Chronicle 2006

New class in Murmansk

Following a request from the German-Russian Meeting Centre Murmansk, complete with full caller system with, loudspeakers and teaching materials, Eberhard, Traudel, Gerlinde and Rolf set off to teach square dancing to some 16-20 interested students. This was during a Polar Winter in Murmansk in the beginning of March. With icy temperatures on the outside there was plenty of enthusiasm to learn square dancing in warm conditions indoors. The new students from Murmansk were quickly infected by the square dancing bug. Olga was taught how to call. The local television station showed interest with caller Eberhardt being interviewed and the translation being done by the Chair of the GRMC. In the interview caller Eberhardt took the opportunity to publicise square dancing.

Progress in Murmansk

During May Eberhard and Traudel paid another visit to the dancers in Murmansk. There had been some problems with rooms and the group had not been able to dance regularly. They were able to learn further new moves. Eberhard and Traudel then joined the main party for the graduation in St. Petersburg.

Foundation of a square dance club in St. Petersburg

Before the graduation on 2nd June the inaugural meeting took place to found the square dance club in St. Petersburg. The third club in Russia took the name of Palace Square Dancers.

The founding Board members were: president & caller Svetlana, vice-president Larissa and treasurer Nadezda.

Graduation in St. Petersburg

The square dance scene in Russia was growing. 31 students from St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk and Pskov all graduated on Saturday 3rd June at the first St. Petersburg Special Dance. Thirty six dancers and the well known German caller Uli Schingen had travelled there from Germany, Britain, and Switzerland. Many of them had brought suitcases with square dance outfits for the new dancers. The graduation was a moving and festive ceremony.

The tour from the 31st May to 4th June had been - as usual – perfectly organised by Eberhard and Traudel. As well as dancing, the group was able to participate in a sightseeing tour. A performance by the famous folklore group Skomorokhi was a particular cultural highlight for our group. All participants loved the enchanting dance and music show from the old Russia.

3rd Fundraiser in Germany

The third club evening in Germany took place on June 24th in collaboration with the Smiling Dreams of Hamm and was a charity event in favour of square dancing in Russia. Despite the football world championship (Germany played Sweden in the last 16 – and won 2:0) almost 400 dancers attended. The guests enjoyed 7 hours of MS and PLUS with Joachim Rühenbeck, Jörg Biewald and MC Eberhard Walz.

On the Sunday a joint open air dance with the Smiling Dreams was held at St. Paul's Church in Hamm.

Caller training in the USA

With Jim and Betsy’s support Svetlana Stern, caller of the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg, had the unique opportunity to attend a caller school in the USA.

Training for the graduation in Murmansk

When Eberhard, Traudel, Heide Marie, Gerlinde and Rolf as well as David and Celia from England arrived in Murmansk on Friday, 20th October, they found there had already been a heavy snow fall there. After further practice for the graduation, the female dancers had made very good progress. (The future male dancers were happy to watch for the time being). Eberhard was then able to teach them the rest of the Mainstream moves. Graduation was planned for the end of May 2007 (Whitsun).

On Sunday there was a national centre football tournament in Murmansk’s central stadium and sports hall. The Chair of the GRMC in Murmansk, Dr. Natja Rafikowa, had arranged a joint performance of the Murmansk square dancers and guests from England and Germany during half time interval. In front of a great backdrop and to the thunderous applause of the large number of spectators we danced 2 squares and showed how wonderful square dancing is and how much we enjoy dancing. Mascha offered to be the second dancer to learn calling.

And open house in St. Petersburg

On Tuesday, 24 October, the group travelled on to an open house in the GRMC in St. Petersburg. We were joined by 20 people interested in learning to square dance. Eberhard quickly taught the first 10 moves to the guests. Soon the newcomers could dance the first simple singing calls with the local angels and the visitors from Germany and England offering guidance.

Caller training in Germany

Our club was able to take a huge step towards realising our aim of furthering an independent development of square dance in Russia. The Russian novice callers, Olga from Murmansk, Lydia and Elena from St. Petersburg and Sascha from Petrozavodsk were able to successfully complete a club financed, certificated caller training course with Kenny Reese in Bad Wörishofen on 19th – 23rd November.

Shortly before this caller training course Olga, who comes from the Arctic town of Murmansk was a guest of Gerlinde and Rolf in Langenhagen (Hannover). She was able to make 7 club visits in that area. This enabled Olga, who hadn’t graduated yet, to improve her experience of square dancing and square dance clubs. Kenny Reese and his team were so impressed with Olga's dancing ability that – for the first and last time - they decided spontaneously to graduate a course participant. This festive act, where a few tears were shed, provided a fitting reward and recognition of Olga's commitment to square dancing.