Mihai David



Mihai David 2005 - Photo by Dick Oakes

Photo by Dick Oakes


Mihai David

Mihai David Mihai David was born in 1946 in București (Bucharest), Romania, and began dancing to his uncle's balalaika music. At age eight, Mihai attended the Pioneers Youth Palace where youth interested in dance were schooled.

Two years later, he was selected to attend the School of Choreography in Bucharest and continued there for eight years, studying classical ballet, character dance, modern dance, and folk dance. While at the school, he danced with the UTM (The Young Communists) ensemble, directed by Theodor Vasilescu (the UTM considered to be the best amateur ensemble in Romania). Even before his graduation at the age of 17, he was dancing with the Romanian State Folk Ballet Ciocârlia, became one of their lead dancers, and continued touring with the troupe throughout Europe for two years.

Mihai resigned from Ciocârlia and joined another professional group, The Music Hall Ensemble, with whom his brother, Alexandru David, was a lead dancer. Two weeks later, Mihai traveled to Paris (leaving his brother behind because Alexandru had associations in the West and the Romanian government was afraid that he would defect). Mihai later toured East Berlin, Germany, and Italy. It was in Italy, in June of 1966, the day before the ensemble's last performance, that he defected to the West.

Mihai immigrated to the United States in January of 1967, took various odd jobs to support himself, danced with the Boston Ballet Company, and had his own exhibition group within the Detroit, Michigan, Romanian community. He then moved to California and danced adagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was drafted into the U.S. Army from Nevada. While in the service, he danced with the Augusta Ballet Company in Georgia.

In 1969, Mihai dropped into The Intersection, a folk dance coffeehouse, where Dick Oakes got him invited to teach Romanian dances and his folk dance teaching career was launched. In 1970, he opened and operated his Gypsy Camp Folk Dance Café in Hollywood, California until its closing in 1976.

Mihai taught Romanian dance at the California Kolo Festival in San Francisco in 1972 and the Stockton Folk Dance Camp and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference in 1973. He was co-director of the Hawaii and Santa Barbara Folk Dance Symposiums and the Catalina International Dance Festival.

Calusarii dancer Mihai David in Calusarii jump Mihai has devoted himself to teaching Romanian folk dance and has introduced many of the most popular Romanian dances being done in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Orient. His teaching tours have taken him throughout the western hemisphere, the Orient, and Australia. Mihai has conducted several tours throughout the Balkans and the Middle-East. When he is not dancing, he operates his own construction company in southern California.

In 2000, Mihai and brother Alexandru were invited to teach in Brazil.

On March 13, 2004, The San Antonio College Folk Dance Festival honored Mihai as an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the idiom of international folk dancing. In her introduction of Mihai, Vonnie Brown said, "You have been a very fine ambassador for Romania and the impact you have had on international folk dancing has been very good, indeed. You brought a beauty and excitement to the dance that will never be forgotten. From all of us -- thank you!"

Mihai has a daughter, Aubrey, who also is a dancer, actress, and singer.

Mihai and Alexandru have produced several recordings of Romanian and Russian dance music that are available at your local folk dance recording outlet or from Mihai himself.

Some of the more than 150 dances Mihai has taught include Alunelul ca la Cîrna, Alunelul de Brâu, Alunelul de la Goicea, Ana I da și, Arcanul Moldovenesc, Ardelean, Ațica, Bătrâneasca de la Ciocanești, Boereasca, Bătucele, Bătută Muntenească, Bătută Purceilor, Bătută Țaraneasca, Brâu Batrin din Banat, Brâul, Brâul (Cîntec), Brâul ca la Frumoasa, Brâul Drept, Brâul Drept Bătrinesc, Brâul lui Ioșca, Brâul Oltenesc, Brâul pe Opt, Brâul pe Șase, Brâul Petroșenilor, Brâulețul, Ca din Bucium, Cadineasca, Ca la Breaza, Ca la Mahala, Ca la Ses, Cencanița, Chindia, Chilabaua de la Urluieni, Cimpoi, Cîntec, Ciobanașul, Ciocârlia, Ciuleandra<, Cotița, Crăițele, Craițele de la Plenița, Crihalma, Dama, Damul, Dana-i da, Dans Ciobanesc, Dans din Caiuți, Dans din Oaș, Dans Banățeăn, Dansul Cojocului, De-a Lungul și Hațegana, De Doi din Banat, Doiul din Banat, Dura, Dușmanii Țiganilor, Fedeleșul, Fedeleșul Fetelor, Fetele din Crihalma, Floricică, Floricica de Nuci, Floricica din Caluș, Floricică Oltenească, Găselnița (Căselnița), Hațegana, Hora Banațeana, Hora Bătrîneasca, Hora Dragasenilor, Hora Dreaptă, Hora de la Botoroaga, Hora de la Gorj, Hora de la Rudari, Hora de la Titu, Hora de la Voitenul, Hora de Mîna, Hora din Banat, Hora din Bucovina, Hora din Caval, Hora din Goicesti, Hora din Moldava, Hora din Neruja, Hora din Rudari, Hora din Goicesti, Hora Drăgășenilor, Hora Dreaptă, Hora Fetelor, Hora în Două Parți, Hora la Dreapta, Hora la Patru, Hora lui Chisar, Hora Mare (Moldova), Hora Mare a Cîmpulungului, Hora Oltenească, Hora pe Bataie, Hora Ploii, Hora Spoitorilor, Hora Țiganilor, Hot Cheese (Fierbinte Brînză), Învârtita, Învârtita de la Făgăraș, Ițele, Jianca, Jianul, Joc de la Măcies, Joc din Almas, Joc din Bihor, Joc din Mișa, Joc Țiganesc de Doi, Jocul de-a Lungul, Jocuri de Doi, Lămîița, Lăutăreasca, Mîndrele, Mireasa Cunana Ta, Mîndrulița Ardeleană, Mocanească, Moldovenească din Pascani, Momirul, Mureșanca, Murgulețul, Păhărelul, Poloxia, Roata din Bihor, Rugojina, Ruseasca, Rustemul, Rustemul de Brîu, Rustemul de la Îtoarsa, Salajan, Scrisul, Shioapa, Sârba Bănățeană, Sârba Calușarilor, Sârba de Doina, Sârba de Doua, Sârba Dracilor, Sârba Fetelor, Sârba de la Belcesti, Sârba de la Calafat, Sârba din Cimpoi, Sârba Dracilor, Sârba de la Falticeni, Sârba din Mandonlina, Sârba din Slatina, Sârba Ingradina, Sârba la Trei, Sârba Moldovaneasca, Sârba Muntească, Sârba Olenească, Sârba Pe Loc, Soroc (Sorocul), Tărănească din Horodnic, Țarina de la Abrud, Țarina de pe Gaina, Țarina din Maramureș, Țiganesc de București, Tințaroiul de la Laslovăt, Tocul, Trei Păzește, Trei Păzește din Bîrca, Trei Păzește Voinicește, Trilișești de la Mânăstirea, and Zamfirica.

Mihai David and Dick Oakes 7-27-2013

Mihai David & Dick Oakes, July 27, 2013,
Boulder, Colorado