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Stephen Kotansky began folk dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area back in the late 1960’s. He quickly took an interest in Balkan and East-European dances and even began teaching as a teenager. He performed with the Westwind Folk Ensemble and Vladimir Perfiloff’s Russian Dance Company before moving to Los Angeles as a dance major at UCLA. While in Los Angeles, Stephen danced with the renowned AMAN Folk Ensemble as well as Vince Evanchuck’s Ukrainian Dance Group and Robin Evanchuck’s Liberty Assembly. Stephen was also a regular teacher at the Intersection Folk Dance Café and Zorba’s in the San Fernando Valley.
In 1970, Stephen made his first research trip to Hungary and Yugoslavia where he worked with the Hungarian State Ensemble and collected village dances in Croatia. He returned to Yugoslavia in 1972 where he stayed for 6 months researching, collecting, and recording village dance with Dr. Robert Leibman. He spent 8 years in Germany where he taught, choreographed, and performed ethnic dance from Central and South-Eastern Europe and Turkey.
Upon returning to the states in 1980, Stephen settled in New York City where he taught regularly for the Ethnic Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Arts), and the American-Hungarian Folklore Centrum. He co-founded, with his wife Susan, the Guzsaly Hungarian Dance Ensemble and was an adjunct teacher at the Hunter College Dance Department. Stephen and Susan continued to make research trips to Europe and became popular teachers at all the major folk dance camps and seminars in North America. During the late 1980’s Stephen worked with top professional dancers, choreographers, and researchers in Hungary. In 1994, Stephen became a teacher at the Renaissance School in Jackson Heights, Queens, where he piloted a World Dance Program for grades 1-10.
Stephen continues to be a much sought-after teacher and choreographer known for his joyous and unique teaching style, and extensive knowledge of the cultures and styles of dance he teaches.