Dennis "Tzigané" McDonough



Dennis Tzigané McDonough


Dennis "Tzigané" McDonough was born in Alhambra, California on a hot summer morning and raised alternately in Pasadena and on Paramount's backlot where his step-father worked. Hollywood was kind of in Tzigané's blood.

His mother, who worked at Ryder Sound Services, used to take Tzigané onto television sets such as the "Lassie" show, and his step-dad used to stand with him on Paramount's backlot while Jeff Chandler set fire to wagons on "The Jayhawkers."

Tzigané went to school at the University of California, Berkeley, and obtained a degree in English under Renoir (yes, the grandson of the great painter) who budgeted money so Tzigané could make a short film. The film earned an honorable mention in a Berkeley film festival.

He worked as a software programmer for various companies, then abandoned all to live in Japan for eighteen years. He was the co-founder of a Japanese company, where he wrote software, and he helped start a Japanese trade magazine. He also ghost wrote three textbooks for a Japanese radio personality (who shall remain anonymous).

Tzigané traveled to Yugoslavia in 1962 and 1964, bringing back some Turkish dances that he subsequently taught to his performing group Arac.

Tzigané hasn't danced since 1975, but got a late start in writing instead and made up for time by writing four feature-length screenplays. He then turned one of them (Grail-5) into a novel under a new title (The Turnings of Fire). Tzigané is presently working on several books and a new screenplay.

He has met many wonderful and interesting people along the way and whispers, "I should write a blog about that . . ."

Tzigané taught for two or three years at "The Intersection" Restaurant and Folk Dance Center when it first started up in 1964. He taught at Dani Dassa's place, "Café Danssa," for almost a year. He taught at "Aitos" in Berkeley for about two years and helped David Nadel at the "Ashkenaz" in Berkeley for about a year.

Rusali doing the Kalmyk dance Chichridik

"Rusali" ensemble with Dick Monson, Rick Tejada-Flores, and Tzigané McDonough.
Kalmyk dance "Chichridik"
California Statewide Festival, San Jose, 1964.
(Photo by Ace Smith)

Tzigané's has a famous son, Eugene Tzigané, who is Chief Conductor for the Northwest German Philharmonic (Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie) and has been Principal Guest Conductor for the Pomeranian Philharmonic (Filharmonia Pomorska). Eugene has won the Grand Prize at the 8th International Gregorz Fitelberg Competition (Katowice, Poland), Second Prize at the 4th International Sir Georg Solti Competition (Frankfurt-am-Main), and Second Prize at the 4th International Lovro von Matačić Competition (Zagreb, Croatia).

Dances Tzigané has taught include Čiro, Drmeš iz Zdenčine, Mŭško Trojno, Opas, Siroon Aghcheek, Sokačko Kolo, Syrto/Kalamatiano, and Tsamiko.