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By JOHN PLUCENIK; Times Leader Correspondent

Sunday, February 09, 1997     Page: 2A

WILKES-BARRE -- The graceful leaps of one former Tamburitzan dancer from Wilkes-Barre have been circulated on posters and programs around the world.
    People from Russia to Peru have seen his face and marveled at his internationally acclaimed performances.
    As of today, there will be a name to go with the timeless pictures, in the form of a scholarship endowment to be used for future Tamburitzan performers.
    The Andrew S. Buleza Scholarship Endowment has been established at Duquesne University to commemorate and honor one of the Tamburitzan troupe's best-known members.
    The group's former lead dancer and feature soloist from 1965-1970 will be honored today at Elmer L. Meyers High School. A special cultural program highlighted by a performance from the 37-member Tamburitzan troupe and an appearance by Buleza will begin at 3 p.m.
    A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Today's performance is sponsored by the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, of which Buleza is a member.
    Buleza is one of five Northeastern Pennsylvania natives to have performed with the Tamburitzans. The group has thrilled audiences around the world for 59 years with a combination of Eastern European folk music, songs, dances and elaborate costumes.
    Duquesne University students can qualify for scholarships by earning spots with the troupe, where they become known as "Tammies."
    "The educational opportunities offered at Duquesne are among the finest programs presented in a university community," says Buleza. "The experience offered by the Tamburitzans are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Through the efforts of many people who believed in me, their encouragement and guidance prompted me to audition for the Tammies."
    Buleza remembers auditioning in Vestal, N.Y. along with about a thousand others, hoping to be one of 30 students accepted to the troupe.
    "I was lucky back then to get a full scholarship," Buleza says. "I remember I was sent to the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Theatre to train to be more graceful."
    Buleza's travels with the Tammies took him to every state in the United States; the province of Saskatchewan, Canada; the former Soviet Union and Central and South America.
    While today's group travels to 80 locations throughout the year, Buleza fondly remembers when he first joined in 1965 and experienced a 380-site tour in nine months.
    "One of my greatest memories was performing in Mexico City for the Olympics' closing show," he says of a 1968 performance. "We did a one-hour show with the Charleston and other American dances. We brought the house down."
    Buleza hesitates to compare today's Tammies to those of the past because of the dramatic change in performances and academic demands.
    "We were always out of the university back then," he says. "Now they want to be in the classroom studying and they all have an A or B average."
    And as far as their performing?
    "These kids are excellent," Buleza says. "They are probably more polished than we were."
    Buleza is thrilled that the endowment will enable other young students to enjoy opportunities similar to the one he had.
    "Establishing this scholarship endowment will provide the necessary funds that will benefit another individual to share the Tamburitzan experience," he says. "They will help continue the Tamburitzan legacy that has greatly enriched my life and the lives of so many fellow Tammies."
    When the current scholarship is completed by December 1999, Duquesne University will triple the interest on the endowment for infinity.
    If you would like support the Endowment, please send your contribution to Duquesne University Tamburitzans c/o Colleen Gaughan, 401 Administration Building, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15282-0204.
    Make checks payable to Duquesne University Tamburitzans.
    Wilkes-Barre resident Andrew Buleza will be honored at 3 p.m. today at Elmer J. Meyers High School during a performance by the 37-member Tamburitzan troupe of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. The Andrew S. Buleza Scholarship Endowment will make it possible for other young students to enjoy some of the experiences he had as a member of the Tamburitzans.
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