Maria Bebelekova Sonia Dion/Cristian Florescu Evren Soytopcu Kıyak & Ahmet Lüleci Steve Kotansky Michael Ginsburg Michele Simon

Maria Bebelekova

Bulgarian Singing

Maria Bebelekova from the Bulgarian Rhodope town of Shiroka Luka, learned singing from her mother and grandmother. She studied at the Shiroka Luka Folk Music School and the Plovdiv Conservatory, then returned to her hometown, where she taught at the music school for 15 years. She sang with the Bulgarian women’s choir Angelite for three seasons, and has performed and recorded regularly with other ensembles. Maria teaches kindergarten and singing for adults and children at the Khan Asparuh Bulgarian School in Sunnyvale, CA, and gives private singing lessons in the San Jose, CA area.
Tips and Donations
Venmo to Maria-Bebelekova

or Zele to 408-807-0741

Sonia Dion and Cristian Florescu

Romanian Dance

Sonia Dion and Cristian Florescu (soniacristian.net) 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. Cristian 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 and the ACAFR. In 1993, he joined Les Sortilèges, a professional folk dance company based in Montreal Canada, where he has 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 the two met and formed a professional and personal partnership. They have taught at l'École supérieure de danse du Québec, and have 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 and the United States, Europe (Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands), Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan) 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. Email them to purchase music for their dances: sonia_dion@hotmail.com

Evren Soytopcu Kıyak & Ahmet Lüleci

Turkish Dance

Evren started dancing in elementary school in Ankara, where her group won the first prize in a national folk dance competition. As a teenager she joined Hoytur, the national and international champion folk dance company based in Ankara, and danced with them for ten years. Evren then joined the professional dance company "Sultans of the Dance" which later became “The Fire of Anatolia” in Istanbul, and danced with them from 1999 to 2005. She has traveled around the world with several different dance projects as a dancer and soloist. She has learned from and worked with many known choreographers in Turkey such as Nesrin Topkapi, Ahmet Luleci, Mustafa Erdoğan, and Oktay Keresteci. In 2007 Evren completed a “master teacher” diploma program, which was organized by the Turkish ministry of education. Since then she has been teaching dance in schools and also private workshops in Turkey and around the world. She has taught in Turkey, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Macedonia, Greece and in the USA at international dance workshops. In 2014, Evren served as an adjudicator at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held yearly in Wales, UK.
A native of Turkey, Ahmet is an accomplished choreographer, dance teacher and performer as well as a researcher of Anatolian culture. He is currently the artistic director of the Boston based Collage Dance Ensemble, which allows him to further his goal of making folk dance and music accessible to a wider audience. He is the winner of Crash Art's " Dance Straight Up! 2004 and 2006", " Ten's the limit 2005" and Boston Dance Umbrella's " Boston Moves 2001" awards for choreography. His choreography set for Budlet dance company won the Gold medal at "Hong Kong open Dance Competition 2004". He was also recently presented with the 2002 Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts & Humanities by ATAA (the Assembly of Turkish American Associations). His company Collage has won the fifth place at the world dance competition in year 2003. Since arriving in North America in 1985, he has taught many workshops and camps throughout the United States as well as Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Holland, England, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Norway, Italy, Spain and Australia. He has set innumerable suites of dances for the stage working with dance organizations around the world. Some of the notable performing ensembles with whom he has worked include AMAN of Los Angeles, BYU dancers of Provo, BUDLET of Hong Kong, LES SORTILÈGES of Montreal, and VINOK of Edmonton. In his native Turkey, he choreographed for HOYTUR and TURHOY of Ankara, ANADOLU UNIVERSITESI of Eskisehir. In 1991 Ahmet joined the Artistic Staff of AMAN as resident choreographer. From 1974 to 1985, he taught in several excellent ensembles in Ankara, Istanbul, Eskisehir and Bursa. For nearly five years prior to his departure for North America in 1985, Ahmet also served as Director of Dances for HOY-TUR, long considered Turkey's leading folkdance association. Since the age of eight he has danced with numerous school ensembles and private associations, many of which won outstanding awards in city-wide and National-International competitions. Between 1973 and 2003 he participated in International dance festivals and competitions throughout western and eastern Europe. In addition, he and his ensembles appeared in more than 60 programs broadcast nationally in countries such as Turkey, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, USA, Canada, Brazil and Germany. His college major was music, specializing in voice. Just as his love of folksongs guided him toward academic study of music, Ahmet's fascination with dance led him to conduct scholarly research into the historical, social and cultural background of the costumes and spoon dances from Turkey's Mediterranean coast. His efforts resulted in an exhaustive, 400 page study for which he was awarded First Place in the 1985 national competition in research on the folkdances of Turkey by the Turkish ministry of Youth, Sports, and Education. In 1997 Ahmet completed a second degree in Fine Arts. He is an adjudicator at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held yearly in Wales. He is currently the Artistic Director of Collage Dance Ensemble and served as an International Art Director of "Outside the Box" International Arts Festival in 2015, takes place in Boston.
Email Ahmet to purchase music for Ahmet's & Evren's dances: ahmet.luleci@gmail.com

Steve Kotansky

Balkan Dance and Culture

Steve Kotansky was raised in the San Francisco Bay area where he started international folk dancing as a high school student. Besides regular folk dancing, he performed with the Westwind International Folk Ensemble (North), and the SF Russian Dance Ensemble. In 1970 he made his first research trip to Hungary and former Yugoslavia. He returned to study dance and Slavic Languages at UCLA. While living in Los Angeles, he performed with AMAN Folk Ensemble and Vincent Evanchuk's Ukrainian dance troupe. He was also a regularly featured teacher at many of the folk dance "cafes" popular in the 1970's. In 1972, Steve received the "Rubi Vucheta" scholarship to study dance in former Yugoslavia, where he traveled with Robert Leibman recording and filming village dance throughout the country. He remained in Europe, living in Munich, Germany, where he worked with ethnic communities, taught regular classes, organized workshops, and co-founded the GAJDA Folklore Ensemble. He took advantage of his proximity to the Balkans and Eastern Europe, pursuing his study and research of their dance cultures. He taught dance all over Western Europe, choreographed for various groups, and began to organize folk dance workshops and tours to Hungary, Serbia, and Macedonia. He returned to the U.S.A in 1980 to teach at SFDC as well as most major North America dance camps/weekend workshops. Steve lives in NY with his wife Susan and their two (grown) children. They co-founded the GUZSALY Hungarian Dance Ensemble and have choreographed for many Hungarian and International Dance Ensembles in North America. Steve is know for his passion for dance and extensive knowledge of dances and style of Eastern and South-Eastern European Dance. Currently, he has been teaching dances from Macedonia, Serbia, the Albanian diaspora, Bulgaria, Romania (Csángó), and the Roma populations from these areas. Email Steve to purchase music for his dances: StephenKotansky@gmail.com

Michael Ginsburg

Bulgarian-Macedonian Dance

Michael Ginsburg
Michael Ginsburg has been director and lead trumpet player of Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band since 1983. He accompanied ZU to brass festivals in Guča, 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 and Zlatne Uste worked with Ekrem Sajdić and Zlatni Prsti brass band in 2003, and in 2005 with Vranjski Biseri, both in Vranjska Banja, Serbia. Michael performed in the summer of 2010 with Zlatne Uste at the first competition of international bands at the Sabor Trubača in Guča, Serbia, representing the United States. ​For many years, Michael has been interested in Balkan music and dances, especially Macedonian and Serbian. He is an expert in the complicated rhythms of Balkan music and has made several research trips to Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, and studied in Macedonia with Pece Atanasovski, with whom he made research tours of the country. Michael has been on the teaching staff of the Macedonian Pearl seminar in Berovo, Macedonia. Michael lives in Yonkers, NY. For Michael's dance music, email him at mginsburg@gmail.com
$10 for electronic copy of music, $15 for a CD with the music, paid directly to him.

Michele Simon


Michele Simon (michelesimonsimplyvoice.com) has been involved with music all of her life, and with Balkan folk music for most of it, as a dancer, singer, drummer and teacher. She was raised surrounded by music of all kinds, including classical (especially Bach), standards (especially Margaret Whiting, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald), and American folk music. She sang before she talked, played cello and guitar, and most formatively, enjoyed trading harmonies with her mother’s rich alto.She has been inspired by countless musicians, both in the U.S. and abroad, and has been lucky to study with, to name just a few, the late Nadezhda Hvoineva, from the Bulgarian Rhodope region; the late Esma Redžepova, Queen of Romany music; Serbian folk specialist Svetlana Spajić; Mary Sherhart of Seattle; Jane Sharp of Berkeley; and Bulgarian master singer Tatiana Sarbinska, with whom she also trained as a teacher. Over the last thirty years she has sung with Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble; and has been steeped in complex odd-metered Balkan dance rhythms through singing and playing percussion in the folk dance bands Anoush, Brass Menažeri, Helladelics and Zabava! She has appeared on recordings and stages across America and in Bulgaria, as well as on Bulgarian and Serbian TV.Michele teaches private students, workshops, and camps, including the popular Balkan Vocal Technique class that has been a staple at Mendocino Balkan Camp for almost 20 years. As a singing teacher, Michele’s specialty is integrating Balkan vocal styles with American voices. With humor, warmth and patience, she focuses on placement and sound fundamentals, using innovative exercises and imagery, as well as her model skull, Bartholomew. Michele lives in Oakland, CA.