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.