central and east Europe. It was no surprise that in the spring of 1999, this shared passion and their musical talent came together to form Most.  In just six months, Most had built a repertoire of over 300 songs and dances from over 15 countries. Through the ensemble’s tireless research, its repertoire continues to expand rapidly.  The ensemble Most chose this name because the word "most" translates to "bridge" in every Slavic language: a fitting name for a group that "bridges" cultures through its music. Most performs music from the following Slavic cultures; Belarus, Bohemia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lusatia, Macedonia, Moravia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. They also perform music from other central and east European cultures such as Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Romania among others. And, of course, the list will continue to grow!

Yale Women's Slavic Chorus (New Haven, CT)
Meg Reuland: (203)-776-4381, margaret.reuland@yale.edu
Founded in 1969, the Yale Slavic Chorus is an a cappella chorus composed of women from the Yale University and New Haven communities. It performs a wide range of Eastern European folk songs in many different languages and styles. The repertoire of lyrical songs borrowed from authentic Slavic choruses tells of love, work, war, country life, and sorrow. In its performances, the chorus strives to maintain the tradition of dissonant harmonies, unusual rhythms, and distinctive vocal qualities which make Slavic music unique and exciting for so many listeners.

Ljupco Milenkovski - Chicagoland Spring Fling
Ljupco Milenkovski (Merrillville, IN)

Ljupco Milenkovski originally from Dracevo, Macedonia, moved to the U.S. in 1985.  He made and learned to play his first wooden flute at the age of 10 years old.  By the time he was 14, he had started playing kaval (open-ended flute) with the famed Macedonian musician, Mile Kolarov.  About two years after he started playing kaval, he also started learning to play the Gajda (bagpipe) from his father, Andreja Milenkovski.  Between 1977 and 1985, Ljupco played traditional Macedonian dance music with Mile and other musicians for the "Kitke" Dance Ensemble in Dracevo.  In recent years, Ljupco has taught himself to play the clarinet and saxaphone.  He plays some of the more Macedonian and Southeastern European music with several ensembles in the Chicagoland & Northern Indiana areas including his own ensemble, "Sar Planina".  Ljupco lives with his wife Linda and their two children, Andres and Dionaa in Merrillville, Indiana.

"Yuli" Yordanov - DCFF 2003 Yuliyan Yordanov (Madison, WI)
(608) 334-9495, yyusa02@yahoo.com
Yuliyan Yordanov is originally from Lovech, Bulgaria. "Yuli" graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  His training qualified him as a dance director, choreographer, and Bulgarian folk dance instructor.  Prior to graduation, he worked as a choreographer, teacher, and coach for youth dance groups and ensembles in the city of Lovech, Bulgaria.  Yuli and his students participated in many concerts, celebrations, and international festivals throughout Bulgaria and the rest of Europe.  In May 1995, Yuli and his group were selected to appear on a Bulgarian Television program celebrating folklore and traditional culture. In 1997 he was invited to attend the traditional annual party for teachers of folklore and culture hosted by the President of Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov.