Summary Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections
Slavic Folk Ensemble records
Date [inclusive]
6.0 Linear feet

Preferred Citation

Item, folder title, box no., Slavic Folk Ensemble records, Oakland University Archives.

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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.

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.

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

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Scope and Contents note

The records of the Slavic FolK Ensemble include correspondence, financial records and other internal documentation about the performances and trips of the ensemble. Of particular note are illustrations for Slavic costumes. Also noteworthy are numerous photographs and recordings of their performances.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections

Kresge Library
100 Library Drive
Rochester, MI, 48309

Access and Use Note

The records of the Slavic Folk Ensemble are open for research.


Copyright held by Oakland University. The department records include occasional materials such as photographs produced by outside parties. Copyright to these items may be held by the original creators.


Inventoried by Linda Hildebrand

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Collection Inventory

Box 1 


Binder - Scrapbook 1977-1993   46 inserts containing programs and photographs

Binder - Slavic dance wear--illustrations of costumes 

Binder - South Slavic costumes -- illustrations of costumes 

Binder - The Slavic Almanac, compiled in 1979 by Steve Talan. 1979   Includes resource guides; lists of works performed, club officers, club job descriptions.

Binder - Financial records. 

Programs 1974-1987, 1991 

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Box 2 


Advertisements and flyers 

Choreography Files--dances & steps 

Scope and Contents note

Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Macedonian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Miscellaneous & Mixed


Correspondence -- Performance opportunities at festivals & schools 

Correspondence -- Prospective shows 

Correspondence -- Thank you letters 

Costumes Inventory 1993 

Scope and Contents note

Costumes sold to Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI in 1993.

Donor files 


News Clippings 


T-shirt design 

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

Country and travel information 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. April 8, 1981 

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Box 3 


Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble with Dunav Ensemble at OU March 19, 1983 

Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble --Eastern Europe June, 1989 

Videotape (VHS) Croatian Songs, Bulgarian, Ukrainian  (n.d.) 

Videotape (VHS) Ukrainian Bread and Salt dance, etc. Songs- Slovenian/Bohemian, Pillow Dance. 

Videotape (VHS) Slavic Folk Ensemble -- Southfield Civic Center 1982 

Videotape (VHS) Tour sample (20 minute) of Russia & Poland 

Two photographic slide containers with 20 color slides each 1980 

Two small wooden plaques with photos of dancers 

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8 22"X24" laminated photos of performers 

1 sheet of 9 color photos of costumed dancers 

boxes of photos and contact sheets 

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