The Slavic Folk Ensemble began in 1961 when a group of Russian majors gave a fifteen-minute performance at the University’s Fine Arts Festival. This group, under the name “Russian Dancers”, went on to perform songs and dances from Russia and the Ukraine almost exclusively at Oakland for several years.
In 1970 the “Russian Dancers” expanded themselves by adding songs and dances from Moldavia, Poland and Serbia. They also changed their name to the more appropriate “Slavic Folk Ensemble.” In their expansion effort they began to take their performances outside Oakland University. This they did in subsequent years, delighting audiences in Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, Illinois, Ontario and throughout Michigan.
The Ensemble’s breadth of understanding increased with world travel. In 1973 several members of the group traveled throughout Yugoslavia and attended a workshop on Macedonian dance and culture. Three years later a performing tour of Poland was executed under the sponsorship of Friendship Ambassadors of New York and the Polish government. Then again in 1983 the Ensemble toured and performed in Romania and the Soviet Union. The last performance of the ensemble was in 1993.
Students were responsible for all aspects of the program--choreography, costume design, set design, instrumental music and chorus.
Russian born Dr. Helen Kovach Tarakanov was the advisor and supporter of the Ensemble since the troupe’s beginning in 1961. She was a charter member of the Oakland University faculty, a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures teaching Russian.
Her role as advisor was to encourage and stimulate greater interest in Slavic culture and folklore and through her efforts, the Slavic Folk Ensemble became an accredited course in the Area Studies Department.
Slavic Folk Ensemble Inventory of Materials
1. Binder - Scrapbook (46 inserts containing programs and photographs from 1977-1993)
2. Binder - Slavic dance wear--illustrations of costumes
3. Binder - South Slavic costumes -- illustrations of costumes
4. Binder - The Slavic Almanac, compiled in 1979 by Steve Talan. Includes resource guides; lists of works performed, club officers, club job descriptions.
5. Binder - Financial records.
6. Programs (1974-1987, 1991)
Advertisements and flyers
Choreography Files--dances & steps (
Miscellaneous & Mixed)
Correspondence -- Performance opportunities at festivals & schools
Correspondence -- Prospective shows
Correspondence -- Thank you letters
Costumes Inventory (Costumes sold to Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI in 1993)
Trips -- Poland 1976
Trips -- Soviet Union 1983
Trips -- Bulgaria Trip info
Trips -- Czechoslovakia, Poland, E. Germany, 1989
Trips -- Friendship Ambassadors Foundation
Ukrainian Embroidery Designs and Stitches - book of embroidery patterns.
Folder with country and travel information from the 1980s.
Plaque: Honorable mention--Special recognition award presented to Slavic Folk Ensemble for Most Innovative Program, awarded by Campus Information Programs and Organizations and University Congress, April 8, 1981.
1. Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble with Dunav Ensemble at OU (March 19, 1983)
2. Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble --Eastern Europe (June, 1989)
3. Videotape (VHS) Croatian Songs, Bulgarian, Ukrainian (n.d.)
4. Videotape (VHS) Ukrainian Bread and Salt dance, etc. Songs- Slovenian/Bohemian, Pillow Dance.
5. Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble -- Southfield Civic Center, 1982
6. Videotape (VHS) Tour sample (20 minute) of Russia & Poland
7. Two photographic slide containers with 20 color slides each, 1980
8. Two small wooden plaques with photos of dancers.
8 22"X24" LAMINATED PHOTOS OF PERFORMERS
1 SHEET OF 9 COLOR PHOTOS OF COSTUMED DANCERS.
3 BOXES OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND CONTACT SHEETS (kept with Archives Photographic Collections)
Oakland University, Kresge Library
2200 N Squirrel Rd., Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370 - 4426