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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, Emily Evans, and Aimee Pelletier-Turner
2017 master artist and apprentice
Chelsea, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti (Washtenaw County)
Traditional percussive dance

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, restaurant work lead to her discovery of 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. She has been involved in Dance Camp (now called Traditional Arts Weekend) in Wheatland for more than twenty-four years, has formed a clogging and fiddling group in the Saline Public Schools, and has taught numerous workshops throughout the region. She served as a MTAAP master artist in 2013 and 2014. This year, Sheila takes on two apprentices.

Emily Evans has been engaged with the performing arts from an early age, having taken tap classes from MTAAP master artist Susan Filipiak beginning in 6th grade. She continued to engage with dance traditions through college, including Irish and ballet, and regularly participates in dances at Powwows. In 2016, she attended Earful of Fiddle Music and Dance Camp as a recipient of the Dan Gorno Memorial Scholarship. Aimee Pelletier-Turner has studied many dance traditions and has been working with Sheila for the past four years. These two women have been attending group classes with Sheila regularly, and have added weekly lessons to further their study, which they will continue through this apprenticeship.

-Micah Ling

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