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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Heritage Awards


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Dan Gorno
2017 awardee, Bellaire (Antrim)
Posthumous award
Traditional percussive and waltz dancing and dance calling


Dan Gorno (1957-2015) was a percussive dancer and dance caller. He was born in Wyandotte but made his home in Bellaire. From an early age, Dan was exposed to and engaged with dance culture in Michigan. His family attended waltz workshops at their local country club and he took traditional dance classes in high school. His passion for dance led him all over to the world. He visited and learned from dancers in Canada, Ireland, France, and South Africa, as well as throughout the United States. After each return, Dan would share all he had learned with his students and community.

Beginning in the 1980s, Dan performed regularly with groups like Step In Time and Dance All Night. By the 1990’s he was recognized as one of the top dancers in the Great Lakes Region, straddling the U.S. and Canadian border. Aside from his passion for dance, Dance was also a skilled potter and musician, selling his creations, teaching pottery workshops, and performing in several dance bands. He was a fixture at Algomatrad Music Camp and Earful of Fiddle Music and Dance Camp and started a twice-monthly square dance at Short’s Brewery in Bellaire which has continued in his absence, giving community members a reason to get together. His legacy lives on in those he taught. His daughter Marlena is a dancer and his son Clayton is a potter. His students perform his choreography and favorite dances regularly.

For his work in the performance and dissemination of traditional percussive waltz dancing and dance calling, Dan Gorno is awarded the Michigan Heritage Award.


-Micah Ling

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