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Mainewoods Featured Guests for 2020


Roberto Bagnoli, Penny Brichta, Joe Blumenthal, Kitty Kagay, Ercument Kilic,Karen Klevanosky, Barb MacLean, Vlasto Petkovski, Barbara Pixton, Tom Pixton, Julia Poirier, Paty Rios, Bob Schulz, Debby Szajnberg, Nikolay Tsvetkov, Patricia Williams


Dance Leaders


Roberto Bagnoli Roberto Bagnoli (International) grew up in Rome, where he was first introduced to folk music and dance, eventually taking part in several performances and teaching dance classes. He subsequently studied various forms of folk dance in workshops throughout Europe, Israel, and North America under the guidance of renowned choreographers and teachers. From 1995 to 2003, he performed as a dancer and choreographer with the Terra di Danza Dance Company and was involved in the production of Raggi di luna Italiana and Capriccio Italiano (Italian dances), GiroGiroMondo (dances from around the world), Keltic Emotion (Celtic dances), Mazal Tov (Israeli dances), and Ethnos (international folk dances). He currently organizes two dance camps in Europe: Balkanot (Balkan and Israeli dance) and Camp Yofi (Israeli dance). He is the founder of Folk Atelier Reggio Emilia (FARE), devoted to the development and conservation of folk dance heritage. He has also lectured and conducted workshops throughout Europe as well as on numerous occasions in North America, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Roberto lives in Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy, which is considered to have one of the most important dance communities in Italy. Dances Roberto has taught include Ballo in Dodici, Courento, Do Pasi, Gigo, Mazurka sor Cesare, Muneco, Passu Torrau, Saltarello, Sbrando, Su Ballitu, and Su Dillo.


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.


Ercüment Kiliç Ercüment Kiliç (Turkish, Azebaijani and Circassian) was born in Ankara, Turkey, and comes from a family of dancers and musicians. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Economics and International Relations. He is one of the founding members of the Turkish State National Dance Ensemble and also specializes in Turkish, Azerbaijani and Circassian dances. He has taught in the US, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, the Russian Republic, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. As a musician, Ercüment has produced a series of records and CDs in the US with his band. As a researcher, his research papers and articles on the Turkish, Azerbaijani and Circassian cultures have been published in many international newspapers and periodicals, and he has been featured in more than 100 TV shows and radio programs around the world. Ercüment has also been a civic activist. Due to his nationwide recognition as president of a Washington-based NGO for promoting Turkey politically and culturally, he is the only non-governmental Turk or Turkish-American in US history to be invited to the White House by a US President. Currently, he is a lecturer at a university in Turkey, teaching in the International Relations and Law Departments. He is also a published author in Turkey. He has written 3 books on Turkish-American relations, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Emperor Meiji of Japan.


Vlasto Petkovski Vlasto Petkovski (Macedonian) was born on July 29th, 1957 in Romanovce, Kumanovo, Republic of Macedonia. In 1977, Vlasto auditioned for “Tanec,” and was hired to work as a professional folk dancer and singer. Vlasto worked in Tanec until 1995, when he emigrated to Canada. In May 1996, he restarted the Macedonian folk dance group “Ilinden” from Mississauga, ON. Vlasto also taught at St. Bogorodica in Cambridge, ON, and “Tanec” and “Vezilka” from St. Nedela in Ajax, ON. Since November 2014, Vlasto manages the adult folk dance group “Zdravec” in Markham, ON. In November 2014, Vlasto joined the international folk dance groups for adults in Hamilton, Toronto, and King City, ON. Vlasto has been a featured guest at Mainewoods International Folk Dance Camp, Stockton International Folk Dance Camp, and Florida Folk Dance Club in Orlando. In November 2019, Vlasto will hold a workshop at the Hamilton International Folk Dance Club, and in 2020 at the Waterloo International Folk Dance Camp. Vlasto is the director of Sunstage Company. He has organized folk tours to Macedonia in 2018 and Bulgaria in 2019. He is organizing a third tour to Macedonia, Albania and Greece in 2020. Vlasto continues to represent the Macedonian folklore and culture.


Paty Rios Paty Rios (Mexican) Paty Rios is a native Mexican whose life mission is to study, teach, and preserve the traditional dances of her country. Paty focuses on authentic dances of ordinary people, some of which are still being done today. Paty has 20 years of dance experience. She trained with the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez and toured, performed, choreographed, and taught stage dances for many years. She has recently introduced Mexican dancing to the World Movement of Circle Dancing and has taught at international festivals in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Paty deeply loves Mexico and is thrilled to share its unique culture with the world. She has a bachelor's degree in tourism with a focus on Mexico, and a master's degree in social responsibility. Don't miss Paty's debut in the United States.


Nikolay Tsvetkov Nikolay Tsvetkov (Bulgarian) Nikolay Tsvetkov was born in Petrich, in the Pirin region of Bulgaria. At age 4, he began his studies at the Bulgarian Choreographic School in Sofia as a student of the well-known Krasimir Petrov. After graduating with honors in 1979, Nikolay toured with the Bulgarian National Opera for two years. Nikolay studied at the Bulgarian National Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv from 1981 to 1985. After finishing his studies, he performed with the State Folk Ensemble Trakia in Plovdiv from 1985 to 1989 and with the Pirin State Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances from 1985 to 1996 where he also served as choreographer and rehearsal master. He performed as a soloist and created numerous choreographies, some of which remain part of the company's basic repertoire. In 1996 Nikolay became a Professor of Dance and Chair of the Choreography Department at South-West University Neofit Rilski in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, where he has taught dance composition, Bulgarian folk dance, and teaching methods. He is an internationally known folklorist and dance pedagogue and is an international authority on dance and folklore of Pirin, Macedonia. In recent years he has also performed with Bulgarie, a company of fifty ensemble dancers and thirty soloists performing as actors, stuntmen, ballet dancers, singers, and musicians. Created in 2003, the dance spectacle is one of Bulgaria's contemporary grand folklore projects. In addition to his work in Bulgaria, Nikolay has taught and presented at dance seminars in Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Holland, Israel, Japan, Sweden, the United States, and across Western Europe.


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 became a Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) certified teacher 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 - MerakKef Express) 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


Kitty Kagay Kitty Kagay (International Folk Musician - MerakKef Express) has been actively involved in the folk dance community since 1975 as an international folk dancer and musician. She danced with the George Tomov Yugoslav Ensemble from 1977-1979. She was a founding member of the bitov group Nezabravka, brass group The Hačeks, and IFD dance band Bobba Culpa, primarily singing Balkan music. She currently performs with MerakKef Express. Her other vocal pursuits include Sacred Harp singing, with occasional forays into Scandinavian and Chinese singing.


Karen Klevanosky Karen Klevanosky (International Folk Musician - MerakKef Express) is a classically trained musician who has been playing flute for more than a half century, performing solo and chamber music in the Northeast and in France.  She crossed over to the Balkan side in the mid-1990s when she joined the Bobba Culpa international folk dance band and began attending Balkan music and dance camps.  Since then she has played various woodwind (flute, piccolo, clarinet, kaval) and percussion instruments and sung with Bobba Culpa, and now with MerakKef Express.  "kk" also sings in her synagogue choir and serves as a cantorial soloist.


Barb MacLean Barb MacLean (International Folk Musician - MerakKef Express) began folk dancing as a child and has played in folk dance bands since 1986.  Those included Terpsichore, Nezabravka, and she was music director and a founding member of Bobba Culpa and The Hačeks.  She currently directs, plays clarinet, tambura and percussion and sings in MerakKef Express.  She has taught folk dancing, singing and Balkan rhythms at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga, NY, at music therapy conferences and at her local dance group in Schenectady, NY.  She currently sings with Albany Pro Musica Masterworks, and has sung in and conducted numerous choirs, and played in community bands and recorder ensembles.  She is a retired music therapist, having spent most of her career serving veterans.  Besides music, Barb's passions include traveling (including dance seminars in Romania, Greece and Turkey), photography, natural horsemanship and gardening. 


Barbara Pixton Barbara Pixton (International Folk Musician) 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) 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) has been singing and playing in Boston-area choruses and folk dance bands for more than 20 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 also plays recorders and tenor viol, and sings with the Tufts Early Music Ensemble.


Bob Schulz Bob Schulz (International Folk Musician - MerakKef Express) began playing electric guitar in 1965. After performing rock, jazz and folk guitar, Bob turned his sights on International folkdance music about 25 years ago. (He has been a dancer for many years and has taught folk dancing as leader of the Tri-City Folk Dancers in New York State's capital region and at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs, NY.) He has learned many Balkan styles and instruments by annual attendance at the EEFC's East Coast Balkan Music and Dance Camp. Bob has also played Early Music with the recorder consort Lycaeides. Surprisingly, he is not a founding member of the band that bears his name, but after joining the group he quickly caused so much mayhem that the band was retroactively dubbed Bobba Culpa. Bob has produced several CDs, including "Sundian subVersions: Far-Fetched Facsimiles oF Folkdance Favorites", "Balkan Beat" by Planeta Synteza (rock music with Balkan rhythms), and two CDs by Bobba Culpa: "Culpability" and "Culpability 2: Bobba's Revenge!"


Debby Szajnberg Debby Szajnberg (International Folk Musician - MerakKef Express) has been folk dancing since childhood and performing world dance and music since her early adult years, especially from Balkan and Eastern European folk traditions. These include dancing, singing, and playing with Balkanske Igre and International Dancers in Chicago, and George Tomov's Yugoslav Ensemble in NYC. She also played and sang in A Different Village, Hijaz, and Yia Mas instrumental ensembles in Hartford, CT. She is a regular participant at the East European Folklife Center's annual Balkan Music/Dance workshop as well as folk dance seminars abroad. A retired kindergarten and music teacher, she has presented national and regional workshops on creative and folk dance to music educators. She leads community dances at local schools and libraries and is a frequent teacher at Always on Sunday International Folk Dancers in Wethersfield, CT. She sings, plays violin, doumbek, tupan and other hand percussion. One of her current projects is collecting, transcribing and teaching children's clapping and rhythm games from around the world.