David Shochat


Balkan, Scandinavian

David Shochat c1997



David Shochat was a performer with the famed AMAN Folk Ensemble (aka, AMAN International Music and Dance Company) of Los Angeles, California, and the AVAZ International Dance Theatre, both ensembles founded by Anthony Shay, where his specialty had been Balkan dances and music.

In 1963, when David was just starting to folkdance in California at the Pasadena Folk Dance Coop, David learned many international dances, including Yugoslav "kolos," non-partner line and circle dances. Diane Colony came to the group and announced that a new group called Balkan Coop was forming. She said to come if you were an "experienced kolo dancer." David and his dancing cohort, Michael Anthony, discussed the matter and concluded that although they did not qualify as "experienced kolo dancers," they would go anyway and David became instantly head over heals in love with balkan music and dancing. David attended more balkan classes taught by Rubi Vučeta, Barry Glass, and Dick Oakes at The Intersection, a folk dance coffeehouse in Los Angeles, California.

David became a performer with AMAN, Sobranie, Sredec, and back to AMAN again, staying with the ensemble until about 1977. Later, he had a brief stint performing with AVAZ.

In 1968, David went to the Balkans, where he first met Pece Atanasovski. Pece taught him Dračevka, which David subsequently taught at various venues in the United States. On that same trip, he met Steve and Nahoma Sachs, who drove David and Cathy (his first wife and mother of his daughter Lisa, who graduated from Cal State, Humbolt) around Bulgaria. They took the Shochats to the village of Kameno (near Burgas) and introduced them to Slavi Ivanov, sometimes referred to as "Baj Slavi," from whom David purchased his first kaval (a Bulgarian and Macedonian end-blown flute). Also on that trip, in Plovdiv, David learned a slow version of the dance Trite Pâti from Pavel Kalpakliev.

In 1972, AMAN sent David to learn dances to teach at the AMAN Institute. Taking Cathy along, he went to Pece's camp at Oteševo at Lake Prespa and then went on to Badija, an islet near Korčula, Dalmatia (Croatia), where they were teaching dances from the Moravaska Ethnographic Zone of Serbia. It was there that David learned the trio of dances Polomka, Metovničanka, and Kostenka. These were taught with an East Serbian bellows-powered gajda (a two-voice bagpipe) providing the music. When David brought the three dances back to the United States, it was decided to record them with brass in which Pitu Guli, a band with which David played, was particularly interested at the time. The result is on the AMAN LP #4 recording with David playing tuba.

Again in 1972, David went back to Kameno, Macedonia, and bought two more kavals from Baj Slavi. He still has them and plays them from time to time. He even took a lesson from Valeri Georgiev at the 2004 Buffalo on the Danube Camp.

David was remarried and, with his second wife Sue, has two sons: Matthew, the elder son, who is now in the Navy and married to Tara whom he met in boot camp, and Tom, who recently graduated from Boston University last year.

David and Gina Shochat c1997 It was David's third wife Gini who got him started doing Scandinavian dancing. She already knew how, so she sent David to Ted Martin and Donna Tripp's class in Anaheim, California, where he learned the ropes. "At first," he says, "I thought I'd never figure out how to do a Polska turn without falling flat on my face," but learn he did.

David and Gini moved to the Boston, Massachusetts, area in Fall of 1997, where the couple makes its home. He says his passion these days is for singing. He says, "I discovered a wonderful group out here called Village Harmony and has been going to their adult camps (they started out as a touring group for teens) every summer since 2001." The first camp he went to concentrated on Balkan music, but it is a very eclectic outfit and soon David discovered South African and later Gospel, both of which he now loves.

Dances David has taught include Beranče, Dračevka, Kostenka, Metovničanka, Nevestinsko, Polomka, Skudrinka, Tapkalica, Treskavica Okolo, Treskavica Sitna, Trite Pâti, Zavrzlama, and Zetovsko.