Forming Cultural Ties
27 June, 2013
Forming Cultural Ties
The Georgian folk dances’ unique technique and grace is something the world has noted repetitively. It seems like Georgians are not the only ones who enjoy its athleticism, authenticity and the discipline it requires to make it appear so effortless. With choreography of men whirling on their knees and women gliding gracefully across the stage, the world has seen Georgia’s finest traditions on display numerous times.
Located in Brooklyn, New York, the Georgian dance theater Dancing Crane offers the Georgian-American
community in the United States a sense of home away from home.
Dancing Crane grew over time since its formation in 1996, hoping to become a bridge between Georgians living in the United States and their culture in Georgia. The company now has singing classes, extensive music and theater programs, dance workshops and much more. Not only do both Georgians and Americans living around the area get to enjoy year-long performances, but they are also given the opportunity to learn from professional Georgian dancers, musicians and theater artists.
With an estimate of 75 children, mainly Georgians, Ukrainians and Russians, attending the classes offered by the company; it is considered the hub of the Georgian community in Brooklyn.
“I myself am a part of American society and have explored a variety of ways to engage the American public in the beauty of this culture,” said General and Artistic Director Victor Sirelson, who shared his different approach to reflecting the Georgian art forms to the American spectators.
“I have organized concerts with musical selections and dance programs that would not be the first choice of Georgians and yet represent the more refined and deeper art of the Georgian culture, not selected for its appeal to thrill-seekers or those with a short attention span,” said Sirelson.
According to Sirelson, the myriad of genres ranging from folk to church songs and dance routines accompanied by live musicians strongly resonate the rich Georgian arts across to the diverse population of the United States.
“Besides the direct appeal to American audiences we have a growing relationship with the arts community in America. We have engaged the arts community in New York City and Brooklyn in particular to represent Georgian arts as a rich tradition, ancient and contemporary, sophisticated and beautiful,” said Sirelson.
One of the most successful accomplishments that Sirelson said he takes much pride in was the theater evening of the drama “Spring seen through the window” June 2 that he described as a “smashing success”.
The Dancing Crane upped the ante when it was invited for children’s ensemble as part of the Annual Russian Heritage Festival, an event that celebrated the diverse heritage and cultural traditions of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and more. Sirelson, who said he took much pride in the quality of the children’s performance, stated that it “was clear they [the children] were the best”.
The Georgian Children’s theatre performed “Co-ha-ha-ha-bitatsia” Sunday, a modern satire, written by playwright Lia Bakhturidze Sirelson. Bakhturidze’s first complete work was “Sarke”, a contemporary tragic comedy that premiered in 2010 in Manhattan.
“It’s a huge family group that brings together all the Georgian adults and their children. They keep the traditions alive by teaching the American-born children Georgian folk dances and songs,” said 17-year-old Georgian native Mariam Chubinidze, who sang with the ensemble from 2008 till 2009 in the children’s choreographic ensemble “Pesvebi” and still continues to religiously attend their events.
Chubinidze also said that by “having tons of events that welcome all people from different cultures, bringing dresses made in Georgia, teaching kids the language, how to sing and dance Georgian folk and traditional entertainment”, the Dancing Crane raised awareness of the Georgian nation in America.
But despite the organization’s location in Brooklyn, it has had several out-of-state performances for the Georgian community in Toronto, Maryland, and New Jersey, striving to someday expand the Georgian legacy to reach audiences nationwide.
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