Brigitt Mayer-Karakis, who was born in Germany and has a background in music, competitive gymnastics and dance (ballet), started ballroom dancing as an amateur at age 16. She became German Vice champion in Latin, a German Ten Dance finalist and a finalist in the European and World Amateur Championships, as well a winning the World Championship in Formation dance.
She started her professional life as a photographer and gymnastics teacher, and became a professional ballroom dancer in 1988. In 1991 she moved to Canada and began to represent her new home country on the world stage of dancing. She came second in the World Latin-American Show Dance Championship, second in the World Open Exhibition Championship, and second in the British Open Rising Star Championship.
Due to her innovative and creative approach to ballroom dancing, she received an invitation to perform “Duel of the Giants” at Royal Albert Hall in London, England in 1998. This was only one of many invitations from all over the world. In 2000 she received the CAN-AM DanceSport Special Achievement Award in Toronto for her contribution to ballroom dancing.
Brigitt is a highly commended member of the Canadian Dancers Federation, and the British Dancers Federation International. She is a World Championships judge, and is also affiliated with Arthur Murray International Inc.
After travelling for years with show engagements, and residing for the most part in Europe, Brigitt returned to Canada. She continues to travel extensively as a World Championship judge and coach. She was also a performance critic for numerous dance publications.
She and her family reside in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, from where she continues
to contribute to the ever-growing ballroom dancing industry through her extensive
knowledge and expertise.
U.H. Mayer discovered his love for photography in his childhood. He thinks perhaps his father's magazines, the Kosmos, with the beautiful photography, might have been the motivating source.
Ulrich Hans is his full first name, but he is known in German photography circles as U.H. He was born in 1930 in Reutlingen (Swabia) close to Stuttgart. He took his first pictures at age 13 with his father's old plate-camera, and soon the family's bathroom was turned into a darkroom.
During the Second World War, schools were closed, and every young many had to do some work to get a food ticket, a ration book. Ulrich met his future employer Peter Dohm by chance on the street and asked him for a job at his photography store that was highly frequented at that time by soldiers of the occupation forces. He got the job and stayed for six years. After the war he did his apprenticeship there and eventually went to all events for Dohm or the local newspaper as Dohm's photographer.
In 1952, with his photo expose, he applied for enrolment into the Bavarian Institute for Photography and was accepted into the second year. Hanna Seewald, Rudolf Muller-Schonhausen and Hans Schreiner were his teachers.
Ulrich went to Dusseldorf where he worked for Photo Tucht. There he met his future wife Eva Maria Baurose, who also worked in the trade. After some time he found a partner and took his first steps towards self-employment. Eventually he founded his own photo studio in 1960 and got his master's degree as Best Master of Photography that same year.
His first commissioned work was for the steel, glass and plastics industries and soon he had commissions from the electronic, cosmetic and chemical industries. Work followed for publications about art dealers, Italian string instruments and musicians.
He received a gold medal from Photo magazine and was called in the Society of Freelance Photographers. Michael Tafelmair, editor in chief for Color-Foto wrote, “U.H. Mahyer is one of the few industrial photographers whose pictures go beyond their intended informative content and show creative and esthetic qualities that speak of an artistic mind.”
Ulrich's work has taken him around the world and into circumstances that were often extremely challenging, in particular in the former USSR and other eastern destinations. The biggest industrial, chemical and pharmaceutical “giants” like BASF commissioned him, along with Bayer, Boehringer/Manheim, Ford, IBM and Nixdorf to name a few. He had group and solo exhibitions and as another highlight got called into the German Society of Photography for his life's work.
Ulrich never thinks of his profession as “work.”
“I didn't ‘work’ ever in my life, I just had the most beautiful and challenging 'paid for' hobby one can think of,” he says. “Can you think of anything better for your life?”