About Us

František Bonuš, one of the world’s leading experts in both historical dances and dances of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was Professor of Dance and Dance Education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.

Born in České Budějovice, he studied at Charles University in Prague from which he received degrees in Music Education, French, German, and Physical Education. He began his teaching career as a lecturer at Charles University in its Education Department in 1948, teaching music, movement, and physical education. In 1954 he was named Professor at the Prague Conservatory. He was founder of the dance section of the Center of Folk Arts. In 1957 he was also named Professor of Music at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, attaining the status of Professor Emeritus in 1986.

Professor Bonuš authored many articles, textbooks, and other publications on folk and historic dances. He conducted extensive dance research in several countries, including his native Czechoslovakia. A well-known and highly respected choreographer, he led seminars and choreographed works throughout Europe and North America. Besides his rigorous teaching and consulting schedule, he hosted a regular radio broadcast on folk and historical dance and music and contributed to television programming.

Professor Bonuš taught, choreographed, and served on international juries in more than 14 countries, where he taught many young people the dances that appear in The Golden Gate Is Open.

Dr. Edward J. P. O’Connor is Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut where he taught music education and world music. He has presented a number of papers at state, regional, national, and international conferences on various aspects of teaching world music and dance. His research specialization is the music and folk dances of the Czech and Slovak Republics, where he did field research under an International Research and Exchanges Board fellowship in 1988 and on other trips. He is co-author of the article, “Czech Republic and Slovakia,” (with Magda Ferl Želinská) in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Europe, Vol. 8. After the death of Prof. Bonuš, Dr. O’Connor oversaw the completion of The Golden Gate Is Open.

Živana Vajsarová is artistic director of the folk dance group, JARO, which is featured in The Golden Gate Is Open. The ensemble has toured internationally, including Japan. Živana Vajsarová completed her studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She is a seminar lecturer at the dance conservatory of Prague, specializing in Bohemian and Moravian dances. She is frequently invited as a guest teacher to international folk and historical dance seminars in Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic.

The late Jasan Bonuš was director of the production company DVORANA that completed the filming of the video for “The Golden Gate Is Open.”

The Dancers: Members of the Czech Dance Ensemble JARO from Prague, Artistic Director Živana Vajsarová.

The Musicians:

  • The JARA Folk Band from Prague, led by Karel Mezera
  • The Folk-Instrument Group of the Czechoslovak State Folk Ballet, led by Miroslav Král
  • The “Technik” Cimbalom Band, Artistic Director Jan Rokyta
  • The Rožmberk Band, Artistic Director František Pok

The Singers:

  • Members of the Kühn Children’s Choir in Prague, conductor Jiří Chvála
  • Jiří Janoušek’s Female Chamber Choir