Billy and Susie Burke
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William C. Burke (known affectionately by one and all as "Billy" ever since he was a knee-high-to-a-grasshopper folk dancer) was for many years a performer with the famed AMAN Folk Ensemble (aka, AMAN International Music and Dance Company) of Los Angeles, California.
His mother became involved in folk dancing when Billy was not quite two years old and he was taken to all of her practices and performances. She started a class for children when Billy was five, then started a performance group for young people when he was twelve.
With this background, Billy started dancing with his first adult performing group, Madelynne Greene's Folkance Workshop, in San Francisco, California. He later danced with a wide variety of ethnic dance clubs there, including Russian, German, Balkan, Scottish, and various others.
At age 19, Billy toured the United States and Canada with the Don Cossack Choir (now the Bolshoi Don Cossacks) as a professional dancer. In 1970, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he joined AMAN, becoming the first director of the chamber group. After several years, he retired and started his work with children.
Billy has taught traditional dance in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for more than 25 years and currently instructs teachers how to introduce traditional and recreational dance into their class curriculums. The California Arts Project has awarded him several opportunities to increase other teachers' awareness of traditional dance and the arts in general. The University of Phoenix provides him the setting for teaching nearly 100 teachers at a time. He teaches at dance and physical education conferences around California and was a contributing member of the team that wrote the LAUSD Performing Arts Standards and had input into the current state standards.
Billy has directed a folk dance performing group, Tanza, for many years and is currently on the staff of the Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks, California, where he also directs the Millikan Dancers.
Billy is an author, dancer, performer, choreographer, and world traveler. He took a seminar in Badija, Yugoslavia, in 1971, where he learned dances from from Rezija, a remote, isolated valley just across the Slovenian border into Italy. He presented two Resijan dances at the 1972 AMAN Institute.
Billy was one of the directors of the Mendocino Folklore Camp, where he helped institute some changes, such as, widening the teaching staff to include "experiential" classes in singing, drumming, tinwhistle, and other non-dancing activities.
Among Billy's articles and publications is
- Celebration of Diversity: Multicultural Experience Through the Art of Dance, which is available directly from Billy and his wife, Susie.
Dances Billy has taught include Aloniotikos Horos, Bačko Kolo, Baroš oj Barica, Bibersko Kolo, Bitoljka, Ciganka, Coprnice, Delčevsko Horo, Dorgun Çoruh, Drmačica, Drmeš iz Velika Gorica, Drmeš iz Pokuplja, Falila se Jagica Djevojka, Gankino Horo (Kopanica), Învârtita, Jeni Jol, Katuše Mome Katuše, Kavadarka, Klinčec Stoji pod Oblokom, Kolenike-Osmaputka, Kukurigu Petle, Lepa Anka Kolo Vodi, Lepa Moja Milena, Leventikos Horos, Međimurski Lepi Dečki, Misnjaca, Mista, Neda Voda Nalivala, Oj Rastiću Šušnjati-Mista, Oro Vičanka, Osogovka, Polomka, Potkolo, Raqassat Es-San'a, Rezijanka I, Rezijanka II, Ruzmarinka (Četvorka), Silistrenski Opas, Svatovska Polka, Čumadijsko Kolo, Svatovska Polka, Ta Potrkana, Taraban, Treskavica Sitna, Torbat-Jam 1 & 2, U Selo Tapan Čukaše, Zavrzlama, Ženil si je Sirotek, Žensko Čamče, Žensko Pušteno, and Žvansko Oro.