Mission, History & the Company

The internationally acclaimed Collage is one of Boston’s advocates for multicultural collective expression. Exemplifying  their mission to promote harmony between people from different cultural and social  backgrounds, Ahmet Lüleci integrates Eastern European traditional performance with modern Western techniques.

Collage grew out of Ahmet Luleci's goal of making folk dance and music more accessible and interesting to a general audience. The company presents a range of pieces, from traditional choreographies to more modern interpretations that remain true to the spirit of the dance. Using music that makes people want to jump out of their seats and join the dance, the company showcases the beauty, energy and passion of these neglected dance forms as well as the cultural heritage they represent.

Ahmet made important progress in this goal with Eastern Tides, a piece created for the most recent Boston Moves event, commissioned by Dance Umbrella. His recent works, Balkan Blues, Passing, Duality, Identity, Anatolia and Rituals continues this choreographic direction.When he moved to Boston in the late 1980s, Ahmet founded Turkish traditional dance group called Kemence. As the company became more experienced and more professional, he brought in non-turkish material and ultimately changed the name to Collage Dance Ensemble. Today Collage features 20 + dancers, performing in the US, Canada, and Turkey.

Awards / Grants / Commissions

Crash Arts', Dance Straight up  2006

Crash Arts', Ten's the limit  2005

DRP, Crossing  2005

Crash Arts', Dance Straight up  2004

Golden Karagöz Dance Competition, Bursa, Turkey 2003

Boston Cultural Arts Council grant 2002

Dance Umbrella, Boston Moves 2001

Boston Cultural Arts Council grant 2001

Boston Cultural Arts Council grant 2000

Event of the Year Award, Boston University, Boston, MA 1998

Event of the Year Award, Boston University, Boston, MA 1997

Ahmet Lüleci / Founder - Artistic Director
A native of Turkey, Ahmet is an accomplished choreographer, dance teacher and performer as well as a researcher of Anatolian culture. Collage allows him to further his goal of making folk dance and music accessible to a wider audience. Ahmet was presented with the 2002 Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts & Humanities by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.

His choreography was awarded the gold medal at the Hong Kong Open dance competition in 2004 (performed by Budlet Dance Company) as well as the first prize at the ethnic dance competition in Germany in 2005 (performed by Elvan Dance Company).

Since arriving in North America in 1985, he has taught many workshops and camps throughout the United States as well as Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Holland, England, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Norway, Italy and Australia. He has set innumerable suites of dances for the stage working with dance organizations around the world. Some of the notable performing ensembles with whom he has worked include AMAN of Los Angeles, BYU dancers of Provo, BUDLET of Hong Kong, LES SORTILEGES of Montreal, and VINOK of Edmonton. In his native Turkey, he choreographed for HOYTUR, TURHOY and GEHEM of Ankara, ANADOLU UNIVERSITESI of Eskisehir, BUTFOD of Bursa and FOLKTUR of Istanbul. In 1991 Ahmet joined the Artistic Staff of AMAN as resident choreographer.

Prior to his departure for the US, Ahmet also served as Director of Dances for HOY-TUR, long considered Turkey's leading dance association. Since the age of eight he has danced with numerous school ensembles and private associations, many of which won outstanding awards in city-wide and National-International competitions. Between 1973 and 2003 he participated in International dance festivals & competitions throughout Europe and North America. In edition, him and his ensembles appeared in more than 60 programs broadcast nationally in countries such as Turkey, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan and Germany.

His college major was music, Ahmet's fascination with dance led him to conduct scholarly research into the historical, social and cultural background of the costumes and spoon dances from Turkey's Mediterranean coast. His efforts resulted in an exhaustive, 400 page study for which he was awarded First Place in the 1985 national competition in research on the folkdances of Turkey by the Turkish ministry of Youth, Sports and Education. In 1997 Ahmet completed a second degree in Fine Arts.


Sherene Melania / Associate Artistic Director - Choreographer
Sherene is the Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer of Presidio Dance Theatre & Academy. She holds a B.A. in Performing Arts and Social Justice and University of San Francisco's Dean Medal for Excellence in the Arts; a Certificate for Ballet Direction Specialty and Choreography from the prestigious Saint Petersburg State Conservatory, Russia; and was selected by Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve on the San Francisco Arts Commission, representing the field of dance since 2007.

Sherene is a member of the SF Community Arts, Education, and Cultural Equity Committee, SF Arts Providers Alliance, California Arts Advocates, and International Dance Council UNESCO.  She designed and directs DANCE OUT! Presidio Performing Arts Foundation's free citywide education program offered in the public schools, funded by the California Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts, which was nominated by the Presidio Trust to receive the President's Commission for Arts & Humanities, Coming Up Taller Award.

Trained in classical dance by San Francisco Ballet and Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, DC, Sherene performed principal youth roles with both San Francisco Ballet and Kirov Ballet (on its US national tour), and at 16, participated in the Prix de Lausanne international dance competition, one of twelve to represent the USA. Concurrently, she studied character and international folk dance in the style of Igor Moiseyev. After spending two years in Russia as the student of Kirov Ballet Mistress, Gabriella Komleva, Sherene performed as a guest artist with ballet and folk companies in Russia, France, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, and Switzerland.

As a Choreographer, she has set pieces for dance companies at home and abroad, and presented for the United Nations, International Red Cross, and PBS. She annually presents Winter and Spring Seasons for Presidio Dance Theatre. 2008 live audiences exceeded 40,000 at major venues and festivals including the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, Marin Center, Palace of Fine Arts, Herbst Theater, Davies Symphony Hall, SF City Hall; Saint Petersburg's famed White Nights Festival at the Catherine Palace; and the 300th Anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo International Festival. Her work has been recognized by the press nationally in Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, and internationally broadcast. In 2008, Sherene received a national award from Nickelodeon Television for "Best Artsy Program" in the SF Bay Area.


Elisa Lüleci van Dam  /   Company Manager - Rehearsal Director
Elisa has been performing with various dance ensembles for over 20 years, including 10 years with Mandala, and 14 years with Collage. She is the rehearsal director for Collage, as well as its dancer of longest-standing, costume fixer, publicist, cheer leader, and mediator. Elisa is the Director of Executive Education at Simmons School of Management, and mother to the talented Timo.

 

Erica "Rikki" Nicolae  /  Dance & Rehearsal Director
Rikki has danced with Collage since 2001. First in Boston, where she proudly served not only as performer but also as drill seargent/dance instructor for new Collage recruits. After relocating to San Francisco CA in 2004, she embarked on Ahmet’s project to grow Collage and helped him found CollageWest. She has since served as Dance Director to Collage’s West Coast branch. Rikki’s other dance experiences include dancing with ensemble Naslada in Portland OR, ensemble Ratchenitza in Plovdiv Bulgaria, and WestWind in Berkely, CA. Professionally, Rikki is the Quality System Manager for a Medical Device Company in Sunnyvale, CA, and the mother of a beautiful 1 year old boy.

 

Norma Adjmi  /  Dance Director
Norma grew up in the 1970's in San Francisco where it was possible to folk dance every night. She joined Westwind International Folk Ensemble when she was 18 and eventually served as the Artistic Director for 4 years. She also danced as a soloist with Neva Russian Dance Ensemble. She has studied with various Master Teachers and can transition amongst many different dance styles. She is very excited to be dancing with Collage since this company pulls together so many of her favorite dance styles.

 

Ronit Ronen Tamir / Choreographer
Ronit is a dancer and Dance Educator, holds and BA degree in Dance from the Rubin Academy of music and dance in Jerusalem and a BA in Education from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as an MA in Dance Education from Columbia University NY. Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Studies at Lesley University. Ronit has an extensive dance teaching background with children and adults in Israel as well as in the United States. Ronit has performed with leading Israeli folk dance companies like Karmon Dance Company and "Hora" Jerusalem and around the world.

 

Tugba Önder / Choreographer
Tugba has been dancing with Collage since 2003 and enjoying every moment of it. A native of Turkey, Tugba holds a PhD degree in Neuroscience from Tufts University and now works at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow. When Tugba is not dancing with Collage, she is either running experiments in the laboratory or dancing the Argentine Tango with her husband.

Anna Angelova  
Anna's obsession with dancing led her to Collage, where she found the energy, consistency, and motivation she searched for. Her passion for folk rhythms goes back to her high school years when she performed with the "N. Vaptzarov" Folk Dance Ensemble in her hometown of Cherven briag, Bulgaria.
After obtaining a degree in applied linguistics, Anna flew to Boston to pursue her master's degree in education. Currently, she is enjoying her role as a a special educator in the Boston Public Schools.

Mustafa Bakir
Mustafa is from Kütahya, Turkey. He has a B.A. in Math education. He worked as a Math teacher in Turkey. After he was honored with a scholarship from Turkish Government, he came to US in order to get masters in Math education

Gina Brignetti
Gina started dancing at the age of seven, after recieving a full scholarship from the San Francisco Ballet School. A year later, she was recognized by Presidio Dance Theatre, as a talented and dedicated student. She was awarded full scholarship to train and perform with the youth company . For the past nine years, Gina has been dancing with PDT. She has been featured in annual venues including the Palace of Fine Arts, Herbst Theater, and SF War Memorial Opera House. Gina has also performed for special events including the International Red Cross and United Nations International Day of Peace. Gina is currently a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California.

Vadim Dribinsky
Vadim is originally from Ukraine. He is a senior software engineer. He got his bachelor's degree in Physics at MIT and his Masters at Brandeis. He started dancing in 2000. He also participates in Russian Intellectual Club Games. He has been with Collage since 2004 and is loving every minute of it.

ErmanMehmet Erman Kirtan
Mehmet Erman Kirtan is from Gaziantep, in southern Turkey. He started dancing at the age of 6 and it has been part of his life ever since. He has BA degrees in Structural Engineering and Management. In addition he holds master degrees in engineering and business administration. He currently works as a project estimator.


Timo van Dam
Lüleci
Timo has been a member of Collage since he was born. He never misses any rehearsals, and is in charge of the dressing room areas during all shows. He loves improvisational dancing, and his goal is to be a soloist/lead dancer of the company, and eventually, its leader. He recentley has started performing with the group as well.

Alexis Maharam started dancing with Collage about a year ago. She spent 4 years performing with BU on Tap, Boston University's student run tap dance ensemble, while completing a BA in economics and statistics. Since arriving in Boston, she has performed with several local Israeli dance troupes, which led her to Collage. Alexis is currently working as a product analyst for an auto insurance company downtown. She loves the new challenges Collage brings to her dancing and promises to learn more Turkish one day soon.

Norberto Martinez
Norberto graduated from Instituto Mexicano de Artes and Instituto de las Bellas Artes of Mérida, Yucatán in Mexico, trained in classical ballet, folk, and modern dance. He developed a deep desire to promote the “magic” of the Mexican culture through dance, as an artist of Jorge Faz Dance Company and Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Yucatán for more than 15 years. He has had more than twenty years of experience performing, as well as choreographing for respected dance organizations throughout Mexico, South America, Europe and the United States of America. He is a principal artist and resident choreographer with Presidio Dance Theatre. He is DANCE OUT!'s lead teacher in Presidio Performing Arts Foundation's afterschool outreach program for underserved children. Norberto also shares his passion for folk dance as an instructor at the Mission Cultural Center’s dance program and at Danzantes Unidos workshops. In 2007, Norberto's company, Folklorico Atlatonin, represented the dances of Mexico in China during the Beijing International Cultural and Tourism Festival. In 2009, he performed soloist roles in The Nutcracker with Peninsula Ballet and Oakland Ballet.

Hilda Fernandez Morales
Hilda Fernandez-Morales is a Mexican folkloric dancer by training and has danced in several folkloric companies throughout California and Texas. She is an English Instructor at Chabot College in Hayward and holds her BA and MA in Literature. Hilda has been dancing with Collage since Fall 2009 and is passionate about tapping into other dance forms.

Alberto Morales
Alberto Morales is a Mexican folkloric dancer by training and has danced and directed in several folkloric companies throughout California and Texas. He serves as a police officer and military commander in his "off-dance" time and is simply enthused to envelop himself within new and exciting dance disciplines. Alberto holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and and MS in Environmental Science. He has been dancing with Collage since Fall 2009.

KarenKaren Oakley
Karen started her performing arts career after retiring at the age of 15 ½ as a USGF (Class I competitive) artistic gymnast for the Fresno Gymnastic Club when she became a songleader for Clovis West High School. Her rigorous training in gymnastics included ballet twice weekly in the Russian Vaganova technique. She competed in 2 Far West International Invitational competitions and was 2nd All-around in the 1981 high school championships. Karen continued her study of dance in Horton, Dunham, and Limon techniques at Stanford University while obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Karen has been a company member of Westwind International Folk Ensemble for 15 years and has been a company member of Neva’ Russian Dance Ensemble for 16 years. Most recently she has begun learning and performing Caribbean traditional and contemporary dance with choreographers from the Jamaican National Ballet Company in Kingston, Jamaica and traditional Polish dance with Lowiczanie Polish Dance Ensemble of San Francisco, CA. Karen has performed in numerouos venues throughout the world including the Hollywood Bowl, Panama City in Florida, the Zellerbach in Berkeley, the Russian Center of SF, and several International Festivals throughout Eastern Europe.

TanerTaner Oktar
Taner was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1976. He graduated with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University in 1998. He then completed his master's studies in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Management and Information Systems at Northeastern University, in 2000 and 2003, respectively. He is currently working in a software company. He danced tango for one and a half years before he joined Collage in the fall of 2006.

Hasan Kayhan Özcimder
Kayhan is from Ankara, Turkey. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Now he is advancing his career in the States. Kayhan adores dancing and loves every kind of music. He started dancing with Collage in September, 2008 and is glad to be a new member. It will help him using skills for achieving a goal.

Seher Saadat
Seher has been dancing for several years with local Boston dance groups. She founded a local Kurdish dance group, Ronak, in 2004 and continued to teach Kurdish and Persian dance workshops in the community and schools. Aside from dancing, she enjoys painting, hiking, and traveling. She is an electrical engineer who holds an MBA in public and nonprofit management. She is currently a free lance consultant. Her professional interests are Corporate Social Responsibility and disaster and relief management.

BegumBegüm Tasar
Begum was born in Ankara, Turkey. Begum's artistic career started at a young age dancing to the jingles of TV commercials; her grandma used to say, "she would dance to a door squeaking". She became interested in Latin dances when she moved to Boston for her postgraduate studies in 1997 and recently completed her MBA at Boston College. She has been working as the controller of an architectural design firm and enjoys the combination of balancing books and perfecting her balance at Collage.

cerenCeren Yalin
Ceren Yalin was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, where she pursued her passion for dance to the point of changing her career and moving overseas. She joined Collage in 2010 when she started working at Fred Astaire Dance Studios as a ballroom dance teacher. In addition to her six years of teaching, choreographing and performing latin dances at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Ceren enjoys a wide variety of dance styles including ballet, contemporary, Turkish fok dance, flamenco, hip hop and bellydance.

Dancers Emeritus


  AnnBikem

Auditions

Collage generally holds open auditions at the beginning of
the dance season, in late August or early September.

If you are interested in being notified of the date of our next audition,
or if you would like to discuss a private audition, please contact
Ahmet Luleci
at 857-234-0400 or info@collageusa.org