The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Elsie Ivancich Dunin, teacher and author of books about the Balkans.
Elsie was born in the United States of Croatian and Hungarian parents. From them she learned kolos and dances of their native region, but her introduction to organized folk dancing came when she was a freshman at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Later she became the first graduate student in the newly formed Department of Dance to complete a master's thesis (1966) with a dance ethnology focus.
Elsie was active with the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, from the mid-1950s until the 1980s, including a role as chairperson of the Archives Committee. Intermittingly during years 1968–1979, Elsie directed Betyárok, a performing group dedicated to Hungarian Dance, and while on faculty at UCLA, lead a student group performing dances from Yugoslavia.
Leading up to her professional dance activities, Elsie returned to Yugoslavia in 1957 to study dances and folklore material (she had already traveled there as a teenager with her parents for several months in 1951); while in Macedonia, she was invited to be a performing member with "Tanec," a professional folk dance ensemble based in Skopje, Macedonia.
Back in the United States and for two years, 1959 to 1961, Elsie presented a half-hour radio program, bi-weekly, on folk dance music for radio station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles. As of the late 1950s, she was frequently invited to teach workshops and institutes on dance at several colleges, universities, and recreational folk dance organizations on the West Coast.
Elsie completed her Master of Arts thesis, Department of Dance, UCLA, in 1966. The title: "Silent dances of Dinaric Mountain area: analysis of purpose, form, and style of selected dances." In the 1960s, doctoral studies in the field of dance did not exist. This title was the earliest "dance ethnology" thesis in the Department of Dance that was established in the College of Fine Arts at UCLA in 1962.
After 1967 she made frequent trips to "former" Yugoslavia, primarily to document and to conduct research on Romani dances in Macedonia. A decade later, a sabbatical year was spent in the Dubrovnik area of Croatia (1976-1977) to delve into a comparative study of dance continuities and change among California's South Slavs with their emigrant source areas.
From 1992 to 1993, Elsie was co-chair of the UCLA Department of Dance. She retired from UCLA in 1994. Retirement for Elsie, however, does not mean inactivity! She is currently active as a dance research associate with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, Croatia. As a dance ethnologist (in Europe, the term is ethnochoreologist), Elsie has focused on dance research projects in southeastern Europe; some current field research is reported in Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (CCDR) website. She was the organizer of an international symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology, held in Korčula 2000. Themes were "Sword dances in ritual complex" and "Revival of dance culture" (proceedings were published in 2001 see below). Elsie was also the organizer of an international meeting "Moreška: past and present" held in Korčula on 2001 (symposium proceedings were published 2002). Another symposium project was for Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (CCDR) in Flagstaff, Arizona 2003, "Applying dance ethnology and dance research in the 21st century." In 2014, she was responsible for another ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology symposium in Croatia on the island of Korčula.
She continues to present dance research papers at international and national conferences, publishes articles and monographs on dance events of the Macedonian Rom, South Slavic diasporas in California and Chile, and in Croatia studies of weddings with Lindjo dancing in the Dubrovnik area and sword dancing on the island of Korčula. She co-authored a book on Macedonian dances with Stanimir Višinski (text in Macedonian and English, with Labanotation scores), published in Macedonia in 1995, compiled and edited a resource book 2006, about Korčula's sword dance Moreška, and edited and co-edited several volumes for the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) Study Group on Ethnochoreology (for symposia held in 2000-Korčula, Croatia; 2002-Szeged, Hungary; 2004-Monghidoro, Italy; 2006-Cluj, Romania; 2008-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2010-Trešt, Czech Republic; 2012-Limerick, Ireland; 2014-Korčula, Croatia).
Elsie is married to Stanley Dunin, past president of a computerized title insurance service company, and past volunteer in the Peace Corps (1990s). They have two daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Selected from Professor Dunin's more than a hundred publications (1965-2015) related to dance subjects are:
Elsie taught dances and prepared dance descriptions for Folk Dance Federation workshops and conferences (1958–1972). Among the dances learned from dancers, teachers, and written sources in "former" Yugoslavia and introduced to folk dancers in California are:
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