Balkan Music &
Dance Workshops

Every summer the EEFC presents two week-long summer camps, which we’re revving up again after the long pandemic drought. Please visit the pages below to whet your appetite for the 2023 workshops!

June 17-24, 2023
More info…

August 5-12, 2023
More info…


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Our 2022-23 programs are supported in part by a generous grant from the California Arts Council.

East Coast BalkanFest

Friday, August 5, 2022
Village Community School SkyYard, Manhattan, NY
 

Saturday, August 6, 2022
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Astoria, NY

 

Come celebrate Balkan music and dance with us at our weekend festival—in person! Our East Coast BalkanFest will be held in the lively West Village and Astoria neighborhoods of the New York City boroughs. Rain or shine! Jump into the joy with a live-music dance party on Friday night and then come back for classes and more dance parties on Saturday with world-class instructors and performers. People of all ages and experience levels are welcome!

 


The Facilities

Village Community School SkyYard
The Village Community School is located in the heart of the West Village of Manhattan. Built on the roof of the school’s newest construction, the SkyYard is a large, open-air space for recreation and activity. The venue provides a bright, atmospheric place to gather with friends, eat, and, of course, dance. The building is accessible, and the SkyYard can be reached by elevator or stairs. In case of bad weather, we will move indoors to the gym.

 

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Founded in 1892 in Astoria, Queens, the aim of the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden was to support Czech and Slovak immigrants to the area, as well as people of Czech and Slovak ancestry. At one time, there were over 800 beer gardens in New York City—three in Astoria alone. Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is the oldest beer garden in New York and survives to carry the proud tradition into the new millennium! In the spacious courtyard there is a linden tree there that was planted by Václav Havel, which when in bloom fills the garden with its intoxicating scent. The old-world charm of this venue is enhanced with old signs and flags from the Czech Republic inside the bar. The large outdoor space features picnic tables, an outdoor bar, grills serving food, as well as a raised dance floor and stage. Inside boasts a spacious hall with a high ceiling, and a wooden floor for our dancing pleasure. In case of rain tents will be provided over tables. In case of particularly bad weather, outdoor events will move indoors.

 

Food

Please note that fees do not cover food or drink, so bring some extra $$ to quench your thirst and feed your kef!

Friday:
Anastasia Tsantes will provide a delectable assortment of Balkan-style meze (e.g. pitas, appetizer salads, sausages, cheese), which will be sold in various combinations to tease and please your palate. Note that our Friday party is on property where alcohol is not permitted—please plan accordingly. Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages or a water bottle that you can fill on site. In addition to the food available onsite, there are numerous establishments in the area available for your dining pleasure. Local restaurants include Italian, Southwestern American, Chinese, Mexican, and Japanese, as well as more casual delis, pizzerias, and sandwich shops.

Saturday:
Bohemian Hall has a full menu, featuring grilled fare as well as Czech and Slovak favorites. They serve a wide variety of beers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, including Golden Pheasant, BrouCzech, Pilsner Urquell, Krušovice, Czechvar, and Staropramen, as well as many craft beers. The surrounding Astoria neighborhood also has numerous restaurants and cafes for your dining and snacking pleasure.

 

Scholarships

A number of full scholarships are available for the BalkanFest weekend. Start here—deadline to apply is June 15, 2022.

 

Work Exchanges

A few tuition-waiver work exchanges may be available for participants. Inquiries for work exchanges will be entertained only after registration has begun (see below). Please contact the EEFC Office if you wish to be considered for a work exchange. We will follow up on individual work exchange requests as soon as possible.

 

Registration, Fees, and Other Information

  • Whole weekend: (Friday night + Saturday day and night): $75 (adults and kids 12-17), $30 (children 7-11), children 6 and under are free
  • Friday evening party only: $25 (adults and kids 12-17), $10 (children 7-11), children 6 and under are free
  • Saturday: $50 (adults and kids 12-17), $20 (children 7-11), children 6 and under are free
  • What it covers. Fees include participation in dance parties and classes; food and drink are not included (see “Food” above).
  • Paying it forward. When you register you will have an opportunity to kick in a little extra to help support this event and keep costs down for as many people as possible.
  • Covid protocols. We are asking all participants to present evidence of current Covid vaccinations and boosters (see the registration form for details), and we will require masking in all indoor spaces. See the FAQs for more details.

Online registration is open (see the red “Register” tab above). Event updates will be announced through our E-newsletter (sign-up if you haven’t already), the EEFC Discussion list, and on our Facebook page.

2022 Staff & Bands

Click on the red Schedule tab above for workshop and dance set times and locations

Staff and band listings are subject to update and change.

Teachers & Dance Leaders

Beth Bahia Cohen

Makams in Balkan Folk Music

Beth Bahia Cohen has spent a large part of her career exploring how the violin is played in various cultures. Of Syrian Jewish and Russian Jewish heritage, she was inspired at a young age by the...Read More


Michael Ginsburg

Balkan Dance

On Friday, Michael Ginsburg will introduce the dances played by Niva during the dance workshop. Michael has been director and lead trumpet player of Zlatne Uste...Read More


Adam Good

Balkan Strings

On Saturday, Adam will present North Macedonian tunes for plucked instruments such as tambura, guitar, mandolin, banjo, oud, džumbuš, bouzouki, etc. The class will be taught by ear, notation,...Read More



Merita Halili

Albanian Singing

Merita Halili is one of Albania’s top performers. Born in the capital city of Tiranë, Merita grew up singing the lyric songs of her native region of Central Albania. Her nationwide debut...Read More


Raif Hyseni

Albanian/Kosovar Ensemble

Raif Hyseni hails from The Republic of Kosova, which has a large Albanian majority. He grew up in the town of Mitrovicë, where he studied accordion at music school and performed in amateur...Read More

Jerry Kisslinger

Balkan Rhythm Planet

On Saturday, in this 90-minute, light-hearted immersion into Balkan rhythms, you will learn to feel, count, and play common dance rhythms of the southern Balkans—in 4, 7, 9, or 11—at least....Read More


Steve Kotansky

Balkan Dance

Steve Kotansky, known widely as a versatile dancer and teacher, has made many research trips to Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Greece, and Albania. He has been a regular on...Read More


Corinna Škėma Snyder

Balkan Singing & Songs

Together we'll learn and sing traditional songs from different regions in Macedonia and Bulgaria, including songs in two voices—drone and melody, and you'll take home lyrics with...Read More

Bands

101 Gaidi I Tupani New York

Bulgarian Rhodope Bagpipes

A project of Young Bulgarian Voices New York, 101 Kaba Gaidi I Tupani New York features the massive, rich sounds of the deep...Read More

Dimitris Stefanidis

Pontic Lyra

Dimitris Stefanidis was born in the village of Mesaio near Thessaloniki in Greece. The residents of the village were majority first-generation Pontian Greek refugees, so Dimitris was exposed to...Read More


Greek-Epiros Ensemble

Greek & Epirot

We're thrilled to bring together five stellar musicians who will play a set of Greek and Epirotic music for your dancing pleasure. The ensemble is led by George Stathos (clarinet), with Yianni...Read More


Kavala Brass Band

Greek Brass

Kavala Brass Band plays traditional music of Northern Greece, with an exceedingly danceable repertoire that reflects the rich brass band practices of the region. The band is: Catherine Foster -...Read More


Niva

Macedonian

Niva is a four-woman band that plays and sings Macedonian roots music— alternately lyrical, mournful, ecstatic, and spooky music that used to be the soundtrack of everyday life back in the day....Read More

Pontic Firebird

Pontic Greek

Pontic Firebird plays traditional Greek dance music from the Black Sea area of Turkey (Pontos). Band members are: Beth Bahia Cohen - violin, Adam Good - oud, Jerry Kisslinger - daouli, and Paul...Read More

Raif Hyseni & Friends

Albanian/Kosovar

Raif Hyseni is a consummate bandleader, and for our festival he has assembled a stellar group of musicians to delight dancers and listeners alike, featuring Merita Halili with her compelling and...Read More

Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band

Balkan Brass

The foremost presenters of traditional Balkan brass music in the US, Zlatne Uste's repertoire spans the most important stops in the traditional music of the Balkans. ZU has been a six-time invited...Read More


Daily Schedule

Please note the schedule and bands are subject to change, even at the very last minute. Schedule updated 8/5/22

 

Friday, August 5
Village Community School Gymnasium (MOVED BECAUSE OF RAIN!)
  • 6:00 p.m.: Doors open
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dance workshop with live music to get your feet moving, featuring Michael Ginsburg and Demetrios Tashie
  • 7:30 p.m.: Dance party officially begins with Niva and continues with Kavala Brass Band
  • 11:00 p.m.: Evening activities end in Manhattan. See you tomorrow in Astoria!

 

Saturday, August 6
Bohemian Hall

 

Frequently Asked Questions & Important Information

This section is a work in progress. You can help! If you have a general question, email us and we’ll do our best to answer it, and if appropriate, include it in this list. UPDATED 7/27/22

 

What are the addresses of the BalkanFest venues and how do I get there? (Click on the links below for detailed directions)

 

Can you expand a bit on your event Covid protocols?

  • First of all, these protocols have been established in the spirit of best practices and the common good—so that we can ALL feel safe and comfortable while celebrating with each other. We are aware that Covid cases may occur despite our best efforts.
  • Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces (exceptions below).
  • All participants must be fully vaccinated and boosted. The registration form provides a field where you will upload your proof of vaccination.
  • Please note that outside activities on Saturday at Bohemian Hall will also be accessible to the general public who are dining in the beer garden and who may or may not be vaccinated. Access to the daytime indoor classes and evening dance party will be restricted to BalkanFest participants, who will have shown proof of vaccination when they registered, with masking required.
  • Please do not come to BalkanFest if you have tested positive for Covid-19 within the 5 days prior to the event or have symptoms of Covid-19 within the 5 days prior to the event.
  • We advise everyone to take a PCR or antigen test 3 days prior to the beginning of BalkanFest.
  • We will have a small emergency stock of N95 or KN95 masks on hand in case you forget to bring your own.

 

You’re asking that everyone be masked in indoor spaces. Will there be exceptions?

  • Yes. We will make exceptions for featured dance bands who will be playing on stage at a safe distance from dancers. We will also permit featured teachers to conduct their classes maskless, though students should remain masked. Students who are bringing wind instruments to play in class will be permitted to remove their masks, but we will make sure everyone is positioned a safe distance from one another.

 

Will activities be held inside or outside?

  • Friday: Everything will he held outside on the Village Community School roof SkyYard. Everyone attending will be required to be vaccinated.
  • Saturday: Both! There will be live music and dancing outside all day long in the Bohemian Hall courtyard with 10 picnic tables reserved for our participants and placed near the raised dance floor. There will also be music workshops and an evening dance party inside in the Hall and Meeting Room.

 

Are Bohemian Hall and the Meeting Room air-conditioned?

  • There is air conditioning that will be used in the likely event of a warm August day. The Meeting Room has a wall-inserted air conditioner. We are checking on the air conditioning in the inside Hall and will update everyone regarding this situation. Both rooms have high ceilings. Masking will be required indoors.

 

What if it rains?

  • We’ve got you covered!
  • Friday: If it rains we’ll move inside to the Village School’s large gymnasium.
  • Saturday: If the rain is occasional and light, tents will be provided over the outdoor tables. The courtyard dance area might be exposed to a bit of drizzle in this case. If there is heavy rain or storms, all events will be moved indoors, and the music program will be slightly condensed.

 

I’m bringing a heavy instrument to Bohemian Hall. Do I have to lug it around all day?

  • There will be a dedicated corner in one of our activity rooms where you’ll be able to stash your instrument safely when you’re not using it.
  • Make sure to mark your instrument and/or its case with your name!

 

What’s the policy around alcohol consumption at the festival?

  • Friday: Because we’re on school grounds, alcohol will not be permitted at the Village Community School. We know you’ll still have lots of fun.
  • Saturday: Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is, well, a beer garden, so alcohol will naturally be available for sale. The folks at Bohemian Hall have told us that they’re (naturally) strict about who gets to drink alcohol there—it’s a legal thing. If you are under 21, you cannot consume alcohol, even if someone 21 or older passes you a glass of wine or bottle of beer. The Bohemian Hall security personnel will eject you from the site if you do not follow their rules.

 

BalkanFest? Is this event related to Golden Fest?

  • Not directly, but you should know that the EEFC has deep and abiding connections to New York’s Golden Festival, which is produced and hosted by Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band and the Golden Festival Organizing Committee. We’re excited that Zlatne Uste will be a featured band at BalkanFest (don’t miss ’em—see the Schedule tab above to find out when they’re playing).

 

Class Materials & Resources for Download

Updated 8/5/22

 

To download audio files and PDFs:
PC: right-click as you click on the red download link.
Mac: press Control as you click on the red download link.
Note: Some browsers work better than others for downloading. So if you’re not successful with one browser, try another.
 

Adam Good – Balkan Strings

Bajramsko Oro
Charts:

Audio examples:

Pembe
Charts:

Audio example:

 

Jerry Kisslinger – Balkan Rhythm Planet

Charts:

 

Corinna Škėma Snyder – Balkan Singing & Songs

Lyrics sheets:

 

Registration Form



 

Live Streams

For those of you unable to make it to this weekend’s festival, we are offering free live streams on YouTube of the Friday night dance party at Village Community School SkyYard, and of the Saturday bands playing in the Main Hall of Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden.

Click on the red “YouTube” links below to access each evening’s live stream. These streams are in real time and will become active about 15 minutes before things start a-poppin’!

Note that schedules are subject to change. All times in Eastern.

Friday, August 5
YouTube link
6:30 p.m.: Dance workshop with Demetrios Tashie and Michael Ginsburg
7:30 p.m.: Kavala Brass Band
9:15 p.m.: Niva

Saturday, August 6
YouTube link
6:30 p.m.: Greek Island with Beth Bahia Cohen & Adam Good
6:45 p.m.: Pontic Firebird
8:15 p.m.: Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band