World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Presidio Dance Theatre

Dance OriginS: Ukraine and Turkey
Genre: Traditional Folk
Artistic Director: Sherene Melania
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2009

Presidio Dance Theatre is an acclaimed multi-generational company, specializing in dance from many regions of the world and arts education programming. Presidio Performing Arts Foundation was founded in 1998, and Presidio Dance Theatre established in 2004. Artistic Director Sherene Melania performs as a principal artist with Collage Dance Ensemble, the company with which she began her work with choreographer Ahmet Luleci, a specialist in Anatolian culture. 


Titles: Zeybek, Bolu, Karadeniz
Ahmet Luleci
: Norma Adjmi, Damien Alvarez, Mustafa Bakir, Charlotte Benington, Mia Blaine, Gina Brignetti, Madeline Chan, Ryan Chan, Joelle Cope, Anise Crump, Vadim Dribinsky,
Hilda Fernandez-Morales, Natalia Garcia, Caroline Haigood, Veronica Henderson, Tricia Hinck, Olivia Kleier, Alayna Kwan, Alyssa Kwan, Arynn Kwan, Alexis Levit, Ahmet Luleci, Sophia Madhavan, Sherene Melania, Alberto Morales, Norberto Martinez, Karen Oakley, Taner Oktar, Kayhan Ozcimder, Sabrina Perrell, Hanna Persky, Alison Shimmon, Tahirih Skolnik, Rainier Styles, Rikki Weaver, Julia Zweifach

Presidio Dance Theatre presents three folk dances, each representative of a region of Anatolia, present-day Turkey.

Zeybek, from western Anatolia, is a solemn form said to be created by zeybek warriors who mimicked hawks. This performance shows a wedding dance in which a bride's friends present her to the groom. The male dancers, also called zeybek or efe, wear embroidered shalwar pants that allow them to kneel, and the bride's hands are decorated with henna for good luck.

Bolu is a popular spoon dance of central Anatolia. It's been danced for centuries to honor women's strength and their building of society through traditional work.

Karadeniz is in a style known as horon, from the Laz people of the Black Sea Coast. The name refers to a line of corn stalks tied in a lattice. It's said that Black Sea fishermen danced for fun after a day's work, imitating movements of their trade. The dancers' trembling and shivering mimic a fish trying to free itself, and also conjures up the sharp waves of the Black Sea.

Turkish folk dances are often performed outside, and they focus on nearly every aspect of life: our relationship to nature; rain, mist and rivers; plants; numbers; humans and animals; the harvest and sheep-herding; social events such as war, courtship, and marriage; and household tasks such as spinning yarn, baking, and milking. The traditional music is played on Anatolian instruments: kaba, zurna, the bell shaped horn; and the two-sided frame drum davul, played with the fingers.


Choreographer:Sherene Melania, based on the work of Igor Moiseyev
Charlotte Bennington, Mia Blaine, Tabitha Block, Genevieve Brignetti, Madeline Chan, Ryan Chan, Anise Crump, Chandler Crump, Carmela Davis, Sofia Dillingham, Anahita Ghiai-Chamlou, Aryana Ghiai-Chamlou, Caroline Haigood, Tricia Hinck, Drew Johnson, Olivia Kleier, Alayna Kwan, Alyssa Kwan, Arynn Kwan, Madeleine Lamm, Alexis Levit, Sophia Madhavan, Norberto Martinez, Corrine Pelosi, Sabrina Perrell, Hanna Persky, Tarah Rogers, Hope Rohrbach, Alison Shimmon, Rainier Styles, Asel Tynybekova, Julia Zwiefach


The Hopak began as a Cossack celebratory dance in the 16th century in what is present-day Ukraine. The Cossacks (Kazaki) were descendants of Scythian warriors living on the open plains of southern Ukraine and in Russia's Don River basin. They lived by hunting, fishing, and piracy, and they formed military-like organizations. Russian rulers began recruiting them as mercenaries, and bought their loyalty by providing them with weapons, money, and food. At one time, the Cossacks could provide 70,000 highly skilled and fearless horsemen. Their all-male military camps allowed for victory after-parties; boisterous affairs with fast, acrobatic Cossack dance.

Presidio Dance Theatre presents two dances from the Ukraine. The girls perform the Ukrainian Girls Dance, a traditional line dance, and both boys and girls revel in the Hopak. Artists and designers of the Mariinsky Theatre (formerly Kirov Ballet) created the traditional costumes for these young artists, from the floral headpieces down to the traditional dance boots.

In contrast to Cossack dance, the traditional dances of the region were reverent ritual dances performed by women. As the Cossacks became integrated into society, the two styles merged, resulting in the Hopak. Boys continued to lead, while girls danced traditional circle forms and movements in pairs. In the early 20th century, dance researcher Vasyl Verkhovynets gathered authentic village steps throughout central Ukraine, and in 1935, presented his choreography in London. It was called "The London Hopak" and it was a three-part dance, with a men's dance, much like the original Kozak dance; a slower women's segment; and a rousing closing with both male and female dancers. This form was adopted by professional folk dance ensembles, and the modern-day Hopak is choreographed to look improvised, with soloists performing jumps, spins, and acrobatic feats, and the female dancers in constant motion.

Ukrainian Suite was previously performed in Presidio Dance Theatre’s 2008 spring season of performances, including Children’s Day at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House; Youth in Arts at the Marin Center; Dancing Across Cultures at the Palace of Fine Arts; and in Russia at the 2008 Saint Petersburg White Nights Festival and the 300th Anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo. The choreography has been adapted especially for members of Presidio Dance Theatre Junior Company.

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