The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Mihai David, teacher of Romanian dance.
Mihai was born in 1946 in Bucureşti (Bucharest), Romania, and began dancing to his uncle's balalaika music. At age eight, Mihai attended the Pioneers Youth Palace where youth interested in dance were schooled.
Two years later, he was selected to attend the School of Choreography in Bucharest and continued there for eight years, studying classical ballet, character dance, modern dance, and folk dance. While at the school, he danced with the UTM (The Young Communists) ensemble, directed by Theodor Vasilescu (the UTM considered to be the best amateur ensemble in Romania). Even before his graduation at the age of 17, he was dancing with the Romanian State Folk Ballet Ciocârlia, became one of their lead dancers, and continued touring with the troupe throughout Europe for two years.
Mihai resigned from Ciocârlia and joined another professional group, The Music Hall Ensemble, with whom his brother, Alexandru David, was a lead dancer. Two weeks later, Mihai traveled to Paris, France (leaving his brother behind because Alexandru had associations in the West and the Romanian government was afraid that he would defect). Mihai later toured East Berlin, Germany, and Italy. It was in Italy, in June of 1966, the day before the ensemble's last performance, that he defected to the West.
Mihai immigrated to the United States in January of 1967, took various odd jobs to support himself, danced with the Boston Ballet Company, and had his own exhibition group within the Detroit, Michigan, Romanian community. He then moved to California and danced adagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was drafted into the United States Army from Nevada. While in the service, he danced with the Augusta Ballet Company in Georgia.
In 1969, Mihai dropped into The Intersection, a folk dance coffeehouse, where Dick Oakes got him invited to teach Romanian dances and his folk dance teaching career was launched. In 1970, he opened and operated his coffee house, Gypsy Camp, in Hollywood, California until its closing in 1976.
Mihai taught Romanian dance at the Kolo Festival in San Francisco in 1972, the Stockton Folk Dance Camp, and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference in 1973. He was co-director of the Hawaii and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Symposiums and the Catalina International Dance Festival.
Mihai has devoted himself to teaching Romanian folk dance and has introduced many of the most popular Romanian dances being done in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Orient. His teaching tours have taken him throughout the western hemisphere, the Orient, and Australia. Mihai has conducted several tours throughout the Balkans and the Middle East. When he is not dancing, he operates his own construction company in southern California.
In 2000, Mihai and brother Alexandru were invited to teach in Brazil.
On March 13, 2004, the San Antonio College Folk Dance Festival honored Mihai as an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the idiom of international folk dancing. In her introduction of Mihai, Vonnie Brown said, "You have been a very fine ambassador for Romania and the impact you have had on international folk dancing has been very good, indeed. You brought a beauty and excitement to the dance that will never be forgotten. From all of us thank you!"
Mihai has a daughter, Aubrey, who also is a dancer, actress, and singer.
Mihai and Alexandru have produced several recordings of Romanian and Russian dance music.
Mihai also taught to the following records:
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