Chronicle 2013

Chronicle 2012

A Russian Christmas in January

At the invitation of Tatiana Antonova, president of Onego Wave Dancers, in early January, the Finnish Caller Kaj Wikholm accompanied by a busload of dancers of DUF Square Dancers from Vantaa / Finland, Helmar from Munich, as well as many Russian dancers travelled to snowy Petrozavodsk. The Russian Christmas was celebrated with a little special on January 6th. Kaj managed the evening with sovereignty and also offered Fedor and Sasha the opportunity to prove themselves. Dancing was from Basic to A2, and Russian dancers, especially the dancers from Kaliningrad which have not yet been graduated, could get a little insight into higher levels. The evening was brought to an end with an after party at the bar of Akvatika, where, in the lovely bright and modern premises, the regular club nights are held. Helmar brought some Christmas cookies and especially the real German Mulled wine found a great resonance among the guests. A traditional Christmas presentation of our hosts rounded off the perfect evening.

For many of the Finnish guests, this was their first visit to Russia and all agreed to try to come back more often. The Russian dancers have visited the traditional November Specials in Vantaa many times before, and this was an important step to the rapprochement between the two groups. After a little sightseeing in Petrozavodsk and an extensive vodka and shampanskoye buying tour at the local supermarket, the guests drove back towards home, and had a stop in St. Petersburg. On this occasion Kaj was committed to call at the 3rd Golden Autumn in September.

Russian representative in the EAASDC Board in May 2012

The president of the EAASDC announced in the May issue of the bulletin that pursuant to GO.II.5.1 Olga Kravchenko from Kaliningrad had been appointed to the Board as the national representative for Russia. With the active support of Traudel and Eberhard Walz the Russian EAASDC member clubs have approved the appointment of Olga. This marks another important step for the positive development of the Square Dance in Russia.

Graduation and 5th anniversary in Murmansk

On Saturday, May 26th, the Polar Light Dancers graduated six dancers (Valentina Lyutkevich, Vera Uvarova, Victor Laptev, Natalia Godorosha, Magarita Golovina und Olga Kravchenko), and celebrated on Sunday, May 27th, their 5th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of the German-Russian Centre Murmansk. A fantastic performance of Olga Lyutkevich president of the Polar Light Dancers and her team. Together with callers Uli Schingen and Eberhard Walz 24 dancers from Germany, 16 from Petrozavodsk, 2 from Pskov, and Olga from Kaliningrad had come, who was graduated at this occasion.

The Murmansk club has traditionally prepared everything to everybody's satisfaction. On Friday Nadja accompanied the German guests on a guided tour. This included the visit of Alyosha, the imposing monument of the defenders of the polar region, and the first nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin. In the afternoon, and on the following Saturday Eberhard Walz and Uli Schingen led a Caller Training and were supported by some of the German dancers.

Uli Schingen called at the anniversary celebration, and was supported by Eberhard Walz, with whom he called a great duet. Even the Russian callers Anna Mokhvina, Natalia Godorosha, Olga Lyutkevich from Murmansk, Nikolai Kuznetsov, Tatyana Antonova and Svetlana Markova from Petrozavodsk, Elena Nazarova from Pskov and Olga Kravchenko from Kaliningrad had the opportunity to demonstrate the progress they made. Svetlana Markova from Petrozavodsk accompanied with her beautiful, soft voice, Eberhard who was singing a patter call to a Russian folk song. What an experience!

During an longer break representives of different ethnical groups entertained us with traditional songs and dances (e.g. belly dancing). There was also a very funny sketch performed by the dancers from Murmansk in traditional Bavarian outfit to a song called "Isabella".

Since we got no permission by the officials to visit the town of Severmorsk, our hosts instantly organised a bus tour to the indigene tribe of Sami. This was highly appreciated by all participants.

On the last day before the German group had to leave we visited the Heritage Museum and the local aquarium.

(Ursula Kreis, GRSDF)

1st Graduation in Kaliningrad

Report to follow

 

 

Callers from Germany, Finnland, Sveden, Switzerland, Czech Republic and USA are supporting the new Square Dance movement in Russia

First of all we would like to name Kenny Reese who has devoted himself to square dance in Russia with great enthusiasm and remains both for Russian dancers and for us unforgettable. There were already two clubs in Petrozavodsk and in Pskov, when Kenny came for the first time to St. Petersburg. Finally the spark jumped over here too when the English teacher Svetlana Stern was willing to take over leadership. Kenny Reese had called the first Golden Autumn in 2008, a very remarkable special dance in St. Petersburg. Once again Kenny was planning a caller seminar in 2011, but his doctors didn't allow him the long journey. During Student Jamboree 2011 Kenny was still full of confidence, and even promised to call at the 10th Fundraiser special dance of the GRSDF. But fate decided otherwise. The GRSDF Association owes Kenny very much.

Uli Schingen is the next fan of Russia, who together with Moni feels like home at the first four clubs. No matter whether they come to the Polar Light Dancers in Murmansk, to the Onego Wave Dancers in Petrozavodsk, to the Sunday Smiling Squares in Pskov or to the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg, they are loved by all and are one of them.

The third member in this party is Tomáš Machalík ftom Czech Republic, who travelled 2011 for the second time to Russia and visited there the clubs in Petrozavodsk, Pskov and St. Petersburg. Tomáš sent the GRSDF a report about his experiences. He thinks there is still much work to do in Russia.

We are aware of these problems and continue to work on solutions. The GRSDF Association was founded solely for this purpose.

Lothar Weidich and hie wife Uschi drove twice by car to Kaliningrad to support and to make progress with the new square dance group in the German-Russian House, which is led by Olga Kravchenko.

From USA caller coach Ken Ritucci is expected in 2012 for the second time in Russia. In 2009 he covered all expenses for two new collers, Elena Nazarova and Fedor Antonov, so that they could visit his school in the USA. Last year he also financed a considerable part of the expenses of his trip to St. Petersburg himself.

Jeannette Stäuble from Switherland followed his example and travelled to her caller student Alsu Alyusheva in Moscow and to have a Basic workshop and Basic graduation at the Moscow Red Squares there. The GRSDF are totally overwhelmed by the enormous commitment.

As a companion for the group tours to Russia we would like to mention the following callers: Martin Kromer (1993), Bernhard Schlipf (2002 & 2007), Johannes Pfeiffer (2004 & 2007), Volker Richter (2004), Volkmar Junge (2007), Michael Mühlhauer (2010) and Walter Derro (2011).

Hanna Tenenbaum, together with Mats Nilsson and Lars Olofsson from Sweden will visit Petrozavodsk and St. Petersburg in June, while Kaj Wikholm from Finland will call at the 3rd Golden Autumn in St. Petersburg in June this year. We wish to thank all these callers and to express them our deep appreciation. We hope we mentioned them all and didn't forgot anybody.

Last but not least we would like to mention Eberhard Walz, who travelled on behalf of square dance 30 times on own expense to Russia. He started learning calling back in 1994 for the sole purpose to introduce square dance in Russia. The road was long, but it was worth it! In June 2012 he finally was able to start in Kaliningrad, the former Königsberg, the 5th Russian club, The Koenigsberg Happy Cats. He was accompanied by some of his long time angels e.g. Dolly Weltin from Zurich, and Königsberg born Dora Christoffers Aurich.

(Traudel Walz for the 2012/06 issue of ECTA News)

We welcome our 100th member

In June 2012 we were happy to welcome Monika Moni Dotzauer as our 100th member.

Caller school in Petrozavodsk

At the proposal and initiative of Tatiana Antonova, the president of the Onego Wave Dancers, a caller school with Ken Ritucci was organised. Here is her report:

 

From September 20th to 23rd a caller school in Petrozavodsk took place. It was the third, after the first one in 2008 by Uli Schingen and in 2009 by Tomáš Doug Machalík (CZ). This time the coach was Ken Ritucci (USA), and 14 student callers from all Russian clubs came to Petrozavodsk.

Each day classes went on for 8 hours with a one hour dinner break and some coffee breaks in between.

The youngest caller was 14 year old Victor who has a beautiful voice and came from the youngest but very energetic and enthusiastic club in Kaliningrad. Two beginner callers Tatiana and Anatol from the same club were determined to learn the art of calling.

Callers Larisa and Sergei from St. Petersburg, Anna and Olga from Murmansk, and Svetlana, Nikolai, Sasha and Fedor from Petrozavodsk already knew each other quite well and had attended the previous seminars in Russia. Ken Ritucci appreciated the progress the more experienced callers made since the last year's caller school in St. Petersburg and the good understanding of the material by the all new callers.

We were all very happy to welcome Alsu, Natalia and the dancers from Moscow who visited our club for the very first time. Natasha said, she had a feeling as if something important was happening - the history of the Russian Square Dance reached an important step and we all witnessed it. Another important step in Russian square dance history will be the first square dance club in Moscow, which is the heart of Russia. We are all looking forward to it.

Today, after two weeks have passed and all emotions settled down I can say: Yes, that's true! The caller school was a big success!

Ken Ritucci's enthusiasm is infectious and he managed to create a very friendly, exciting and warm atmosphere thanks to his personality. It was not just a group of people learning together but a team of co-workers, forged together by a thread of friendship! This thread is the result of the efforts of all square dance instructors who have worked with Russian callers until now!

The round table talk showed that callers understood now they must work hard, and join their forces, and everybody felt honored when Ken Ritucci suggested to come back next year to continue teaching.

Looking back to 2006, when our club only danced to calls from CD's or records and see how things have changed, I can’t believe this can be true! With Fedor and Sasha we now have two callers who are doing pretty well, and with Svetlana and Nikolai we even have two more new callers whose progress is noticeable.

Now our life has become more interesting and we have fun at dance parties with guests from other Russian clubs. Our traditional Christmas Party is appreciated not only by our own dancers, but by many dancers from Murmansk and St. Petersburg too. On January 6th & 7th we had a Christmas party with caller Kaj Wikholm and 10 other dancers from Finland, who were joined by Russian dancers from St. Petersburg, Murmansk and Kaliningrad. In the end of June we danced to callers Hanna, Mats and Lars and with their dancers from Energy Squares and Sjobo Bears from Sweden, who on their way back home visited St. Petersburg and had a lot of fun there too!

Our two other traditional Dances are Maslennitsa Dance (week of pancakes) - of course with pancakes at the afterparty - and the World Dance Day at the end of April. On these days I always remember those who brought us this wonderful gift - Square Dancing! First of all I think of our German friends who did a great job by making great efforts, sharing their knowledge and investing their money to get us the idea of how people can live! I'm talking of GRSDF members Eberhard and Traudel Waltz, Ernst Schott, Oscar Bachsleitner, Karl-Udo Schreiber, Rolf and Gerlinde Mittendorf, Wolfgang Grätz, Ingrid and Lutz, Helmar Wolf, just to name a few, of callers who taught Sasha and Fedor at caller schools in Germany like Kenny Reese and Al Stevens, of Uli Schingen who was several times in Russia to help our callers, and I'm talking of David and Celia form UK and Betsy and Jim from the USA. I say: Thank You! to Walt Burr who helped my son to attend GSI caller school in England and to be taught by such brilliant teachers like Deborah and Jon Jones, Kenny Reese, Paul Bristow and Tony Oxendine. These lines are tribute to wonderful Martha Jaremko from Florida who did so much for providing Russian dancers with square dance attire and who I was happy to be friends through correspondence. I enjoyed her letters about Square Dance and her dancing experience very much.

Now our club, the Onego Wave Dancers, and Square Dance in Russia are approaching their 10th anniversary!

I do hope this caller school in Petrozavodsk in 2012 will be a benchmark for future caller schools and Russian callers in 2013 will be even more zealous and devoted to Square Dance than before!

Tatiana Antonova

President of the Onego Wave Dancers Petrozavodsk

Chronicle 2011

Graduation in Petrozavodsk

It has become a tradition in our club Onego Wave Dancers to have a dancing party every month where all the club members, graduated and student dancers, can dance together and have fun. Our guests have a chance to try square dancing as well. Dancing parties are usually followed by talks and a cup of tea in the nearby café which makes them even more enjoyable.

Our Christmas Party on December 26th, hosted 12 dancers from the Saint Petersburg Club, 4 dancers from Murmansk and Wolfgang represented the GRSDF. It was the biggest event for our club since our 5th anniversary. Unfortunately nobody could come from Pskov – the journey from Pskov to Petrozavodsk is simply too long.

February 27th, was also a very special day for our club. We had a party and the highlight was a Graduation Ceremony. It was the first time that our club had had the Graduation Party. Four new dancers joined our club after almost a one-year training.

The preparation took a long time - writing the scenario, sewing the costumes, searching for the right music - but piece by piece everything was ready.

Graduation is an important event in every square dancer's life, so we tried to make it cheerful and memorable.

There was a pie with 4 candles at each corner on a table and the four graduates Svetlana, Marina, Ludmila and Tatiana were accompanied into the hall by angel Nikolai and the callers and dancers wearing black gowns and mortarboards which were later given to the graduates as a sign of their proficiency in square dancing. This all was accompanied by the ABBA song "The Way Old Friends Do". The Graduation ceremony was opened with a friendly letter from Traudel and Eberhard: "Dear Tatiana and all square dance friends in Petrozavodsk, we send best wishes to all of you for the graduation party on February 27th. Sure, all the new dancers will feel a lot of happiness in square dancing now and in the future. We would like to join in and take a peek what happens ... Hope to meet you in a square in St. Petersburg in the autumn, hugs with love Traudel and Eberhard".

A letter from Tomas Hedberg from Sweden made the atmosphere even more festive and made us feel proud of belonging to the world square dance family. "I started square dancing when it was very new in Sweden. Today I can look back and think about everything that I have seen over the years. Then I see what is going on in Russia and think about the future of square dancing for you. You have now become a part of the square dance family and you are welcome to any square dance in the world. You will not only be very welcome – other dancers will be honoured to meet you and to have you as guests on any festival. I know, because I talk about you with all my friends and everyone I talk to is excited! I so much look forward to seeing you all again soon! Tomas Hedberg".

Then the graduates demonstrated their dancing skills in "magic shoeboxes" and proficiency in a required set of calls. After the four candles have been lit and the "recipe" of four F's –Fun, Family, Fellowship, Friendship – had been shared, the long-awaited moment finally came. The graduates received their diplomas, badges, SD rules and the Friendship Song was sung.

Congratulations, friendly words and hugs and sharing the friendship pie with everybody made this moment memorable.

The evening ended in the "Beerloga" café with coffee, blini and almost a two-hour talk.

We hardly can imagine our lives without Square Dance and without Square Dance Friendship.

(Tatiana Antonova, President of the Onego Wave Dancers)

Caller school in Russia

Unfortunately, the caller school with Kenny Reese in St. Petersburg scheduled for February 2011 had to be cancelled. At about the same time Tomáš Doug Machalík from Kladno near Prague who is a caller and member of our club, was planning a visit to Russia to call in Pskov, Petrozavodsk and St. Petersburg clubs. Thus, time permitting, he ran the schools for the Russian callers. The president and members of our club are really thankful to Tomáš for his contribution and support of square dance in Russia.

Helmar Wolf, an active member of our club, has been helping Russian square dance clubs greatly since 2009. He's visited Russian clubs six times since then. Moreover, in April he funded and launched a pilot project on online calling via Skype to support callers in Petrozavodsk and Russia. This project is planned to be worked on.

A beginning in Moscow

On the initiative of Alsu Alyusheva the first group of people interested in square dance met on April 4th. Alsu is a member of our association. She almost finished square dance class at the Jolly Jokers in Munich and was graduated in Pskov last year. Alsu lives in Moscow now. She was able to get a room at the German-Russian House in Moscow for regular classes there on Tuesdays. Eberhard Walz and his wife travelled to Moscow and conducted a crash course in square dance in the German-Russian House from May 28th to 31st. We are looking forward to the opening of a Moscow square dance club.

Resumption in Kaliningrad

The second visit of our vice president and caller Eberhard Walz to Kaliningrad in September 2010 was at threat because there was no proper dance hall found yet. Nevertheless he came there to teach and train new square dancers. His next trip together with a group of 9 square dancers at the end of June turned out to be a real success. This time there was a spacious dance hall available and there were up to 6 squares on the dance floor. Our new members Lothar Weidich and his wife arrived in Kalingrad later by car. He continued teaching for two more days after Eberhard has left. The enthusiastic atmosphere in Kaliningrad made us very confident that the next club in Russia will be founded there in the near future.

Changes within the Board and designation of honorary members

At the membership meeting on July 2nd in Bergheim Oskar Bachsleitner, our long-time treasurer and one of the club founders, refused to candidate for re-election. Josef Nagel took over his function. All the other functions remained unchanged.

At this meeting lifetime honorary memberships were assigned to our American members Jim Pead and Betsy Waite for their great contribution to the development of Square Dance in Russia.

8th Charity Event in Germany

The 8th charity event in favour of Square Dance in Russia was followed by the club night and took place at the Elementary School Ahe in Bergheim on July 2nd. We were happy to welcome 130 cheerful dancers from Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Five hours of MS and PLUS with Will Stans (NL), Maarten Weijers (NL), Ingeborg Körber-Lücker (D) and MC Eberhard Walz delighted the guests. The club night lasted for two and a half hours. The Archway Happy Hoppers did a great job hosting this memorable event.

Fifth Club Anniversary of the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg

On September 10th the third Russian square dance club celebrated its 5th anniversary. On this occasion dancers from all four Russian clubs were graduated in a festive ceremony. At the end of the ceremony they received their diplomas which welcomed them in the world square dance family. The anniversary special was opened with a one minute's silence in honour of Kenny Reese who passed away on September 6th. Kenny contributed considerably to the advancement of Square Dance in Russia by giving several caller schools and by calling at specials. Russian square dance lost a dear friend.

More than 60 dancers from the USA, Germany and Russian clubs attended this event. Ken Ritucci, the well known US caller created a special atmosphere which everybody enjoyed and we all had a lot of fun. Ken also ran a two day caller school for Russian callers on September 8th and 9th.

At the end of the first day the hosts and the guests took a boat trip along the Neva river accompanied by сheerful Russian singing and dancing. Some tea and pies made the trip even more enjoyable. All guests were invited to the club night the next day, September 11th.

Many thanks to the Palace Square Dancers and their families for their warm hospitality.

Callerschool in Bad Wörishofen

With the support of our club Alsu Alyusheva was able to attend the caller school with Joe Kromer, Jeannette Stäuble (CH) and Jerry Jestin (US) from November 13th to 17th.

Chronicle 2010

Caller workshop in St. Petersburg

Luckily, we again could get Kenny Reese, the Houston / Texas born Callerlab accredited caller who now lives in Germany, for a workshop for Russian callers in St. Petersburg from February 25th to 28th. The 5 callers from Petrozavodsk, 2 from Pskov and 4 from St. Petersburg were accompanied by dancers from their clubs who were warmly welcomed as angels. We got very positive feedback from all participants, so we feel encouraged to go on with this kind of caller training in Russia in the future. Our club would like to thank sincerely to all persons involved.

5th Anniversary of the "Sunday Smiling Squares" in Pskov

This year the 2nd Russian club celebrated its 5th anniversary on Saturday, May 15th. The day before, 23 dancers were graduated in a festive ceremony (12 from Sunday Smiling Squares, 8 from Onego Wave Dancers, 2 from Palace Square Dancers, and 1 GRSDF member who now lives in Moscow). On Sunday the Sunday Smiling Squares invited all guests to join them at a common club night.

Together with the well known caller Michael Mühlhauer, 27 German dancers had come to this important event. Besides the newly graduated dancers who had been welcomed to the global square dance community with an official diploma, 11 dancers from Petrozavodsk and 8 from St. Petersburg attended the anniversary special. Traudel, Eberhard, Gertrud, Ossi, Gerhard and Wolfgang were among the initiators of square dancing in Pskov and got a very heartfelt welcome. The Sunday Smiling Squares now had 40 members.

On May 12th, 25 dancers left cloudy and cool Frankfurt heading for sunny and warm Riga / Latvia. Being there we had a guided bus and walking tour to the old city centre. The old Hanseatic city is famous for its Art Nouveau buildings, its spacious parks and its well preserved historic centre. The next day we had a train ride to Majory / Jurmala, a seaside resort close to Riga. Jurmala is a conglomeration of 12 fishing village salong an endless beach, surrounded by gently rolling dunes and pine forests. On Friday morning the group, which meanwhile was joined by Gerhard from Berlin, continued its journey to Pskov by bus. Upon arrival in Pskov we were greeted at the hotel Rizhskaya by club president Tatiana and her husband Igor.

In Pskov we danced in the hall of the regional science library, which is located in the city centre, near the monument of Princess Olga and the October Square. The event was sponsored by the library and the Pensioners Union, and was themed "Dancing instead of war". The library had organised an exhibition with a regional focus to honour the participants from Germany, and in the foyer there were showcases of the Pensioners Union and the Sunday Smiling Squares.

The graduation on Friday was solemnly opened by the group Otschelye of the regional College of Arts under the direction of W. Kagaschescheva and concertmaster Denis Rasumow. After that there was dancing and the 23 graduating Russian dancers were led by experienced Russian and German dancers into the hall. After the ceremonial lighting of the candles symbolizing the four cornerstones of square dance, the graduates received their diplomas and club badges. This was followed by a big friendship ring, and the friendship song was sung in three languages. At the subsequent after party many homemade specialties of the region could be tried. The local television was also present and the next day broadcasted a report with an interview with Eberhard (translated by Alsu Alyusheva from Moscow) about square dancing in Pskov and Russia.

On Sunday morning, the group from Germany made a city tour of Pskov. Among others we visited the Kremlin with the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Alexander Nevski Memorial located just outside the city. Our guide Mikhail gave us a very interesting overview of the development and the over 1100-year history of the city, and at the same time we also got a glimpse of the Russian soul.

In the afternoon, the dancers of the folklore group Budimir, and the children group Businki of the Pskov Art School opened the Sunday Smiling Squares' 5th anniversary. Subsequently Board members of the attending Russian Square Dance Clubs and of the GRSDF brought their congratulations and gifts to the organizing club for their anniversary. A special greeting was given to Katja, the first president and caller from Pskov. Michael Mühlhauer then gave the signal for the Square Up. In between Michael was supported by Elena the club caller of the Sunday Smiling Squares, Sasha and Svetlana from the Onego Wave Dancers as well as by his girlfriend Sandra and of course by Eberhard, the GRSDF club caller.

After a big friendship ring with the friendship song in German, English and Russian, we all met for the after party at the neighbouring Café Volna. There we were entertained by the duo The Musicians of the Wind - Svetlana Rodionova and Aleksei Jepifanov - with historical Renaissance music of the 16th Century.

On Sunday morning, there was an interesting tour of the Pogankin Palace, the Museum of History and Arts & Crafts, known for its large icons and silver collection. Those who wanted could then take a stroll through a market in which there was pretty much anything to buy from spare parts for cars, shower curtains, children's toys to clothing or pets. At the same time at the German-Russian Meeting Centre there was also a square dance demonstration of a disabled group, which was established more than one year before by Katja, the former club caller. Vera is taking now care of the group. It is always a pleasure to see the commitment of this group and the joy square dancing gives them in return.

After the lunch at the restaurant Elit, in the basement of the Gazprom building we went to the club night of the Sunday Smiling Squares. The evening was opened by the choir Okoliza under the direction of A. W. Sakrewski. The choir was accompanied by J. M. Dubow on the harmonica. Then we danced extensively. Friendship books were signed and dangles given to the guests. The after party took place again in the neighbouring Café Volna. There were plenty of delicious things to eat and to drink. Vice-president Alexandra had prepared a little fun game to everybody's amusement where the boys danced blindfolded. For most dancers the 5th club anniversary of the Sunday Smiling Squares was over. It was time to say goodbye with the promise to meet again somewhere in a square.

For the German group an interesting tour was planned on Monday. We were accompanied again by Mikhail, our already known and trusted tour guide. First, we took the bus to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Pechersk Lavra (Cave Monastery) in Pechory, and then continued to the fortress Izborsk, near the Estonian border. The nearby Slovensky springs, which people say have an salutary effect on health and vitality, needed to prove the correctness of this belief. The springs flow into the adjacent lake Gorodischenskoe.

Many square dancers met in the evening in the "German" restaurant Bierhoff located opposite to the hotel Rizhenskaya for the last farewell party. Since there was no German and only one in English menu available, our Russian friends helped us ordering the dinner and drinks. In the name of all German dancers caller Michael thanked Gerlinde and Rolf, the organizers of the trip. In gratitude, he presented them a beautiful watercolour painting of Pscov, with the signatures of all participants, and an illustrated international dictionary without words.

After a short night we began our journey back to Germany. First by bus to Riga, and then by plane back home. With many wonderful experiences and memories in our luggage.

Our thanks go to all members of the Sunday Smiling Squares, and their families for their warm hospitality. They had prepared everything perfectly, and so made the entire stay for all of us to an exciting and memorable trip.

A beginning in Kaliningrad

Through Eberhard's and Traudel's contacts to the German-Russian House in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland, an attempt was made to promote square dance there. The Kaliningrad region is about the size of Schleswig-Holstein, is located some 630 km northeast of Berlin, and has about 950.000 inhabitants, half of which live in the city of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg). For the period from June 17th - 28th caller Eberhard and Traudel, Gerlinde and Rolf as angels were invited to bring square dance to Kaliningrad. Moreover, Olga, president & caller of the Polar Light Dancers, and a second Olga, who has previously danced in Murmansk and now lives in Kaliningrad, were invited to assist in the beginning of square dance in Kaliningrad.

We were warmly welcomed in the GRH and well looked after by director Andrej Artjukov. We had brought an set of entire caller equipment, square dance related learning material and several boxes of donated square dance attire for future dancers.

The very first practice evening on June 18th was a big challenge for everyone involved. A big midsummer festival was planned for the next day, and a square dance performance was heralded as a program point. Eberhard had selected two beautiful singing calls, and the necessary figures were practiced with the square until everything worked perfectly.

On Saturday, a big midsummer festival with invited guests, and ethnic groups of the Kaliningrad region and the neighbouring countries took place. Even a real Swedish Midsummer tree was set up. The consuls, or their representatives of accredited consulates in Kaliningrad transmitted official greetings, and folk dance and vocal groups of their countries entertained the guests. The successful square dance performance was our contribution to the festival. Subsequently, the party continued in bright sunshine on the beautiful grounds and in the premises of the GRH.

The other square dance lessons have been used extensively by the dancers from Kaliningrad and up to 3 squares could be instructed. Due to the great interest, we are confident that square dance will go on in Kaliningrad after the summer break, and many dancers will join a new class.

In addition to the dancing we had some time and the opportunity for sightseeing the city and the Kaliningrad region. A visit of Immanuel Kant's tomb was a must see as well as an organ concert in the cathedral. We made a trip to the Curonian Spit, and visited the beautiful resort of Svetlogorsk (formerly Rauschen)

On Sunday, June 27th, after the dancing we followed, with pleasure, the invitation of the German Consul General Dr. Aristide Fenster to join him and other guests in the hall of the GRH to watch the soccer match between Germany and England, and to celebrate the sensational 4:1 win of the German team in the second round the World Cup. A nice way to end our visit.

7th Fundraiser in Germany

The 7th Fundraiser in Germany to the benefit of square dance in Russia was followed by a club night on August 7th, in the City Hall of Rheine. 262 cheerful dancers from 79 clubs attended. 5 hours of MS and PLUS with Jörg Biewald, Thorsten Dudziak and MC Eberhard Walz thrilled the guests. During the subsequent club night enthusiastic dancing went on for another 2 ½ hours and the excellent callers were convinced to give an encore.

23 guests from all 4 Russian Clubs (8 from Petrozavodsk, 10 from Pskov, 4 from St. Petersburg and 1 from Murmansk) came. Members of the local square dance club Michael Dancers Rheine housed all Russian dancers for free. Unlike an hotel accommodation the Russian guests had the opportunity to improve their German language skills and to make new friends. These encounters have triggered a spontaneous positive response. This is living friendship between nations. Club member Robert Latsch had organized everything with great commitment, and was supported by president Dorothee Faber. Our special thanks to all persons involved.

On Sunday, August 8th, Robert had organised a visit of the nearby River Ems Dancers club for all guests. President Monika Eifler welcomed all 23 Russian, and many dancers from 18 different clubs. Up to 8 squares  danced to the interesting calls of Helmut Reitz. The numerous visitors were a new record in the club history. We all enjoyed the coffee and the delicious homemade cakes the club offered us. A big thank you to the club.

Chronicle 2009

Graduation in Murmansk

On January 24th, graduation ceremony took place at the Polar Light Dancers in Murmansk. 11 dancers from Petrozavodsk (Onego Wave Dancers) attended the event. The new dancers (4 from Polar Light Dancers and 5 from Onego Wave Dancers) were very proud to be awarded square dance bachelor diplomas, together with a second diploma as a proof of crossing the Polar Circle and dancing in the largest city beyond 69° northern latitude - Murmansk.

Spring Jamboree in Berlin

1745 dancers came to this year's Spring Jamboree in Berlin on March 13th - 15th, among them 9 dancers from 3 Russian clubs, e.g. Olga, caller and president of the Polar Light Dancers, Murmansk, with Tatiana, Mikhail and Evgeny, Oxana, vice-president of the Onego Wave Dancers from Petrozavodsk, and secretary Alexandr with Galina, Alla and Masha from Palace Square Dancers of St. Petersburg.

Our heartfelt thanks to Heidrun, Herbert and Wolfgang of the GRSDF as well as Bernie and Conny of the Swinging Bears Berlin. They were hosting the Russian dancers to make it possible to them to attend the jamboree.

The Russian dancers used the Spring Jamboree to dance extensively and to visit a few clubs before and after the event in order to collect dangles and signatures for their friendship books.

Graduation in St. Petersburg

On March 28th, a graduation took place at the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg. Some dancers from Pskov (Sunday Smiling Squares) attended the event too.

Caller workshop in St. Petersburg

From April 24th - 26th the well known Czech caller Tomáš Doug Machalík organized a caller workshop for the Russian callers in the premises of the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg. Tomáš speaks Russian fluently, and had travelled at his own expense to St. Petersburg, to teach the Russian callers. The Russian callers and dancers loved it. On the spot Elena, caller and president of the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov invited Tomáš and asked him to give another caller workshop in Pskov.

Square dance workshop in Pskov

From May 21st - 26th, the Sunday Smiling Squares, aligned with the local German-Russian Encounter Centre organized an international square dance workshop in Pskov with an extensive additional program. Among the attendants of the workshop were 7 dancers and caller Lidia from St. Petersburg, 6 dancers from Petrozavodsk and representing the GRSDF vice-president and caller Eberhard, his wife Traudel, secretary and webmaster Rolf and his wife Gerlinde. Additional dancers from Petrozavodsk intended to come but unfortunately there were no tickets available for the 15-hour train ride.

On the first day Katja took the German participants on an exclusive historical tour of the more than 1100 years old Hanseatic town. The route took us across the river Velikaya from the hotel Rizhskaya to the Trinity Cathedral with Kremlin. Katja is one of the callers from Pskov, who presently is on maternity leave in order to take care of her baby caller offspring.

On Friday, May 22th, we drove with Irina (director of the German-Russian Meeting Centre) by minibus to the beautiful monastery of Pechory near the Estonian border, and then continued to the fortress Izborsk and the Slovensky springs with the nearby Gorodishenskoe Lake. There's a strong belief that the springs have a healing effect, so we drank some water and had a quick wash hoping for relief and rejuvenation (if necessary). Two of us even jumped into the lake. The first square dance workshop started in the evening to the calls of Elena and Vera (1st and 2nd club caller) and Eberhard and we practiced extensively until the after party.

On Saturday, we danced all day except fora lunch break during which Anastasia offered a city walk and a tour of the art gallery and collection of icons.

On Sunday morning, we were invited to a square dance demonstration of 2 squares of Katja's handicapped group. It was a great pleasure to see the enthusiasm they had with square dance. In the end, handicapped and non-handicapped all danced together.

In the afternoon we went to the Wybuty Summer Festival. In sunny weather we had a great picnic with barbecue at the banks of a river. Afterwards the duo Ko-mil-fo entertained us with beautiful guitar music and songs. After the summer festival we had another 3 hours of square dance workshop until evening, which as always ended with an after party.

For Monday the visit of the newly restored monastery Krypowezkij was scheduled.

On Tuesday president Tatiana and her husband took us to a visit of the impressive Alexander Nevsky monument and then to a nunnery near Pskov, beautifully located at the river Velikaya. In the evening we danced together with the Sunday Smiling Squares' class of 7 new square dancers. After midnight, we took our bus back to Riga in Latvia.

This workshop and the accompanying program had been planned and organized by Tatiana, the new president of the Sunday Smiling Squares and Irina, the director of the German-Russian Meeting Centre. All participants were grateful for the unforgettable days in Pskov.

ECTA 50 Years Anniversary Dance in Suhl

More than 1,000 dancers from all over the world attended the great event from June 26th - 28th. All 4 Russian clubs were represented. The Sunday Smiling Squares from Pskov were represented by 5 dancers, the Onego Wave Dancers from Petrozavodsk by 4 dancers, and the Polar Light Dancers from Murmansk and Palace Square Dancers from St. Petersburg by 2 dancers each. They were all picked up at the railway station by members of the GRSDF.

All enjoyed dancing to the top international callers like Tim Marriner (USA), Dave Preskitt (USA/D), Thorsten Geppert (D) and Stefan Förster (D). But even just only watching round, contra and clogging was certainly an experience. So the special has left many beautiful impressions and memories to all.

6th Fundraiser in Germany

The 6th Fundraiser in Germany for the square dance in Russia on August 1st in the Südpfalzhalle in Kapsweyer was followed by a GRSDF club night. In bright summer weather 202 dancers from 73 clubs attended the event - despite the school holidays and warm temperatures - and danced 5 hours of MS and PLUS and were thrilled by the calls of Thorsten Geppert, Joe Kromer, Uli Schingen and MC Eberhqard Walz. Notwithstanding the tropical temperatures the dancing went on for another 2 ½ hours at the following club night and the excellent callers were only let go after some encores. As representative of the Russian clubs Olga, president and caller of the Polar Light Dancers from Murmansk was welcomed.

Caller workshop in Petrozavodsk

From September 30th to October 2nd, Tomáš Doug Machalík, president of the Czech and Slovak caller organization CSCTA held a caller workshop for Russian callers on the eve of the 5th anniversary special of the Onego Wave Dancers in Petrozavodsk. 7 Callers from Petrozavodsk, 2 from Pskov and 1 from St. Petersburg attended the workshop.

"Onego Wave Dancers" - 5 years of square dance in Russia

24 Dancers from Germany and Switzerland, 11 from Pskov, 2 from Murmansk and 1 dancer from St. Petersburg had come to this event.

After the flight to St. Petersburg and a short stay there the German/Swiss group took the night train to Petrozavodsk. Despite the early morning arrival in Petrozavodsk, we were warmly welcomed by president Tatiana, vice-president Oxana and Irina and Svetlana at the station. After breakfast we took a city tour through Petrozavodsk at the Lake Onega. Then we moved into our very comfortable rooms at the Severnaya Hotel near the dancing place, and went to a typical Karelian lunch. Prior to lunch the presidents of the Russian clubs met with the Board of the GRSDF for a short session. During the next three days our hosts impressed us not only with their proverbial Russian hospitality, but also with a programme that showed us the cultural diversity of the country.

The club night on October 2nd was preceded by an impressive, nearly one hour-long presentation of a children's folklore group. The self-confident appearance of small soloists was very impressive. We were grateful we had the opportunity to get a first glimpse of the local culture. Then it was our turn to dance. It was encouraging to see that with Sascha and Fedor two young callers seem to secure the future of square dance in Petrozavodsk. Oxana, another aspiring caller, received enthusiastic applause for her singing call from all dancers. All dancers enjoyed and had much fun dancing to Doug's calls. Our interpreter translated everything very patiently.

The evening belonged to the square dance. The 5th club anniversary was held in the Great Hall of the Karelian Ministry of Economy, and thus this special event received an adequate framework. The Karelian television was present, and broadcasted a coverage about the event, and the square dance in Russia in the evening. At the end the friendship song was sung in three languages. We enjoyed the Russian version very much. At the after party we were treated to local specialties and tea from a samovar. Then somebody grabbed a guitar and we sang Russian, English and German (folk) songs. This after party will stay in our memories for a long time.

On Sunday, October 4th, a visit to the heritage and the natural history museum and a nearby church gave us an additional insight into local history of country and people.

In the evening we deepened that impression with a performance of the Sadarushka factory choir before we then re-dedicated to the dance.

Since due to the high waves the trip to Kizhi Island and the famous wooden churches literally would fall into the water, we took a bus on Monday to the nature reserve of Kivach with its beautiful waterfall. Fortunately, because we were able to get acquainted with the beautiful Karelian scenery and vast Karelian birch forests. At the end of our stay, and cultural highlight of the trip, we were invited to the 70th anniversary concert of the Onego Symphony Orchestra of Petrozavodsk. After the intermission, the musicians surprised us by playing a couple of exotic traditional instruments such as the kantele. Then we had to rush to train station. We left Petrozavodsk as we had come, by night train.

Club visit to the "Palace Square Dancers" in St. Petersburg

Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, we took a city tour, and each had a little time to do something on his own, e.g. a visit of the Alexander Nevsky monastery, which was right next to our hotel Moskva.

In the evening we took a bus to the club night of the Palace Square Dancers. One last time on this trip we were able to dance with our Russian friends from St. Petersburg. At the after party, they spoiled us with Russian specialties like caviar and vodka.

The next day we took the return flight still under the influence of the impression of a wonderful journey. Valuable memories will accompany us. As always, we thank Traudel and Eberhard for the perfect organization of the trip, the Onego Wave Dancers and the Palace Square Dancers for the effusive hospitality the group has experienced, all the callers who called for us, and all who had their share in the success of the events and the journey.

Chronicle 2008

Graduation in Pskov

On January 4th, a graduation ceremony was held in Pskov. It was the first time in the history of Russian square dance that Pskov club Sunday Smiling Squares had organised the event. The president and caller Katya Ershova arranged the holiday. It was a great success bringing together dancers from other clubs in Russia. She was assisted by Russian callers Elena (Sunday Smiling Squares), Fedor (Onego Wave Dancers), Lydia (Palace Square Dancers) who had a good opportunity to practice.

Visit to Saint Petersburg

In April Traudel and Eberhard Walz visited the class with their caller Lydia and the club Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg. They also could hand 0ver to them new caller equipment for the Onego Wave Dancers in Petrozavodsk.

European Convention in Hochheim (Germany)

In June, four Russian dancers (Alla, Galina, Olga and Alexander) visited the European Convention in Hochheim. Under their Russian flag they marched into the hall together with the dancers from another fifteen nations.

5th Fundraiser in Germany

On July 26th, the fifth fundraiser for the square dance movement in Russia, with subsequent club evening, took place in the Hagenbach Hall in Schwäbisch Hall. 205 dancers from 57 clubs had come in good spirits, although it was vacation time in the region. They enthusiastically danced for five hours, Mainstream and Plus, with the callers Jeanette Stäuble, Martin Kromer, Uli Schingen, Michael Mühlhauer and MC Eberhard Walz.

They also got to sample the competence of the Russian callers present, e.g. Lydia from the Palace Square Dancers, St. Petersburg and Sasha from the Onego Wave Dancers, Petrozavodsk. Afterwards, at the club night, the enthused dancing continued for another two and a half hours The callers were only let go after two encores. From Russia we could also welcome 14 dancers from the Onego Wave Dancers, Petrozavodsk, 2 dancers from the Sunday Smiling Squares, Pskov, and 1 from the Palace Square Dancers, St. Petersburg.

Our hearty thank-you to the square dancers from the region for giving free lodging, driver services and a lot of general assistance to our Russian guests which made it possible for them to attend the event. Our special thanks to the Schwäbisch Sweathearts for organizing this fund raiser. Remarkable also the dedication of the youngsters who were a big and willing help.

Big help with the translation of our homepage

In August our new member Ursula Kreis of the Hunte Valley Dancers in Oldenburg has declared herself available for the English translation of our homepage. This allowed us to fill big gaps for the years 2007 and 2008. It will also make the English translations more timely. For this our sincere thanks.

For the big help regarding the Russian translation of the 2007 chronicle our special thanks go to Lydia Markewitsch, caller of the Palace Square Dancers of St. Petersburg.

Caller workshop in Petrozavodsk

In September a caller workshop with Uli Schingen was held, this time in Petrozavodsk. This event attracted many dancers from four Russian clubs. For the first time the young callers from Murmansk participated: Zhenja, Mascha and Mischa. The hosting club, the Onego Wave Dancers had the greatest attendance with 6 callers: Sascha, Fedor, Valerija, Nikolaj, Lisa and Natascha. Also in attendance at this seminar were Sergej and Vera of the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov and Lydia of the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg.

A heartfelt Thank You to Uli and Moni for the unforgettable instructions and to Tatiana Antonova and the other club members who prepared everything perfectly and created that friendly atmosphere!

Club night at the "Palace Square Dancers" in St. Petersburg

The Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg enjoyed a great number of visitors on October 3rd. Because of the Special Dance Golden Autumn the following day many Russian and international dancers had already arrived and did not want to miss getting an entry in their friendship book and a dangle.

Special Dance "Golden Autumn" in St. Petersburg with Kenny Reese

The ECTA Golden Achievement Award of Kenny Reese should be decorated with a garland because of realizing his promise to call the Special Dance Golden Autumn St. Peterburg on October 4th. This great international event will be unforgettable for American, English, German and Russian square dancers.

It was perfectly organised by the Palace Square Dancers and the visitors were surprised - especially about the opening ceremony. According to the Russian traditional welcome – the guests of honour were presented with salt and bread by a young girl, traditionally dressed – singing an old invitation song with a beautiful voice. People were enthusiastic about the following show by two little girls dancing a passage of Tschaikowsky's ballet Swan Lake.

All square dancers enjoyed the festive atmosphere and had much fun while dancing in the marble hall of the old Kirov culture centre. Some of the Russian beginner callers did their best when Kenny took a short break.

GRSDF are proud and pleased about the development of square dance in Russia.

Chronicle 2007

Caller training in Pskov

At the end of March Uli Schingen and Eberhard Walz with Traudl travelled to Pskov to help the Russian callers to further enhance their calling proficiency. In attendance at this caller training (March 23rd through 25th), were Katja, Anton und Elena from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov, Fedor from the Onego Wave Dancers Petrozavodsk and Svetlana and Lydia from the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg.

Homepage now also in Russian and English

Since the beginning of May we could satisfy the often expressed desire of our members and friends to offer the most important entries on our homepage also in Russian and English. This was only possible, because Dr. Nadja Rafikowa, the Chair of the German-Russian Meeting Centre and patron of square dancing in Murmansk made the translation into Russian. The daughter of our new members Celia and David Cooper from England and Malcolm Profit from the Leine Valley Squares Hemmingen near Hannover made the translation into English. A big thank-you to all translators.

Trip to Murmansk and St. Petersburg

On May 24th another group consisting of 24 German, British and Swiss dancers travelled to Russia, loaded down with square dance attire. After a stopover in St. Petersburg with a city tour they travelled on to Murmansk. Here history was made with the founding of the fourth Russian square dance club, the northernmost in the world. All could be witness that in Murmansk they were north of the Polar Circle since the sun never sank below the horizon. The group enjoyed together some impressive polar days.

Our Russian hosts had also organized a one day bus trip to Lovozero in the interior of the peninsula Kola. Here live still some 2000 people of the indigenous tribe of the Samish. We visited the local Samish museum and at the cultural centre got a sampling of Samish dance and song.

Back in Murmansk we also visited "Aljoscha", a giant monument in remembrance of WW-2, and the museum of the history and construction of Murmansk.

On our return to St. Petersburg in addition to square dance the group still had an interesting cultural program: Katherine Palace, the Amber Room, the Tsar's summer residence Parc Petercourt, and the Eremitage. There was even sufficient time for individual activities, as for instance a boat trip on St. Petersburg's waterways and the Neva or a shopping spree on the Newski Prospect or around the hay market.

Our last night was rather short after a big graduation celebration for the dancers from Pskov, Petrozavodsk and St. Petersburg and an early morning departure back to Germany. We took with us unforgettable impressions and experiences. Eberhard and Traudel could once more look back onto an excellently organized trip to Russia.

The founding of the fourth square dance club in Russia, the northernmost of the world

The inaugural meeting for the Polar Light Dancers Murmansk took place on May 27th under the direction of Eberhard Walz, caller and vice-president of the GRSDF. Eighteen active Russian and 21 German square dancers as guests attended this meeting. The members from Murmansk elected Olga Lyutkevich president, Maria "Masha" Pokotilo vice-president, and Dr. Nadeshda "Nadja" Rafikowa treasurer. Olga is also the club's caller, Masha is also a caller, and Nadja in addition to other positions also holds the post of Head of the German-Russian Meeting Centre Murmansk. Just like we did for the three other Russian clubs, our club GRSDF enrolled them as member club with the EAASDC. For the time being our club carries the cost for this.

On the occasion of this trip and to support and stabilize the development of square dance in Murmansk, nine German square dancers became members of the Polar Light Dancers, the northernmost square dance club in the world. (Traudel and Eberhard Walz, Gerlinde and Rolf Mittendorf, Udo Schreiber, Heinz Böhmer, Wolfgang Grätz, and Angela and Jürgen Paskuy)

The former class in Murmansk has already had some public appearances with rehearsed singing calls from records. The local press and regional television had positive coverage of these events.

First graduation in Murmansk

On May 27th, Eberhard Walz, club caller of the GRSDF, and the accompanying square dance friends from Switzerland, England and Germany witnessed how well the class in Murmansk knew the calls. They were all very much impressed with their performance.

With this first festive graduation of the Polar Light Dancers, the northernmost square dance club in the world, 13 female dancers (Nadeshka Rafikowa, Maria Pokotilo, Anastasia Ignatenko, Oksana Chernega, Anna Mokhvina, Olga Nebolsina, Elena Rafikowa, Olga Kuznetsova, Eugenia Vanyukhina, Irina Bykova, Maria Dubinina, Tatjana Bryako, Julia Oliotnikova) and 4 male dancers (Anton Kuznetsov, Sergey Lisutkin, Mikhail Kosmynin, Eugeniy Roytman) were welcomed in the worldwide community of square dancers. Eberhard had already brought along the especially pretty badges which, together with a diploma, were given to the proud freshly graduated dancers.

During the graduation ceremonies the German, Swiss and British guests enjoyed a sampling of Russian folk dance, Russian and German folk songs, belly dancing, flute playing and magic. Margarita from Murmansk and Traudel from Öhringen spontaneously sang together a Russian folk song. Performances of various Russian folk groups and individual artists enriched the event. The generous applause was well earned. This really was a special graduation.

When it was time for the friendship ring at the end of the festivities, our Russian square dance friends surprised us with a Russian translation of the friendship song. We could therefore sing (or hum) the song together in English, German and Russian.

 

 Freundschaftslied

 Friendshipsong

 Песня дружбы

 Reicht Euch die Hände in Freundschaft,
 ein jeder sieht es dann,
 dass auch für Dich ein Fremder
 der beste Freund sein kann!
 Haltet die Hände in Freundschaft
 für lange, lange Zeit,
 dass dieser Ring Euch bring’
 viel Spaß und auch viel Freud’!
 Let’s all join hands in friendship
 for everyone to see.
 Remember that a stranger
 is just a friend to be.
 Hold fast your hands in friendship
 for many years to come,
 this friendshipring will always bring
 good fun for everyone!
 Мы за руки возьмёмся-
 Пусть видят все вокруг:
 Вчера был незнакомец,
 А завтра верный друг.
 Сплетём мы руки крепко
 На долгие года
 Нам счастье дружба принесёт
 И будет так всегда!!!

 

Second graduation in St. Petersburg

The second graduation in St. Petersburg on June 1st was again a big event. The members of the graduating class and the graduated members of the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg, were joined by the students of the Onego Wave Dancers from Petrozavodsk. In addition 11 dancers from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov, had come. They had all undertaken the long journey to celebrate the graduation with the St. Petersburg dancers and the 24 international guests from Germany, England and Switzerland. Consequently Eberhard and the other respective club callers could graduate 9 students from Petrozavodsk and 20 students from St. Petersburg and hand them the diploma accepting them as dancers in the Russian and international square dance community.

GSI (*) caller training in UK in June 2007

Here is the report of David Cooper, Member from our Club in UK:

"The three from Russia were Svetlana Stern and Larissa Filippova from Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg, and Masha Pokotilo from Polar Lights Dancers in Murmansk. Masha had been recommended by Eberhard Walz to receive a GSI bursary to enable her to attend the school.

Having met and danced with all three, Celia & I had agreed to meet their flights at London Heathrow and transport them to St. Ives. Larissa and Masha arrived early on Saturday morning from St. Petersburg. Registration would not start before 6.00 pm, so there was ample time to do some sightseeing. We drove into London and found a parking place close to Buckingham Palace. We were in luck. It was the week before the Trooping of the Colour, and they were holding a full dress rehearsal. Many photos were taken of the Palace, of the Guards, and of Larissa standing next to a London policeman. We then moved on to the South Bank. Second hand books were perused, and some were purchased. More photos were taken of the street theatre. The skills of break dancers were admired and photographed. Our visit ended with a trip on the London Eye. Finally time had run out for us and we had to fight our way through the London traffic. Svetlana was collected from London Airport the following morning, after travelling through the night.

The three Russians worked so hard at the caller school. It was a twelve hour day with a 9.00 am start and a 9.00 pm finish. The course ended on Thursday. Their hard work paid off. Masha was given the honour of being the first to receive her certificate and Svetlana had the honour of making a presentation on behalf of all of the students to Kim Curlee.

Then the partying began. Each of the student groups had devised an entertainment for the afterparty. Everyone thought that Masha's interpretation of "Bend the line" was very well executed. During the week many friendships had been forged between the students. When the time came it was not easy for them to say their goodbyes, but the links between square dancers across Europe are strong and there was much exchanging of details and promises to meet at forthcoming conventions.

Friday was a free day and we took Svetlana, Masha and Larissa on a visit to Cambridge. We hired a punt for a trip on the river. The colleges were admired and photographed from the back, from the front, and Kings College Chapel even from the inside. Then there came the serious part of the visit: Shopping. Which vest / sweater/ T-shirt to buy? One which had a university logo, or perhaps something with a college logo? The visit ended with a serious trip to Marks & Spencer's."

(*) GSI (Grand Squares International) is an American Organization, having a non-profit making Charitable status in the USA. Its sole aim is to promote square dancing on a worldwide basis. It has decided to do this by training new and also experienced callers. The caller training is free but students have to meet their own travel and accommodation costs. GSI had organized a caller school at St. Ives near Cambridge. The staff was made up of Callerlab accredited caller coaches as follows: Tony Oxendine (USA), Jon Jones (USA), Jim Mayo (USA), Kenny Reese (Germany), Paul Bristow (UK). There was also Walt Burr, UK caller and convention organizer (UK/USA) and Kim Curlee of GSI (USA). There was a total of 54 students representing such countries as Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Changes in the Board

At this year's general meeting on July 28th in Putzbrunn our 1st president and founding member Ernst Schott did not run for re-election. He was succeeded by Karl-Udo Schreiber. Vice-president Eberhard Walz and treasurer Oskar Bachsleitner were re-elected. Newly-elected Rolf Mittendorf was appointed to the new post of secretary.

Fourth fund raising special in Germany

On July 28th, the fourth fund raising special to benefit square dance in Russia followed by a club evening took place in the Bürgerhaus in Putzbrunn near Munich. Notwithstanding this being vacation time in the region 325 high-spirited dancers had come for five hours of dancing mainstream and plus. Callers Chris Kiendl, Toni Sedlmayr and Michael Braithwaite gave the guests a wonderful time. Afterwards at the club evening, the enthusiastic dancing went on for another two and a half hours. The callers were only released after two encores. Also present were Anastasia and caller Anton from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov. They had had the longest journey

River and lake cruise St. Petersburg – Petrozavodsk – St. Petersburg

On 16th September, a group of 18 square dancers from Germany and Switzerland together with 8 Russian dancers from the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg started a river and lake cruise to Petrozavodsk. After a city tour of St. Petersburg for the non-Russian dancers in the evening we all met aboard of our cruise ship for the "Onega tale" cruise.

After a night journey across the Neva, Lake Ladoga (*), and the river Svir we reached Swirstoi. On our first trip ashore we visited, among others, the re-opened over 500 years old monastery Swato-Troickij Alexander Swirskij. After a subsequent visit to the market we returned to the ship. In the evening we danced on-board to the calls of the accompanying callers John Pfeiffer, Bernhard Schlipf and clubcaller Eberhard. Among the spectators were many passengers of the ship.

The next morning, we approached the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega (**) with the rising sun. The churches and farmhouses in old wood construction are part of UNESCO World Heritage. The church complex dating from the 18th century includes the 37 m tall Transfiguration Church, with its 22 onion domes (built in 1714) and the Protection and Intercession of Mary Church (built in 1764). The Transfiguration Church was built after the previous building was destroyed by fire. Later, several chapels, farmhouses with outbuildings and a windmill from the surrounding villages were moved to Kizhi.

At noon we took our ship to Petrozavodsk. The capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia was founded in 1703 on the western shore of Lake Onega, has about 262,000 inhabitants (2010), and is the seat of a university, and various cultural institutions, including a conservatory. In the city, woodworking, furniture, fish processing and shipbuilding industries are located. The Murman railroad runs thru Petrozawodsk from St. Petersburg to Murmansk. Due to time constraints, our visit was limited to only a brief visit to the club of the Onego Wave Dancers. We were met at the ship, and made a walk in sunny weather to the nearby dance location in the city centre. We were warmly greeted to the moved club night of the  Onego Wave Dancers by president Valerie and the dancers. Dancing together was a great experience for all. After the - as always - excellent dinner on board, there was dancing, and interested fellow travellers had the opportunity to try their hand at square dancing.

On the way back the next day we visited the Russian museum village Werchnije Mandrogi at river Svir (Karelia). The village was destroyed during World War II, and since 1996 many old craftsmen buildings (e.g. a blacksmith) were re-built. It is an artists' village with wooden castles in the old Russian style, several small houses and Russian saunas. Today among the few inhabitants there are also Vepsians. The village owes its evocative name to their ancestors: in Vepsian Mandragora means "pine on the swamp". In summer the village is regularly visited by tourists of cruise ships travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

At the end we danced on the ship again, and watched the entertainment program. After a rather stormy night journey across Lake Ladoga, we reached St. Petersburg Thursday morning.

Lena from the German-Russian Meeting Centre in St. Petersburg had organized a perfect cruise. We all enjoyed it very much.

Back in St. Petersburg, on the group's schedule was a club visit to the Palace Square Dancers and an interesting cultural program (Catherine Palace with the Amber Room, Hermitage). But there was still enough free time left for everybody to take a boat ride through the waterways of St. Petersburg, or a shopping tour on Nevsky Prospect, or around the Haymarket.

The whole trip was again planned and organized to the satisfaction of all by Eberhard and Traudel Walz and ended with a special club night at the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg.


(*) Lake Ladoga, with 17,703 km², the largest lake in Europe. He is about 37x larger than the Lake Constance (Upper Lake), and is across the Neva to the Baltic and across the Svir (one of the main tributaries of Lake Ladoga) in conjunction with the Lake Onega. From there, there are navigable waterways to the White and the Black Sea.

(**) The Kizhi island is about 7 km long and 0.5 km wide. It is surrounded by many (about 5000) mostly smaller islands.

Caller workshop in St. Petersburg

In St. Petersburg was held a caller school for the beginner callers in Russia, by Uli Schingen, from 21st to 23rd of September. Callers from Petrozavodsk and from Pskov took part too.

There was a special clubnight of Palace Square Dancers on Saturday night and there were eight callers on the stage: David Fullaway from USA, Uli, Eberhard, Bernhard and Johannes from Germany and three beginners Fedor, Katja, Svetlana from Russia. It was a highlight in the Russian square dance scene.

The first open-air demonstration of square dancing in St. Peterburg was called by David Fullaway in the last week of September and they promoted a new class with a flyer.

Caller training by Al Stevens

Elena from Pskov and Fedor from Petrozavodsk were trained as callers from 15th to 19th of October at the expense of our association by Al Stevens in Schömberg - Langenbrand (near Pforzheim).