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Mainewoods Featured Guests for 2021


Ed Austin, Tom Bozigian, Penny Brichta, Joe Blumenthal, Bill Cope, Michael Ginsburg, Joe Graziosi, Ralph Iverson, Steve Kotansky, Barbara Pixton, Tom Pixton, Julia Poirier, David Vinski, Patricia Williams


Dance Leaders


Ed Austin Ed Austin (International) is a master teacher and cultural dance specialist. He radiates joy and excitement when he shares his explorations into music and dance from all parts of the world.  From 1985 to 2011 he served as the Artistic Director of the Brigham Young University International Folk Dance Ensemble.  More recently, he taught courses in dance ethnology/ethnochoreology until he retired as Professor Emeritus of Dance in 2018.  He has served two terms as president of the National Folk Organization of the United States (NFO).  His varied research interests have included Appalachian Dance, the Samoan Taualuga, and Welsh Dance.  He and his wife, Vickie, have only recently returned to the USA after volunteering as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in Serbia for 18 months.  This is Ed's first time at Mainewoods, and we're thrilled that he'll be joining us.


Tom Bozigian Tom Bozigian (Armenian) is a master teacher of authentic Armenian music and dance.  He was born in the USA to Armenian parents and grew up in the Armenian community in Fresno, California where he studied and experienced Armenian language, music, and dance from both Caucasian and Anatolian Armenians. Through the activities of many Armenian pan-patriotic organizations, immigrants maintained the many songs and dances representing their many regions. Tom frequented these affairs where he developed a life-long love of original Armenian song and dance. In addition to the dances of the pre-1915 period and the Caucasian Armenian dances, Tom specializes in the new Armenian folk dances and in choreography for stage presentation. He has set suites of Armenian dances for Budlet of Hong Kong, Aman of Los Angeles, Arax of Fresno, BYU of Utah, Tamburitzans of Pittsburg, and the International Folk Ensemble of Amsterdam. Also he visits Armenia annually and presents traditional Armenian regional dance to a variety of dance collectives (hamooitner). A professional precussionist of music of the Caucasus, Near East, and the Balkans, Tom mastered the very complicated rhythmic meters of these regions in which he has many years of experience. Tom leads a folklore orchestra that has produced numerous recordings which are available from your local folk dance recording outlet or directly from Tom himself. He continues his classical dance training and studies musical arrangement and harmony. Tom and his wife, Sheree King, also a dancer and choreographer, live in La Mirada, California. Southern California now has the largest concentration of Armenians reside outside of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.


Penny Brichta Penny Brichta (Israeli) has been an avid Israeli dancer since college, spending her junior year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem dancing far more than studying. She has attended dance workshops in the US and abroad learning from the top choreographers in Israeli dance. She performed with Nitzanim, Chicago's premier Israeli Folk Dance Troupe, for 20 years. More recently, Penny attended the Karmiel Dance festival and was thrilled to be selected to perform in the new dance competition. Penny has been teaching the beginner's session at the popular Chicago Israeli Dance group for 25 years.  She is a regular teacher at the Door County Folk Dance Festival and has taught Israeli dance at Madison Folk Ball and in Harrisburg, PA. Penny is a certified Jazzercise aerobic dance instructor and teaches several Jazzercise classes each week. She works full time in Human Resources.


Michael Ginsburg Michael Ginsburg (Balkan) has been teaching Balkan folk dance for over 50 years, starting in 1964 with Michael Herman's Folk Dance House in New York City. He continues to teach a weekly Balkan dance class in New York City. He is an expert in the complex rhythms of Balkan music and has made several research trips to Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, and studied in Macedonia with Pece Atanasovski. Michael has taught workshops all over North America, as well as in Brazil, Japan, Israel, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Michael has been on the teaching staff of many folk dance camps and seminars, including Stockton Folk Dance Camp, Kolo Festival in San Francisco, and the annual Macedonian Pearls Seminars in Berovo, North Macedonia. Also a musician, Michael has been director and lead trumpet player of Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band since 1983. He accompanied ZU to brass festivals in Guca, Serbia, three times between 1987 and 1990, as well as in 2003 and 2005, where he and ZU were able to play and party with local brass bands and experience the music in its natural setting. Michael is also lead trumpet player with Kavala Brass Band, which features brass music of Northern Greece as well as music from North Macedonia.  Michael has toured as a percussionist with Bulgarika, a Bulgarian band that specializes in traditional Bulgarian dance music, and plays tupan with the Bulgarian group "Cerven Traktor." This is Michael's first time at Mainewoods, and we're thrilled that he'll be joining us.


Joe Graziosi Joe Kaloyanides Graziosi (Greek), of Greek and Italian ancestry, grew up in the Boston area and graduated with a degree in History from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. With a mania for Greek music and dance from an early age, Joe has done extensive research on regional dance in Greece and among Greek communities in the U.S. He has taught throughout the world for community groups and at major folk dance camps, including the Balkan Music and Dance Workshops, since 1982. That same year Joe served as co-director of the Greek Music Tour, an NEA and Ethnic Folk Arts Center sponsored tour of well known Greek regional folk musicians, and served as co-editor and co-author of an accompanying booklet. He was a co-founder of New York's Greek American Folklore Society (GAFS) along with its director, Paul Ginis, where he taught throughout the decade of the 80s. Joe has taught and introduced people to Greek dance in Taiwan, Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and England, and has taught regularly in Japan since 1990 and will be returning there again in 2022. Joe has also given talks on traditional Greek music and dance for the ethnomusicology departments at UCLA and UCSB. He has served as judge and advisor for the west coast Greek Orthodox (San Francisco Metropolis) Folk Dance Festival (FDF) since 1984, and as well has just celebrated 20 years as judge and advisor for the Atlanta Metropolis' Hellenic Dance Festival (HDF). He is, along with Ahmet Luleci, co-founder of the annual World Music & Dance Camp, now in Iroquois Springs. He is also author of one chapter, “Turkish Music in the Greek American Experience,” in the recently published book “Greek Music in America,” U of Mississippi Press. Joe produces compilations of hard to find regional folk dance music. horoswithjoe@yahoo.com


Steve Kotansky Steve Kotansky (Balkan), known widely as a versatile dancer and teacher, has made many research trips to Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Greece, and Albania. He has taught at major folk dance camps all over North America and Europe and has performed and choreographed for many performing ensembles throughout the U.S. and Europe. Steve is active as a teacher and researcher of dance in North American, Albanian, and Macedonian Roma communities. He also conducts world dance programs for grades K-12 in New York-area public and private schools. Steve brings a lively, in-depth knowledge to his teaching, and an intense joy to his dancing.  We're hoping that Steve's wife Susy will also be able to join us this year.  Susan "Susy" Snyder-Kotansky studied ballet as a young child and has been dancing ever since. As a young adult she developed a passion for Hungarian dancing which led her to Hungary on many study and research expeditions.  Steve and Susy presently live in the New York City area. 


David Vinski David Vinski (Oldies by Request) has been dancing since 1958 when he first learned Malo kolo at Croatian Fraternal Union lodge 4 in Pittsburgh. This early interest in his heritage led to a scholarship with the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. Well known throughout the US and Canada for his master classes and workshops, David has been on the staff of International Folk Dance Camp, Kentucky Dance Institute, Oglebay Dance Camp, Pinewoods Dance Camp and Mainewoods Dance Camp. Currently, he is retired from Point Park University where he was Managing Director of the Pittsburgh Playhouse and taught Folk Dance in the Department of Dance for 40 years. Campers know they can count on David for a great variety of talents – among them breaking down the most intricate Serbian rhythms, calling a contra, and baking the most delicious breads!


Patricia Williams Patricia Williams (Scottish) has been teaching international folk dance at workshops, professional retreats, schools, dance festivals and other special events for over thirty years. Beginners find her instructions to be simple and clear, her enthusiasm infectious. Advanced dancers appreciate her attention to detail, styling, and the cultural context of dances. She has enjoyed Scottish Country Dancing since being introduced to it at Maine Folk Dance Camp back in 1980! She received her preliminary teacher certificate from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) in 2017 and now teaches regularly at the Northampton, MA, RSCDS class, as well as other venues throughout the year. Her current mission is to introduce more international folk dancers to the beauty and fun of Scottish Country Dancing!



Musicians


Joe Blumenthal Joe Blumenthal (International Folk Musician - West by Northeast) is a Northampton, MA, based musician who plays bass in a variety of bands including Klezamir (playing Jewish weddings and bar-mitzvahs as well as concerts since 1988), Orkestar Banitsa (a folk dance band playing music of the Balkans), and Zay-Tunes (playing traditional Arabic music) in addition to MerakKef Express. He was a frequent “ringer” for Bobba Culpa, playing upright bass and percussion.  He also leads AEIOUkes, Northampton MA's ukulele club. He recently retired from owning a musical instrument retail store, Downtown Sounds, in Northampton, MA


Bill Cope Bill Cope (International Folk Musician - West by Northeast ) is a California based multi-instrumentalist who began playing music at the age of six and to date has performed on 73 instruments.  He has made many trips to the Balkans and Turkey and has studied and performed with many wonderful musicians there as well as in the United States.  He has played international folk dance music for many years.  Bill is currently the director of the San Francisco Kolo Festival. During the pandemic he provided and helped others provide live music at countless online events.  Bill continues to lead weekly online zoom-shops in Balkan and Turkish music. Please see Cope-a-cabana.com for more info!  This is Bill's first time at Mainewoods, and we are thrilled he is able to join us.


Ralph Iverson Ralph Iverson (International Folk Musician - West by Northeast) is a talented musician who has been playing for the international folk dance community since 1985. He was the orchestra director of the Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble in Boston and was and is a member of many folk dance bands. He predominantly plays music from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and Romania, on a variety of classical and folk instruments including violin, flute, penny whistle, sax, gadulka, tambura, prim, and kaval. Ralph has been to Bulgaria and Macedonia over two dozen times, generally to perform or study gadulka and tambura.  Starting in 2011, he has entered his own compositions in a series of “New Bulgarian Music in 7/8” competitions in Bulgaria, regularly winning awards.  He has been a soloist with orchestra playing his Concerto for Gadulka: with the Refugee Orchestra Project in Boston and Brooklyn; with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra in Waltham, MA; and, with the World Civic Orchestra in Prague. Ask Ralph if he knows any jokes.  We promise that you will be entertained for hours.  Ralph lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.


Barbara Pixton Barbara Pixton (International Folk Musician - Pixton-Poirier Band) began playing her mother's button accordion at the age of eight. She moved on to the piano, obtaining a degree in piano performance from Boston University. A folk dancer for many years, in the early 1990's she and her husband Tom Pixton began playing for dances. Since then they have put together several bands, played at music festivals and dance camps all over the US, published a music book, and made several recordings. Barbara has picked up skills on many other instruments including double bass, santouri, guitar, flute, violin and panflute. In 1994 she started the International Music Club under the sponsorship of the Folk Arts Center of New England. She is known for her wonderful ability to pull together amateur musicians for music-making and merriment.


Tom Pixton Tom Pixton (International Folk Musician - Pixton-Poirier Band) is active as an International, Balkan, and Scottish folk dance musician. He has worked with many of today's most accomplished dance teachers and musicians as accordionist, pianist, band leader, music arranger, and CD producer. As a soloist or with the Pinewoods Band, he has provided dance music for dance camps, workshops, and special events in the US, Canada, and Japan. He has provided music leadership for the Boston Branch of the Royal Scottish Dance Society, Cambridge Revels, June Camp (Illinois), August Camp (New Mexico), and the Folk Arts Center of New England. Tom publishes the Pinewoods International Collection, a 400-page book of folk dance tunes and songs from around the world. The book has become widely known as a major source of dance music and as a reference volume.


Julia Poirier Julia Poirier (International Folk Musician - Pixton-Poirier Band) has been singing and playing in Boston-area choruses and folk dance bands for more than 30 years. During that time she has led numerous groups in singing a variety of music ranging from Christmas choral arrangements to folk dance songs to a cappella pop. In 2009, she completed an MA in Ethnomusicology, focusing on Bulgarian traditional song. Julia plays rhythm guitar for The Pinewoods Band and The All-Girl Band, two of Boston's many folk dance bands. She is a founding member of the old-time band Banjovillian, with whom she plays clawhammer banjo.