Your dance leader – Marija Hillis
Marija has been dancing all her life as part of her Slovenian cultural heritage. She has a degree in Dance Education from NYU, although her professional career turned toward Special Education for the last 15 years. Marija has attended Mendocino Folklore Camp for more than 20 years, learning many dances from master teachers.
Before teaching at Berkeley Folk Dancers, Marija performed with Westwind International Folk Ensemble and Jubilee American Dance Theatre, participating in home shows, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, and international dance festivals in Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, Finland, and France. She also danced and sang with a small Westwind group doing school assemblies through the Young Audiences program sponsored by World Arts West. Marija speaks conversational German and Slovenian, and just enough French to get her into trouble.
Marija has been teaching at Berkeley Folk Dancers since 2009. Her passion for sharing the joys of folk dancing inspires and motivates her students to persevere and feel successful. She demonstrates clearly and makes learning new dances accessible by breaking down steps and giving time to practice to promote muscle memory. She has endless patience for struggling new dancers and won’t quit until she sees them smiling.