The NFO’s 2020 Annual Conference
is scheduled for March 4-8,
in Laguna Woods, California
in conjunction with the
50th Annual
Laguna Folk Dance Festival
March 6-8

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NFO registration (including the Laguna Folk Dance Festival) is $150.  Yes, your registration fee for the NFO Conference will cover BOTH events, all of the NFO activities and as well as the Laguna Folk Dance Festival activities. Two events for one price — an opportunity you can’t afford to miss!

Hotel: The official conference hotel is the Ayres Hotel, 24341 El Toro Road, Laguna Woods, California. For reservations, call the hotel directly at 949-588-0131. Register before February 11 to receive the NFO-discounted room rate of $131/night. Rooms have 1 king bed or 2 queen beds, so line up your roommates! Rooms have a refrigerator and microwave. Our room rate includes a cooked-to-order full American breakfast and buffet, free parking, wi-fi, a heated pool, and a spa and fitness center.

Airports: There are three airports in the area — LAX, Long Beach, and John Wayne (Orange County). John Wayne is closest, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. If you’ll need transportation from the airport, please note that on your reservation form. We will try to assist you in making connections with others arriving at about the same time. Uber or Lyft are also available.

Locations: Wednesday night’s President’s Reception will be at the Laguna Woods Village Club House 2, an easy 5-minute walk from the hotel. Thursday’s events will be at the hotel, and Friday’s events will be at the Laguna Country United Methodist Church, a 5-minute drive from the Ayres Hotel. The Laguna Folk Dance Festival activities Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday, will be at the Laguna Woods Village Club House 2.

Meals: Dinners on Wednesday and Thursday nights are included in the $150 registration fee. Thursday and Friday lunches will be available, and can be paid for along with your NFO registration. Saturday and Sunday meals can be ordered at the “Laguna Folk Dance Festival 2020” website.

A detailed schedule is here.  More information about the speakers, presentations, and activities coming soon!

If you have questions, contact Cricket at

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Download a detailed Schedule of Events


Please note: Not all the presenters are featured below. As information is obtained, this section will be updated.

BILL COPE — Many Instruments

Bill Cope is a multi-instrumentalist who does not focus on just one instrument but performs on over 60 in many diverse concert settings. He began playing Balkan music in the mid-1970s after falling in love with the music while part of a dance group based in San Jose, California. He began his teaching career giving lessons on tambura at the Mendocino Balkan Music and Dance workshops in 1982 and, to date, he has taught at many workshops around the country. Bill has been the music director of San Francisco-based WestWind International Folk Ensemble, AMAN International Dance Ensemble, Mendocino Folklore Camp, and the San Francisco Kolo Festival. He was the Administrative Director of the East European Folklife Center in the early 1990s. He is currently the director of the San Francisco Kolo Festival.

During the Thursday night Awards Banquet social hour, Bill will be displaying and playing a variety of his unusual and ethnic instruments.

SALLY JENKINS — Making Bobbin Lace

Sally Jenkins is a folk dancer first and foremost, but has a second, sedentary passion for making bobbin lace. Bobbin lace originated in the late 1300’s and blossomed into a major economic enterprise for a few centuries, when fashions changed and technological advances led to availability of cheaper machine-made laces. Today bobbin lace is a leisure-time hobby for thousands of people the world over.

Sally was hooked when a friend encouraged her to attend a local event that included a chance for visitors to try a few sample stitches or rows. In moments, she saw that a single pair of bobbins interacted with each successive pair of bobbins in a row, in much the same way that a dancing couple progresses through a line of other couples at a contra dance! She started taking lessons and now, ten years later, she is teaching beginner classes in bobbin lace-making.

Would you like a chance to try making bobbin lace in a unique way? At the NFO conference, Sally will bring some pre-measured rope and a “way-oversized” pattern. In a process with some similarities to a Maypole Dance, conference attendees will make a piece of Rope Lace, following an actual lace pattern.

MARTIN KOENIG — Dance Workshop

Martin Koenig was born in New York City to parents who emigrated from what was then Poland and is now Ukraine. After graduating from the City University of New York he worked as a teacher in history and dance. In 1965, he and his colleague Ethel Raim set up the Balkan Art Centre, later known as the Centre for Traditional Music and Dance in New York. On one of their visits to Bulgaria, they recorded Valya Balkanska’s song, which was later selected to fly into space on board the Voyager shuttle. Martin is a leading supporter of and advocate for community-based traditional arts and an authority on European ethnic dance traditions.

In mid-September 2019, Martin opened his photo exhibition, entitled “20th Century. Balkan echo. Sounds and Images from Bulgaria,” at the National Art Gallery in Sofia. On the following day, he presented the supplemented bilingual edition of “Voices and Images from Bulgaria,” along with two CDs featuring authentic folklore music. The exhibits and presentations coincided with Koenig receiving the Bulgarian Presidential Medal of Honor for his work to preserve Bulgarian folklore.

Martin will be presented with the National Folk Organization’s Preserving Our Heritage Award at the Conference banquet on Thursday night.

ROBERT LEIBMAN — A Mathematician in Macedonia

Robert “Bob” Leibman began a lifelong interest in ethnic dance in 1961. He has spent considerable research time in villages in Macedonia and East Serbia, last visiting in 2017. Bob is an emeritus professor of Mathematics and also has advanced degrees in Folklore and Mythology. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, and spends his free time reviewing his extensive research film archive, matching the silent film to the sound recordings for eventual distribution to social media.  Bob has an MA in Mathematics and an MA and PhD in Folklore and Mythology.

Robert will present “A Mathematician in Macedonia,” a discussion of his structural analysis of movement characteristics of a particular dance form from three areas of Macedonia.

Robert will be presented with the National Folk Organization’s Preserving Our Heritage Award at the Conference banquet on Thursday night.

DICK OAKES — Locating Folk Dance Resources

Dick Oakes lives in Aurora, Colorado, and is known among many folk dancers for his long history as a folk dance teacher. He was also a performer with various groups, including Southern California’s famed AMAN Folk Ensemble.

His folk dance career, began when he received a scholarship to the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference in 1960; later that year was asked to teach a Folk Dance Federation workshop in Long Beach, California, which was the beginning of his folk dance teaching career. Dick has taught widely in California, around the United States and beyond. The list of dances he has taught is long and varied, ranging from Hungarian to Israeli to Scandinavian, but his specialty was Balkan.  He wrote the chapter on “Yugoslavian Folk Dancing” in Betty Casey’s 1981 book, “International Folk Dancing U.S.A.”

In 2000, when he wanted to create a website to inform folk dancers of the Master Teachers who began the folk dance movement all the way to the present, he established He added articles, resources, information about workshops, camps, coffeehouses, performing groups, and more.  This was transferred to the Folk Dance Federation of California, South in 2018.  The Phantom Rance also included sections on artwork, costumes, dance notes, links to other resources, maps, and much more.

In 2014, Dick received the NFO’s Preserving Our Heritage Award for a lifetime of achievement in folk dance and folk arts, and also the San Antonio Folk Dance Festival National Dance Award in recognition of contributions to folk dancing in Texas and in the United States. He is currently working on the website for the Society of Folk Dance Historians (, having put in more than 2500 hours on the project.

In his presentation at the NFO Conference, Dick intends to talk about how and where to find folk dance-related resources on the internet, what websites to use, and what types of information are available. He will make people aware of all of the resources he’s made available on the Folk Dance Federation, South website — what’s there, how to access it, etc.

He will include other websites as well with a general idea of the types of information these websites might have, and he will have a handout that lists some of the good websites and the types of information to be found on each of them. Finally, he will explain how to evaluate the information found.

FRANCE BOURQUE-MOREAUTeaching folk dance to children and/or beginners

France lives in Montreal and, for the past 45 years, has been active in Canada and abroad teaching folk dances for children and conducting special seminars to train school teachers in this field. Her current repertoire includes hundreds of dances and rounds from all parts of the world especially designed and adapted to various age and experience levels. She is also known for her French-Canadian repertoire which she has introduced at workshops and dance events in North America and abroad. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Preserving Our Legacy Award given by the National Folk Organization (NFO).

France has developed special teaching techniques to introduce basic steps and patterns based on a gradual progression process, combining motor skills, musical and rhythmical notions with a dose of social interaction, multi-cultural awareness and fun. Those same techniques can also be applied to groups of adult beginners.  France will be teaching a 60-minute dance workshop to illustrate her approach and will be happy to answer questions.

YVES MOREAU — Folk dance in Bulgaria, then and now

Yves lives in Montreal and is recognized as one of North America’s foremost exponents of Bulgarian dance and folklore. Since 1967, he has lectured and conducted workshops throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.  In 1980, Bulgaria awarded him with the order of Kiril and Metodi (1st degree) for his work popularizing Bulgarian folk culture in North America. In 2008, he received the Presidential Medal and letter of congratulations from the President of Bulgaria. In 2007, he was awarded the Preserving Our Legacy Award given by the National Folk Organization (NFO). In 2019, he retired from active teaching and now spends much of his time classifying his large archival collection of books, documents and audio-visual material.

Yves has traveled extensively in Bulgaria collecting folk dances and recording  musicians and singers in all regions of the country. He will relate some of his experiences and observations spanning a fifty-year period with anecdotes relating to various events and people including the production of the legendary Red Album.  Yves will also share his thoughts on the evolution of folk dance in Bulgaria from the village to the stage and up to the recent craze for recreational folk dance clubs in Bulgarian cities and within the Bulgarian diaspora.

JANET REINECK — World Dance for Humanity

Susan Janet Reineck studied ballet, performing with the New York City ballet as a child. Janet’s early background in ballet and modern dance led to an interest in ethnic dance during college. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Arts , a Master’s in Dance Ethnology from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley.

She lived in Kosovo (formerly part of Yugoslavia) for eight years doing field research, then aid work. In 2010, Janet set out to combine her background in anthropology, humanitarian aid, and dance, and started a nonprofit, “World Dance for Humanity.” Since 2013, they have been focused on Rwanda. Thanks to an annual grant that covers their modest overhead, 100% of all class proceeds and designated donations go to their work in Rwanda. She will share the vision and mission of World Dance for Humanity during her presentation at the NFO Conference.

Watch a YouTube video about Janet Reineck’s work


Anthony (Tony) Shay, a Los Angeles native, is a professor of dance and cultural studies at Pomona College. He holds a Ph.D. in dance history and theory from the University of California, an MA in anthropology from California State University and an MA in folklore and mythology from UCLA. Shay has authored a number of monographs and books. He is an award winning dancer/choreographer specializing in the dances from Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia and was Artistic director of Aman and Avaz Folk Ensembles.

Tony be presented with the National Folk Organization’s Preserving Our Heritage Award at the Conference banquet on Thursday night.


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