Martin Koenig



Martin Koenig photo by Matt Lawrence c. 2011

Photo by Matt Lawrence


Martin "Marty" Koenig, a nationally known teacher of Balkan dance, has taught in university and community programs, folk festivals and folk dance clubs, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe since 1966. He is a leading supporter of and advocate for community-based traditional arts and an authority on European ethnic dance traditions.

In 1959, Martin received a B.A. in History from Brooklyn College of New York. From 1962 to 1966, he did graduate work in History, Psychology and Education at City College and Teacher's in New York. He was a Labonotation student of Maria Szentpal, of Budapest, Hungary, from 1967 to 1968, and from 1967 to 1990, was an Effort / Shape Movement Analysis student of Irmgard Bartenieff of the Dance Notation Bureau. Martin worked with Melvene Dyer-Bennet of New York on a Human Motility Study from 1973 to 1979. He has an elementary speaking and reading knowledge of French, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian.

Martin Koenig In 1966, Martin founded the Balkan Arts Center, a.k.a. the Ethnic Folk Arts Center (EFAC), now named Center for Traditional Music and Dance, which is devoted to the research, documentation, and presentation of traditional expressive culture. In 1975, Ethel Raim joined him as Co-Executive and Artistic Director. Their work has included hundreds of concert presentations and workshops and the production of regional music tours, articles, documentary films, video and audio tapes, and LP and CD recordings (including a recording that was placed on the Voyager Spacecraft by Carl Sagan). The Center's calendar included classes in ethnic dance and music, as well as performances, concerts, and festivals. The Center sponsored a Klezmer research project directed by Andy Statman and Zev Feldman that resulted in the 1st Klezmer revival concert in New York City, sold out with standing room only, featuring Dave Tarras and musicians with whom he had played. The Center fostered cross-cultural dialogue and appreciation and helped people understand what pluralism really is all about. The Center has always had the vision to preserve the programs they've sponsored. Under the leadership of Mr. Koenig and Ms. Raim, EFAC became a leading force in the conservation and presentation of traditional dance and music of immigrant ethnic communities in the United States. In 1990, Martin and Ethel assumed the roles of Artistic Directors of EFAC, in order to concentrate on fieldwork and overall organizational leadership through participation in the Board. Martin currently sits on the Center for Traditional Music and Dance's Board of Directors.

Martin's experience in folk dance fieldwork has included extensive research, audio recording, taking hauntingly beautiful photographs, and filming in the Balkans and East Europe between 1966 and 1979. He collected and recorded instrumental and vocal music, ritual and ceremonies of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, and Turkey, filming and photographing dance and aspects of traditional rural life. With funding from the Smithsonian Institution and the International Research and Exchanges Board, he has conducted research on his own, in association with Margaret Mead's Institute for Intercultural Studies and Alan Lomax's Choreometrics Project from 1967 to 1968, during which he filmed and documented traditional and work forms of Romania and Yugoslavia. From 1968 to 1994, he researched and documented expressive traditions of diverse ethnic communities, primarily in the tri-state (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) area. He also worked with ethnic communities in ten other states and Canada, researching and documenting the expressive cultures of a wide range of ethnic communities.

From 1970 to 1972, Martin produced a program of traditional and urban Balkan folk music for WBAI-FM in New York. Martin Koenig

From 1965 to 1970, Martin taught Balkan folk dance at Barnard College, Columbia University, and at Sarah Lawrence College. From 1975 to 1977, Martin was Adjunct Associate Professor fo Balkan folk dance at Hunter College, CUNY, New York. From 1972 to 1973, he taught Balkan folk dance at State University of New York at New Paltz, SUNY, and at Stocton College, Pomona, New Jersey. During a week in January of 1978, he taught Balkand Dance and Traditional Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Martin was Field Researcher for the Smithsonian Institution from 1970 to 1972 and served with Ethel Raim as Field Research and Program Co-Director for Balkan and Slavic Cultures of the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife from 1972 to 1974. A panelist for the Folk Arts and Special Arts Services Programs of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) from 1977 to 1979 and from 1993 to 1994, he was instrumental in establishing the Folk Arts Program at NYSCA and drafting the language for funding guidelines. Martin co-directed the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration.

He has taught Balkan dance in programs at Barnard, Sara Lawrence, and Hunter Colleges, and has given master dance classes at schools and universities throughout the United States, including Holiday Camp and Stockton Folk Dance Camp in California, in Bulgarian, Romanian, and Yugoslavian folk dance.

In 1991, Martin was consultant for "America Dances" for the Public Broadcasting System, Channel 13, in New York.

Moving to Washington State in 1994 he has been a panelist for King County Arts Commission in 1995, from 1999 to 2002, and 2004; Washington State Arts Association in 1995 and 1999; Director / Coordinator for the King County Performance Network from 1997 to 1998; and consultant to the Centrum Foundation in 1997. In 1996, Martin was a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk & Traditional Arts Discipline Review for the Heritage & Preservation, Education & Access, and Planning & Stabilization. In 1999, he was Fund Raiser Director / Coordinator for Vashon Island Growers Association, successfully purchasing Vashon's village green / farmers market for the island community, and was Director of Development for Vashon HouseHold, an affordable housing island agency in from 2001 to 2002, and has been a member of the Island Arts Council. In addition, Martin is the contact for the Vashon Folk Dancers.

In 1999, Martin was emcee and taught folk dances for The Fifth Annual Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert. Ralph Rinzler (1934-1994) was founding director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and worked with a host of musicians and folklorists, doing fieldwork, issuing recordings, and presenting concerts. The concert was curated by Ethel Raim. The 1999 Festival featured the musical traditions of the Balkans and of Mountain Jews from the Eastern Caucasus, and the work of Martin and Ethel.

Martin collected and produced 11 recordings of Bulgarian, Yugoslav, Romanian, and Greek traditional music. He collected and co-produced 4 recordings of Bulgarian, Greek, and Central Asian traditional music. As mentioned above, he also collected and co-produced a Bulgarian recording selected and placed on the Voyager spacecraft as a representation of music from planet Earth.

Many grants were awarded to Martin to allow him to continue to work in his fields of expertise. From 1967 to 1994 he received more than 25 grants, some from the most prestigeous of institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Rockefeller Foundation, the J.P. Morgan Charitable Trust, and the Smithsonian Institution Research Foundation.

In 2012, Close to the Bone: The Balkans, 1962-1987, color photos from the Balkans, was shown at the Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union on Vashon Island, Washington.

Martin's articles and publications include

Recordings in which Martin has been involved in publication include

The films Martin has taken include

Dances Martin has taught include Batovata Bulduzka, Bătută, Brîul pe Opt, Brŭsni Tsŭrvul, Căluşarii, Cuješ Mala, Čekić, Čukanoto, Dobroluško Horo, Elenino Horo, Elhovsko Horo, Gaida Avasi, Gergebunarsko Horo, Hora la Bataie, Horo Čapras, Juta, Negotinka, Nestinarsko Horo, Opas, Ora, Patruša, Petrunino, Pljeskavac, Poloska, Radikalko, Rŭka, Sborinka, Srpkinja, Stara Vlaina, Juta, Todora, Trilişesti, Vinturle Sbat, and Zonaradikos.