Gypsy Dance Theatre --

Meet the Artists of Gypsy Dance Theatre

Gypsy Dance Theatre - image by Ken Knezick

Gypsy Dance Theatre's First Year at Texas Renaissance Festival - 1999
From left: Tulo, Farasha, Taras, Kira, Vickey Markey, and Bosso Bobbo Levu (RIP)

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Alla - image courtesy of Photography on the Run Alla -- The original "baby" of the troupe, Alla is truly our Gypsy Princess. She was born in the city of Kiev, capitol of the Ukraine, a rich center of tradional culture, art, music, dance, and beauty. In the Ukraine, Alla's talent was identified at an early age, where she was trained by the State to be a singer and performer. Emigrating to the USA, Alla came to Gypsy Dance Theatre at the tender age of 14, a gift we consider to be heaven-sent. It has been a joy to see her grow and mature, both in her art, and as a woman of the world. Here in the USA, she dances with the Uzori Russian Dance Troupe, and also performs as a soloist in clubs and private performances. Alla receives private coaching from Mary Eichnor, who also produces many of Alla's ornately beautiful costumes. Also an accomplished guitarist and vocalist, Alla graces our gypsy camp with authentic gypsy ballads and free form dances at prestissimo tempos. When not living the gypsy life, Alla is a wife, mother, graduate of University of Houston and a school teacher. We are pleased to report that Alla recently gained her American citizenship. Alla's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Farasha Farasha -- Within Gypsy Dance Theatre we call her "Fiery Farasha" for a very good reason. Farasha's intense passion for belly dancing has taken her to Morocco and Egypt, where she studied dance and lived with an Egyptian family in Cairo. Farasha is an excellent choreographer, and maintains a constant performance schedule in night clubs, restaurants, and private parties around Houston. Formerly a principal in Sirrom School of Belly Dance, Farasha teaches classes and dance workshops through the Spring Branch ISD Dance Program, and is active in the Houston Area Belly Dance Association (HABDA). In her "normal life" she is a Licensed Dietitian, and can always be counted on to keep our gypsy camp healthy and well fed. Farasha and her husband Roger live on a farm with horses and a menagerie of other wild animals that keep her well prepared for dealing with the boisterous crowds at "the midnight show." Always living life to the fullest, Farasha is a vital part of the core of Gypsy Dance Theatre. Farasha's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Katia Katia -- Katia is the "new baby" of Gypsy Dance Theatre, bringing fresh energy and enthusiasm to the troupe. Schooled as a fine lady in the court of King Henry VIII, Katia was destined to be a queen. As part of her educational world-tour, the King sent her to an exclusive finishing school in Sevilla, Spain. Unfortunately, when she should have been studying, Katia was more often to be found out drinking, dancing the Flamenco, and cavorting with the powerful Marquis de Villa Sierra. Then one moonless night, the gypsies spied her royal caravan passing through the darkest part of the forest, and they quickly devised some plans of their own for the lovely Princess. Though she was guarded by a phalanx of enormous, scimitar-wielding eunuchs, the gypsies had stealth and wile on their side. They cunningly stole Katia away from her royal life and now are teaching her the ancient and venerable Gypsy ways. Unfortunately, in that process we've discovered that Katia is just so terribly shy! Our only hope is that someday she will grow out of her bashful, restrained demeanor…and when that happens, she's gonna be one heck of money-maker for us! Katia's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Kira Kira -- A core, founding member of Gypsy Dance Theatre, Kira is a consummate professional entertainer. Dancer, singer, drummer, and guitarist, performing either solo or in groups, Kira always adds a special flair to the mix. Her beautiful smile comes straight from the heart, and from her love of the dance in all its myriad forms. In addition to performance as a professional belly dancer and hula dancer, Kira is an instructor at the Sirrom School of Dance, conducts belly dance classes, workshops on veil and sword, and is also an accomplished choreographer. Kira also serves as President of the Houston Area Belly Dance Association (HABDA). Her years of experience and positive attitude have provided a grounding force for Gypsy Dance Theatre from the start, and have enabled us to grow in a healthy and positive fashion. When not in Texas, Kira and her husband Buck enjoy making their home in the mountains of Colorado. Kira's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Nula Luna Nula Luna -- Nula Luna was born at the final stroke of midnight in a tiny village in Rumania...on the night of what should have been the full moon. But the night of her birth, there was no moon, though the sky was absolutely clear and glistening black. The townspeople were superstitious and frightened. They left the tiny girl child on the top of a mountain to die. The gypsies heard of this and rushed to find her. When they got to the top of the mountain the next morning, they found two large wolves, an alpha male and female, curled up together, with the baby snuggled warm and secure between them. The gypsies carefully picked up the baby, named her Nula Luna, and ever since have honored her as one of their own. Nula Luna's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Soraya - image courtesy of Brad Ottosen Soraya -- Soraya comes to us from the country of Colombia. Growing up in a South American culture, rhythm and dance have always been a natural part of her life. As a child she took classes in jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern dance. At the age of seventeen, Soraya joined the Colombian Folkloric Ballet where she trains in Salsa, Cumbia, Samba, Bambuco, Mapale, Vallenato, indigenous tribal dances, and various other Latin/African styles. Keeping her own rich ethnic traditions alive, she now serves as a director of, and featured performer with, the Colombian Folkloric Ballet of Houston. She will next begin Capoeira training to further broaden her dance horizons. With Gypsy Dance Theatre, Soraya creates a unique fusion between Latin and middle eastern dance. She often performs with her pet snake, a balled python named Khaliji. The audience never fails to gasp with excitement when Khaliji rises from her finely woven basket to join in the dance with her mistress Soraya. When not dancing, Soraya is an educator and administrator in the HISD system. Soraya's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Zara - image courtesy of Brad Ottosen Zara -- Zara initially joined forces with Gypsy Dance Theatre to be featured in our evening fire shows, but she has continued on to become an exceptionally valuable and beloved member of our ensemble. In addition to traditional and tribal-styles of belly dance, Zara performs magnificently with sword, fire fans, poi, staff, and hand torches. Further to her skill as a dancer and performer, Zara is a talented chorographer. She quickly learned our group pieces, and is now adding her special touch in the development of new GDT routines. Beyond her considerable dance experience and technical proficiency, it is Bella Zara's playful personality that makes her a standout on our stage. So come to see the fire show, but stay to be captivated by Zara's style...and smile! Zara's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Tsura Tsura --Originally from Central New York State, Tsura began her violin studies at the tender age of four. She graduated Suma Cum Laude from Ithaca College with a degree in Violin Performance and Music Education. Since her college days,Tsura has pursued a wide range of musical genres including Celtic, jazz, Brazilian, blues, pop, Kirtan, and R&B. She has collaborated and performed with many musicians in the Houston area and is frequently featured on local recordings. Her addition to the musical mix of Gypsy Dance Theatre has come as a gift to our performers and audiences alike. Her unique talents and strong sense of harmony are enabling us to venture farther afield with our music. Tsura has composing much new music for Gypsy Dance Theatre, including "Call of the Orb" and "Above the Silk Road." Tsura is also a trained dancer and an accomplished yogini, which has enabled her to take a featured role in Gypsy Dance Theatre's fire shows. Beyond all of her other talents and activities, Tsura is mother to her lovely young daughter Eleanore. Tsura's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Taras Taras -- Terrence Karn has been playing music for dancers and composing for a wide variety of theatrical venues for more than 35 years. His training as a dancer and musician came from the Ali Akbar College, Royal Winnepeg Ballet, Teatro Rue Canada, Childrens Theater of Minneapolis, and through studies with master teachers from around the world. Terrence has performed internationally and most recently composed a piece for Travesty Dance Company in New York. Terrence will again be teaching at Bates Dance Festival and creating new music for internationally acclaimed Artists. He has taught Character dance at the Houston Ballet Academy, the American Russian Cultural Exchange, and was the music director for the University of Houston dance department and the Rice Dance Theatre. Terrence is currently teaching percussion and working in the dance department at University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. He has released five CDs with another on the way. Terrence has worked as a featured musician with a variety of ethnic bands including Houston's own very popular Moodafaruka. Terrence is a featured performer, dancer and musician, as well as, with collaborator Ken Knezick, co-Director of Gypsy Dance Theater. Taras' Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Lucik Lucik -- It has been particularly satisfying to follow the nascent career of the immensely talented Luke Holt. He first came into GDT’s orbit at the age of nine, when his mother brought him to belly dance drumming classes that Taras and Tulo were teaching at the Sirrom School of Dance. It seems that the spark was stuck then and there. Luke received excellent musical training in the Jersey Village school system, playing in concert band and marching band. This prepared him for the highly-regarded music program at University of North Texas, where Luke recently earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with a specialty in world percussion. The fortuitous combination of this extensive musical education with Luke’s strong talent and drive has already made him a superb musician, and a valued member of Gypsy Dance Theatre. In addition to all manner of percussion, he plays piano and has composed a beautiful piece on the African kalimba which is featured on "Into the Light." It will be exciting to see where his career leads, as this is only the beginning for Lucik. Lucik's Photo Gallery

Gypsy Dance Theatre - Tulo Tulo -- Kenneth Knezick began his musical career in adolescence, training as a boy soprano in a program with Westminster Choir College. During his college years he performed with the Rutgers Glee Club and the Rutgers Symphony Chorale, singing on multiple occasions in Carnegie Hall. Running parallel with his classical training, Ken learned the mandolin from his father, Thomas Knezick, and performed in bluegrass and folk music ensembles. Coming to Houston in 1977, Ken began to sing with the Houston Symphony Chorale, and to perform upon the mando-cello with the Houston Balalaika Society, Greg Harbar's Gypsies, and the Ukrainian Dancers of Houston. In 1978, Ken began a prized position as Master of Ceremonies and lead drummer for the Carol Shannon Professional Belly Dance Troupe, serving that role for 19 years until Carol Shannon left the Festival. In 1999, Ken Knezick and Terrance Karn began to assemble the musicians, dancers, and repertoire of Gypsy Dance Theatre, exploring an amalgam of ancient and contemporary rhythms, music, and dance. After a 40-year performance career there, Ken stepped away from the Texas Renaissance Festival. He continues as Gypsy Dance Theatre's Artistic Director. Tulo's Photo Gallery

Experience Gypsy Dance Theatre and let your own gypsy spirit fly free!

When a Gypsy Dreams Disk Imprint
Music CD "After Dark"
Music CD "Into the Light"
DVD Movie "When a Gypsy Dreams"
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Gypsy Dance Theatre -
2915 Manila Ln, Houston, TX 77043
Phone: 281-467-7263 -or- 713-973-9300
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