We first became interested in dances from southeastern Europe in the 1980s and this led us make numerous trips to southeastern Europe travelling throughout Romania and Bulgaria, and more recently Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, attending many dance workshops and undertaking ethnographical research into dance, music, costume and customs in the area.
Since 1999 we have hosted the web site www.eliznik.org.uk/ which is an internationally recognised English language website covering Romanian, Bulgarian (and southeast European) dance, ethnography, music, and costume.
We both starting dancing when young. Prior to becoming interested in southeastern European dances, Liz had a background in ballet and stage dance and Nick in English folk and morris dance. In the past we taught Bulgarian and Romanian dances for the Society for International Folk Dancing (SIFD) and Imperial School of Teachers of Dance (ISTD), provided advice regarding the restructuring of the ISTD Bulgarian syllabus in the mid 1990s, and have published booklets on Romania and Bulgaria to complement the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD) national syllabus and Society for International Folk Dance (SIFD) silver badges syllabus.
In the early 1990s, we joined a Romanian dance group in London that had been established by dancers from Bucharest who remained in the United Kingdom following a tour by their dance group. This involvement in performing Romanian dances gave us an introduction to the wide range of different ethnographic regions with distinctive styles of music and dance in Romania. During the following fifteen years we regularly travelled to Romania attending dance seminars in major cities and making contact with dancers from all over the country.
Over the years we have performed dances with the London “Mărțișorul” Romanian group, “Sonce” Macedonian group, “Balaton” Hungarian group, “Sborenka” Balkan group and “Tanec” London Bulgarian ensemble, and more recently with Scoala de dans popular “Maria si Marius Ursu”. For around twenty years Nick led the “Vupros” Balkan folk music group.
Since 2005 our interested has been focused on the Banat region following a visit to Timișoara for the annual international Festival of the Hearts (Festivalul Inimilor) and choreographic seminar. Over the past 12 years this has enabled us to gain a more detailed understanding of the dance forms from many experts from ensembles from most regions of Romania.
In the mid 2000s we both changed course to follow a second career in academia. Liz completed a MA in Central and South East European studies (2006) at University College London (UCL) School of Slavonic and East European Studies during which she studied the anthropology of southeastern Europe and Romanian language (focus on reading skills for academia). Her dissertation looked at the reasons why Romanian and non Romanians chose to participate in Romanian dancing in the UK. After completion of her MA she commenced a PhD at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies which was an anthropological study of folk dancers lives in Ensemble Timișul, in Timișoara entitled ‘Dancing through the city and beyond : Lives, movements and performances in a Romanian urban folk ensemble’ which she completed in 2013. Since that time she has been working as an independent academic researcher on projects investigating social dance, cultural events and choreographic practices in the Banat region of Romania, and dance connections between the Balkans and the UK.
Nick completed an MA in Dance Studies at De Montfort University in Leicester in 2011. His dissertation was entitled “Dance practices in Banat: mountain village dances in the urban context”. He now also continues as an independent researcher investigating Romanian social dance practices within the southeastern European context, and is interested in traditional dance as a community behaviour in the present, and dance analysis as an understanding of local ways of moving.
We are both active members of the International Council of Traditional Music (ICTM), and in particular the ICTM Study groups on ethnochoreology, and music and dance in southeastern Europe. Liz has been the secretary for the Study Group on music and dance in south east Europe since 2010. We both regularly present papers on Romanian dance and anthropology at academic conferences, and continue to be part of the small team of researchers representing Romania in the International Council of Traditional Music academic community working closely with colleagues representing academic institutions in other countries of southeastern Europe and beyond.
In 2012 we were awarded a Diploma of Excellence from the Mayor of Timișoara in respect of their work in promoting Romanian, and particularly Banat, folklore.
Contact: info (that @ symbol) eliznik.org.uk/