Location: Tucson, Ariz.
Occupation: I’m a junior in high school. I don’t currently work. I’m focusing on school!
Connection to Balkan music/dance: Balkan music and dance are a huge part of my life, specifically Greek music and dance. Aside from school, I compete and play music for groups in a Greek dance competition called FDF every year and our dance group practices year round, dancing dances from all regions in Greece. I also play live music for groups that compete. I play gaida, flogera, bouzouki, daouli, and doumbek. I fell in love with the music the first time live musicians came to play for our group.
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first year at camp, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The atmosphere around me was so welcoming and lively. I loved it.
Experience at camp: This moment at camp inspired me and I carry it close in my heart since I am preparing to start playing at practices for FDF! It was late in the evening on the second-to-last day before the end of camp, and I was sitting at a table with Christo [Govetas], Ruth [Hunter] and Eleni [Govetas] (they invited me to camp earlier that year, when they heard me playing gaida) and we got on the topic of FDF. Christo scooted over to separate himself and me from the group, and proceeded to give me a BOATLOAD of information and stellar advice about playing for groups. I won’t list it all, but the biggest piece of advice he gave me was to learn how to say no if something a director wanted didn’t fit what the music naturally did. Christo, Ruth, and Vassil [Bebelekov] were HUGE helps to me and absolutely an inspiration. Just the atmosphere of being in the woods, surrounded by amazing musicians and people and FOOD really made me kind of reshape the direction of my life! Thank you to everyone who befriended me and played amazing music with me at camp. I’m looking forward to many more years of it.