Occupation: Full-time dancer performing five nights a week in the Bay Area (www.nicolemariadance.com)
Connection to Balkan music/dance: I perform often with live music—Arabic, Moroccan, Greek, Turkish, Roma, Persian, and Balkan brass! My favorite music to dance to is Balkan brass music and as a solo dancer, sometimes I choose to fuse styles when I perform with local bands (like Inspector Gadje or Istanbul Connection). As somebody who studied anthropology and ethnomusicology, I do care about preserving culture and knowing what I am fusing, so I came to Balkan camp on the East Coast to learn more about the music and traditions that I’m interested in, as well as learn more of the dances. (www.nicolemariadance.com)
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first time at East Coast camp! I have been to Mendocino once in the past.
Studied at camp: Dance! I especially enjoyed the Greek, Macedonian, and Albanian dance classes.
Memorable moment at camp: I was really moved by the presentation on Čoček Nation’s trip to the Balkans in the weeks prior to camp. It’s so important for people who are interested in this music and dance to get over there and study in person. I have yet to do this myself, but I know I will one day and that presentation helped inspire me to want to get over there sooner. I could really feel in the presentation how it was a life-changing experience for everybody who got to go on this trip and why it’s important to “JUST DO IT!” and get over there to learn, experience, soak in the culture and also support the artists and families whose music we love so much. It was also moving to see this trip being led by members of Zlatne Uste and leaders in our local Balkan (American) community, passing on their connections and information to the next generation. I loved every moment of this presentation and it made me feel really good about the connections we have with different families and communities in the Balkans. Plus, I know when I go visit the Balkans I can reach out to my EEFC and Balkan camp community for connections to make the trip extra special!