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© Courtesy of Tuda-Syuda

Dancing the night away, peasant-style

by Daryana Antipova at 21/01/2013 19:46

In the days before flirting over cocktails and face control, village peasants gathered for their own brand of clubbing: “vecherki,” or evenings spent dancing and playing games with friends. For a tidy fee, the owner of the biggest house in the village would clear out for the night as his dwelling turned into the town watering hole.

In Moscow, this Russian tradition lives on in the fancy footwork of Tuda-Syuda, a folk dance group that meets monthly at the Dom performing arts space. Founded in 2009, the group holds public evenings open to anyone looking for dancing and a good time.

“Performing folk dances is not very difficult,” head organizer Ilya Akhrameyev told The Moscow News. “We explain everything in detail and demonstrate dance steps. Usually participants grasp the movements on the spot.”

The best-known folk dances are the krakowiak, semyonovna, svetit mesyats, polka and shakhtyora. These Eastern European favorites (and their regional variations) are included in the program, along with Ukrainian, Belarussian and Lithuanian dance styles. Three performers on accordion, violin and percussion provide musical accompaniment.

Participants include students from music schools and colleges, young people interested in folklore, and those who just want to don their dancing shoes and try something new. “We’re often visited by foreigners,” Akhrameyev said.

Tuda-Syuda plays regional Russian folk music on traditional instruments

© Courtesy of Tuda-Syuda

Tuda-Syuda plays regional Russian folk music on traditional instruments

According to Akhrameyev, the most popular dance among participants (as well as the simplest to learn) is the Mari circle dance. Beyond dancing, attendees also have the opportunity to participate in folk games, including a traditional kissing game.

Regular participants come wearing striking (and comfortable) folk costumes. Any style of dress is acceptable— but girls are warned not to wear high heels.

Beyond leading classes, the group also performs at a variety of festivals. Band members recreate traditional folk music, playing on reconstructions of old instruments using ancient techniques.

Tuda-Syuda seeks to spread interest in folklore among young people, banishing the stereotype that ethnic folk music is always sad and anguished. It seems to be working.

“Now that there’s demand for traditional Russian dance, we regularly have more than 100 people,” Akhrameyev said. “We can barely fit in Dom.” 

Tuda-Syuda’s first dance event in 2013 will take place on Jan. 22 at 8 pm at Dom, 24 Bolshoi Ovchinnikovsky Per., m. Tretyakovskaya, dom.com.ru. Cost is 300 rubles, or 200 rubles for students.

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