A blog sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Sharing news and information about the Great Lakes Folk Festival, Quilt Index, the MSU Museum's traditional arts activities, Great Lakes traditional artists and arts resources, and much more. Development of content for this blog supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In Memoriam: Michigan Percussive Dancer, Caller, and Master Potter Dan Gorno

Photo courtesy AlgomaTrad
Daniel Paul Gorno, 58, ended his courageous battle with cancer on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at his brother's house in Kewadin. He was born in Wyandotte, MI, and grew up in Grosse Ile and Rondeau Park, Ontario. The seeds of his creative life were sown at Grosse Ile High School and in the Grosse Ile arts community. He attended Thomas Jefferson College at Grand Valley University studying pottery and kiln building. He chose to further his life-long education by seeking masters from all over the world of various arts and trades including pottery, music, dance, construction, homesteading, horses, and husbandry. These became his skills and trades, which he practiced and taught to others in his short lifetime.

Dan the Potter – He held apprenticeships in Courtmacsherry, Ireland, and LaBorne, France. His wood firing and kiln-building experiences have taken him to Canada, Mississippi, California and back to Michigan.

Dan the Musician – Dan played bones and bodhran and has been a member of bands Tanglemere and New Five Cents.

Dan the Dancer – He has performed traditional dance styles from Ireland, France, England, Canada, South Africa and Appalachia. Since 1980 he performed solo and in the dance groups Step In Time and Dance All Night at events and festivals including Wheatland, Blissfest, Hiawatha and Canadian Celtic Celebration. 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. He leaves a legacy of dance with many, young and old, as a teacher of dance in workshops, schools, and camps. Dan's passion for joy and movement is encompassed in the waltz that he gifted to so many.

Dan the Caller – His most recent livelihood and passion was calling dances – contras, squares, circles and other social dance forms. He was revered by both demanding and advanced dancers looking for a challenge, as well as beginners. He was the official caller at the AlgomaTrad Family Music and Dance Camp in Ontario since 2004 and worked school events, weddings and private parties.

Dan the Traveler – His curiosity for people and places led him all over the world. Which came first his knack for languages or his travels?
Dan lived a life of simple means and rich in friendship. He maintained close ties with high school and college friends, so many in the music and dance communities of Michigan and Canada, those he met on his travels and his large extended family of Gornos and Greens. All have memories of his quick wit and kindness.

Dan leaves behind his cherished family including his children Desire (James) Short of Marquette, and Clayton and Marlena of Bellaire; his parents Dominic and Ginger Gorno of Ft. Myers, FL; brothers Don (Karen) of Brownstown, Greg (Patti) of Elk Rapids, Jim (Connie) of Bellaire, Jeff (Colleen) of Gaylord; sisters Mary (Bob) Keedy of Petoskey, Ruth (Michael) Allen of Traverse City and Dee-Dee of Honor; and 22 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by nephew Peter and grandparents Dominic and Ruth (Joly) Gorno and William and Anna (Schultz) Green.

His funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Bellaire on July 3 at 11:00 am. A Memorial party will be held on August 16 at 1:00 pm at the Alden Depot, Alden, MI. The family is very grateful for the outpouring of love and support from his friends and family. Your words, messages, prayers, gestures and music provided incredible comfort to him during his last weeks. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be directed to the family to disburse according to Dan's wishes.