Ellen Sinatra

by Don Bondi

ELLEN SINATRA has been a leading force in the dance community, contributing her expertise in the field of music for dance as well as her outstanding ability as a dance accompanist and composer.

Ellen was a Senior Musician in the Dance Department at UCLA for nearly thirty years, taught that class at Santa Monica College for over twenty years, taught at Loyola Marymount, and has given many workshops throughout those years.  During that time, she was the music director, accompanist, and composer for the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company for five years and composed music for the Gloria Newman Dance Theater. Her teaching and consulting in dance has been varied, in both the USA and in Finland. In Finland she was involved with the Theatre Academy in Helsinki, the Music for Dance Festival in Kuopio, and the Sports Institute in Lojia. Ellen received her BA in music theory from California State University, Northridge and her MA in Ethnomusicology from UCLA, and she has contributed to and written for many national and international publications in music, ethnomusicology, and music for dance. (See attached list.)

While at UCLA, she taught music to dancers, composed for roughly thirty concerts, and accompanied dance classes, including playing for major guest professional dance artists, including Jose Limon, Daniel Nagrin, Lotte Gossler, Mia Slavenska, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharpe, Gloria Newman, and members of the Martha Graham company.  At Santa Monica College, she has worked with Alma Hawkins, Meri Bender and Linda Gold, accompanying dance classes and improvisational workshops.  Overall, her teaching has included music for dance, world music, music theory, and composing for dance. She also taught in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology, was Publications Director, and organized concerts and lectures for that department.

Currently. Ellen is pursuing a second artistic career in the visual arts, including painting, collage, and installations.


“Music for the Westside Jewish Community Center at Mile 10’, in a larger article edited by Timothy Rice, Music at the 1993 Los Angeles Marathon: An Experiment in Team Fieldwork and Urban Ethnomusicology, in Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, Volume X, ‘Musical Aesthetics and Multiculturalism in Los Angeles, University of California, Los Angeles, 1994

Ballads and Boundaries, Narrative Singing in an Intercultural Context, Proceedings of the 23rd International Ballad Conference of the Commission for Folk Poetry (Society Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore), University of California, Los Angeles, 6/21-24, 1993, James Porter, Editor, Ellen Sinatra, Editorial Assistant, 1995

Folklore and Traditional Music in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Proceedings of a one-day conference at UCLA.  Ellen Sinatra, Asst. Editor, 1997

Papers presented at academic conferences:

Courtly Love in the 90s: Roundtable to CD
Presented at the MAPCA/ACA in West Virginia, 10/27/94

Drums and Mirrors: Reflections of Identity in the Dance Building
Presented at the Dance Ethnology Forum at UCLA, 2/10/95

Moving to the Pagan Sound: Re-Creation of the Celtic Spirit
Presented at the American Folklore Society Conference in Lafayette, Louisiana, 10/13/95

Kulning: “Ancient” Music from the Swedish Mountains
Presented at SEMSCC at  UCLA, 11/95

Updating the Celtic Image: Loreena McKennitt in performance
Presented at the Celtic Studies Conference at UCLA, 4/27/96

Songs Across the Water: Celtic Music on the Radio
Presented for the American Folklore Society Annual Meeting “Locating Celtic Music” Panel in Los Angeles, 10/19/96

Eclectic and Celtic Loreena McKennitt: The Romantic Image Returns to
Popular Music – Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) in Los Angeles, 10/31/96

From Kitchen Table Tradition to Worldbeat: Loreena McKennitt
in Performance – Presented at CSTM/SEM in Toronto, Canada, 11/1/96

Let’s Talk to the Ballad Singers: Margaret Bennett and Norman Kennedy
Presented at the Hoosier Folklore Society Ballad and Folksong Conference,
Terre Haute, Indiana, 12/6/96

From Rap to Tap: The Celtic Boom
Presented at IASPM (the International Association for Popular Music) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10/23/97

Jeannie Robertson to Loreena McKennitt: Weeping Voices go Electric
Presented at the Ballad Conference at UCLA, 2/25/97

Evening Mass at the Iona Abbey: Music on the Move
Presented at SEM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 10/25/97

Scotland’s Singers: Weeping Voices go Electric
Presented at the American Folklore Society meeting in Austin, Texas, 10/30/97

Dance History Project Articles

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Categorized as: ARTIST, Composer, Musician, Teacher/Educator