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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 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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Sheila Ruby Graziano and Alina Soltis
2014 master artist and apprentice
Chelsea and Saline (Washtenaw County)
clogging and traditional step dancing

Sheila Ruby Graziano began dancing at the Shirley St. Mary School of Dance in Detroit where she was introduced to many different aspects of tap. She made her TV debut on a local talent show, Starlit Stairway, in the mid-1960s. At Cass Technical High School, she enrolled in the performing arts curriculum and took modern dance but found it to be not as much to her liking because she missed the “percussive beats and the more aggressive nature of tapping.” In 1976, she was introduced to traditional step dancing when the natural foods restaurant she was working sold concessions at a music festival. The music and dance she experienced at this festival changed her life. After some searching, she connected with cloggers in the metro Detroit area and eventually formed her first clogging group, The Crosstown Cloggers. As of 2014, she has been involved in Dance Camp (now called Traditional Arts Weekend) in Remus, Michigan, through the Wheatland Music Organization. She has formed a clogging and fiddling group in the Saline Public Schools, and has taught numerous workshops throughout the region.

Alina Soltis is a member of Fiddlers ReStrung, a music and dance program for young people in the Saline area. Her first experience with dance was in early childhood. For many years she participated in Lithuanian folk dancing every Saturday morning. Now, her interests have grown to include multiple forms of percussive dance such as clogging and traditional step dancing. Alina has been working with Sheila for three years, and is looking forward to continuing this partnership.

-Mary Worrall and Micah Ling

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