Balkan Dance and Music at the International House | Bleader

Balkan Dance and Music at the International House

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Atanas Kolarovski
  • Vintage Atanas Kolarovski
My dancing days were over when Medusa's closed so I'm more than impressed to see 84-year-old Atanas Kolarovski hardly break a sweat at the annual Spring Festival at the University of Chicago's International House (1414 E. 59th St.). This year's three-day festival, March 25-27, offers dance and music performances, parties, and sessions featuring the dance and music of eastern Europe with workshops taught by Kolarovski (Macedonian dance) along with Ahmet Lüleci (Turkish dances), Ventzi Sotirov (Bulgarian dances), Ljupco Milenkovski (Macedonian kaval, gajda), Chris Bajmakovich (accordion, Macedonian songs), and James Stoyanoff (clarinet).

Atanas Kolarovski at the Spring Festival, March 19, 2006
Born in Drachevo (now in Macedonia), Atanas Kolarovski danced in amateur groups before being recruited into the Yugoslav Army Ensemble near the end of World War II, where he learned traditional songs and dance from all the Yugoslavian regions, including not just his own Macedonia but Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro. In 1949 he became a founding member of the Tanec Yugoslav National Folk Ensemble (now Tanec Macedonian National Folk Ensemble) where he served as lead soloist, choreographer, and artistic director. At Tanec he made his mark by choreographing such dances as Kalajdzisko Oro ("The Tinsmith's Dance") and Drachevka (named after his home village). Years of touring, performing, and teaching eventually brought Kolarovski and his family in 1973 to Seattle, where he ran a Balkan restaurant. He's been a regular instructor at the Chicago Balkan Spring Festivals and continues to teach dance around the world, including one month out of the year in Japan.

In addition to teaching workshops, Kolarovski will speak during a cultural session at noon Sunday and will show archival dance videos. He won't be performing at Saturday's gala but will receive recognition from the Macedonian consulate for his extraordinary lifelong contributions to Macedonian culture. His influence may be seen in the phenomenon known as Riverdance—whose first soloist and choreographer, Michael Flatley, performed at age 12 at the U. of C. festival with his siblings Patrick and Thomasina in the Dennehy Irish Dancers.

This year's Spring Fling includes performances from several area folk troupes, including Bulgarian Folk Club Verea, Ensemble Balkanske Igre, Kitka Macedonian Folklore Group, Romanasul Folklore Group, Soko Serbian Folklore Group, Veselica Slovak Folk Ensemble, and Wici Polish Folklore Group. Following Saturday's performances will be an evening-long dance party. Click here for pricing and information.

Atanas Kolarovski (in teal) leading the dance
  • Vera Videnovich
  • Atanas Kolarovski (in teal) leading the dance, March 17, 2007



Undated Tanec performance of Kalajdzisko Oro



Tanec performing Drachevka, named after Kolarovski's home town

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