Stephen “Steve” Kotansky was raised in the San Francisco area, moved to southern California after high school, and danced with the prestigious AMAN Folk Ensemble (aka, AMAN International Music and Dance Company) of Los Angeles, California. He also danced with Vince Evanchuk and his Ukrainian dance troupe, the Westwind Folk Ensemble, and the San Francisco Russian Dance Group, before becoming a dance major at the University of California at Los Angeles. Meanwhile, he continued his study and teaching of Balkan and Central European dance culture. He made his first research trip to Hungary and former Yugoslavia in 1970. In the early 1970s, Steve traveled throughout Germany for seven years. He worked with ethnic communities in Munich, teaching international folk dance, performed and co-founded the performing group Gajda, while taking advantage of his proximity to Balkan and Eastern European countries to pursue his interest in the study and research of their dances. He also lived in Bucovina for a while learning local folklore.
Steve taught folk dance in Western Europe and organized workshops in Hungary, Macedonia, and Serbia. In the late 1970s, Steve returned to Hungary and studied with dance master, Timár Sándor, among others. It was during this time that Steve met his future wife, Susan Snyder. Steve has since taught at every major North American festival and camp, often with his wife, Susy. Their work continues to be an expression of their love and passion for dance, finding time to teach dance to children K-12 in New York City area public and private schools. Steve also serves as a consultant to several Hungarian folk ensembles. Most recently, Steve has been researching Albanian and Roma dance from the Diaspora and continues his work and research in Balkan and Central European countries. He is particularly interested in dance culture as it has evolved since the “fall of the Wall” in these countries.