Meet Our 2023 Teachers
SONIA DION AND CRISTIAN FLORESCU
ROMANIAN FOLK DANCE
Cristian Florescu was born in Bucharest, Romania. He started dancing in 1982 with different Romanian folk ensembles, and studied with various specialists including the renowned Theodor Vasilescu. Cristian was principal dancer with the National Ensemble Cununa Carpatilor with whom he toured extensively in Europe, Asia and North America. In 1990-91, the Romanian Ministry of Culture and the Folklore Choreographers Association of Romania awarded him a certificate recognizing him as a solo dancer and choreographer in the field of folklore. He also was chief répétiteur for the Folk Ensemble Balada in Romania and worked as choreographer for the Academic Ensemble Joc in Moldova. In 1993, he joined Les Sortilèges, a professional folk dance company based in Montreal with whom he was actively involved as a dancer, teacher, répétiteur and choreographer until 2003. Since coming to Canada, Cristian has acquired multiple skills in various dance forms including modern dance, ballroom, jazz, tap as well as French-Canadian clogging and Irish step dancing.
Sonia Dion was born in Québec and has been a professional dancer for over 20 years. She was lead dancer and choreographer for Les Sortilèges dance company, Canada’s oldest professional folk dance ensemble, with whom she developed several new productions including Une page d’histoire, un pas de danse, Montréal en danse, and Pour se faire plaisir. Sonia has toured worldwide and has been exposed to a wide range of dance techniques including Romanian folk dance, Scottish highland dancing, French-Canadian clogging and ballroom.
Cristian and Sonia have been guest performers with the Collage International Dance Ensemble of Boston, have been regular teachers at l’ École supérieure de danse du Québec and have been selected to be part of the Artists in the Schools program sponsored by the Québec Ministry of Education. In recent years, they have developed a specific interest in working with recreational folk dance groups in Canada and the United States, Mexico and Brazil. They have been teaching in Europa (Austria, England, Poland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France) in Asia (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia) and Australia to share their love of Romanian folk traditions.
Sing-alongs & Multi-Instrumentalist
Bill has the honor this year of leading our sing-a-long sessions! For the few folks on the planet who don’t already know too much about him, he is a multi-instrumentalist who is drawn to play music w/o borders, that will get people on their feet, dancing! And in the regard, he hopes to sit in with some of the live bands during our event!
He would like to add, that he’d much rather be singing along with you, playing music for or with you, or dancing with you right now, rather than writing another bio!
for more info about what he’s up to!
Asya Gorska is a Ukrainian-born artist. She is a choreographer and singer. As a singer she performs a variety of musical styles in different languages. She is also a social worker, a volunteer and a community activist.
Asya has almost 25 years of dance experience in various dance forms, such as: folk stage, ballet, Bailey dance, and ballroom dance, modern. For the past 12 years, Asya has been the Art director and choreographer of the Ukrainian ensemble “Chervona Kalyna” in Los Angeles.
The Ukrainian dance ensemble “Chervona Kalyna” was founded in 1997. Their main goal is to preserve, educate and convey to the modern generation of Ukrainians in America: the history, culture, features and regional origin of Ukrainian dance.
Another mission of the ensemble is to introduce and popularize Ukrainian culture and traditions among Americans and immigrants from other countries.
In addition, “Chervona Kalyna” actively participates in various international festivals and concerts and in many charity events supporting Ukrainians in this challenging time.
Melanie Lawson Kareem
Ukulele playing and jamming
Returning to The Laguna Folk Dance Festival, Melanie Lawson Kareem, a folk dancer since childhood, shares her lifetime of enjoying music with others by teaching ukulele on Zoom, everyday. She is well-known in the folk dance world as “The Folk Dancer’s Ukulele Teacher” having taught at Stockton Camp since 2019.
Her 45+ years of developing inspirational methods for teaching dance shaped her innovative “Melanie Method” for teaching the ukulele. The Zoom classes are specifically designed for older adults, with easy to read song sheets and a selection of well-loved songs from our favorite eras. Students with no previous musical experience catch on quickly and have become musicians.
The warm community-bonding experience on Zoom with “classmates” the world over fosters camaraderie, which grows into a “Life-Style” of daily ukulele joy. Especially meaningful are the “in-person reunions” such as The Laguna Folk Dance Festival. We welcome all new players!
Melanie Lawson Kareem is the Founder and Creative Director of www.GetStartedPlayingUkulele.com a daily Zoom class. In Mid-March 2023 a total of 1,000 Zoom classes will have been taught since the pandemic!
Svitlana Selska is from a small village in the region of Ternopil (Western Ukraine). She started studying Ukrainian folk dance at the Terebovlya College of Art. Later Svitlana joined the student ensemble “Ternotsvit” and also danced in the regional amateur Ukrainian folk dance ensemble “Chervona Kalyna” in Ternopil. One year later she came to Chicago where she joined the ensemble “Hromovytsia.” She then started to work as a dance teacher in the “Vyshyvanka” school of dance and continued teaching there for 8 years. Svitlana also danced in the ensemble “Horlytsia” and the “Mazurdance” school. In 2020 she moved to Orange county and in 2021 she joined the ensemble Chervona Kalyna in LA.
Besides Ukrainian folk dance, Svitlana has 4 years experience in salsa dance and she is also trained in ballet, ballroom, modern and other styles.
Check us out on Google Maps
24112 Moulton Pkwy
Laguna Woods CA 92637 USA
(Click to go to Google Maps)