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.