Chronicle 2007

Caller training in Pskov

At the end of March Uli Schingen and Eberhard Walz with Traudl travelled to Pskov to help the Russian callers to further enhance their calling proficiency. In attendance at this caller training (March 23rd through 25th), were Katja, Anton und Elena from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov, Fedor from the Onego Wave Dancers Petrozavodsk and Svetlana and Lydia from the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg.

Homepage now also in Russian and English

Since the beginning of May we could satisfy the often expressed desire of our members and friends to offer the most important entries on our homepage also in Russian and English. This was only possible, because Dr. Nadja Rafikowa, the Chair of the German-Russian Meeting Centre and patron of square dancing in Murmansk made the translation into Russian. The daughter of our new members Celia and David Cooper from England and Malcolm Profit from the Leine Valley Squares Hemmingen near Hannover made the translation into English. A big thank-you to all translators.

Trip to Murmansk and St. Petersburg

On May 24th another group consisting of 24 German, British and Swiss dancers travelled to Russia, loaded down with square dance attire. After a stopover in St. Petersburg with a city tour they travelled on to Murmansk. Here history was made with the founding of the fourth Russian square dance club, the northernmost in the world. All could be witness that in Murmansk they were north of the Polar Circle since the sun never sank below the horizon. The group enjoyed together some impressive polar days.

Our Russian hosts had also organized a one day bus trip to Lovozero in the interior of the peninsula Kola. Here live still some 2000 people of the indigenous tribe of the Samish. We visited the local Samish museum and at the cultural centre got a sampling of Samish dance and song.

Back in Murmansk we also visited "Aljoscha", a giant monument in remembrance of WW-2, and the museum of the history and construction of Murmansk.

On our return to St. Petersburg in addition to square dance the group still had an interesting cultural program: Katherine Palace, the Amber Room, the Tsar's summer residence Parc Petercourt, and the Eremitage. There was even sufficient time for individual activities, as for instance a boat trip on St. Petersburg's waterways and the Neva or a shopping spree on the Newski Prospect or around the hay market.

Our last night was rather short after a big graduation celebration for the dancers from Pskov, Petrozavodsk and St. Petersburg and an early morning departure back to Germany. We took with us unforgettable impressions and experiences. Eberhard and Traudel could once more look back onto an excellently organized trip to Russia.

The founding of the fourth square dance club in Russia, the northernmost of the world

The inaugural meeting for the Polar Light Dancers Murmansk took place on May 27th under the direction of Eberhard Walz, caller and vice-president of the GRSDF. Eighteen active Russian and 21 German square dancers as guests attended this meeting. The members from Murmansk elected Olga Lyutkevich president, Maria "Masha" Pokotilo vice-president, and Dr. Nadeshda "Nadja" Rafikowa treasurer. Olga is also the club's caller, Masha is also a caller, and Nadja in addition to other positions also holds the post of Head of the German-Russian Meeting Centre Murmansk. Just like we did for the three other Russian clubs, our club GRSDF enrolled them as member club with the EAASDC. For the time being our club carries the cost for this.

On the occasion of this trip and to support and stabilize the development of square dance in Murmansk, nine German square dancers became members of the Polar Light Dancers, the northernmost square dance club in the world. (Traudel and Eberhard Walz, Gerlinde and Rolf Mittendorf, Udo Schreiber, Heinz Böhmer, Wolfgang Grätz, and Angela and Jürgen Paskuy)

The former class in Murmansk has already had some public appearances with rehearsed singing calls from records. The local press and regional television had positive coverage of these events.

First graduation in Murmansk

On May 27th, Eberhard Walz, club caller of the GRSDF, and the accompanying square dance friends from Switzerland, England and Germany witnessed how well the class in Murmansk knew the calls. They were all very much impressed with their performance.

With this first festive graduation of the Polar Light Dancers, the northernmost square dance club in the world, 13 female dancers (Nadeshka Rafikowa, Maria Pokotilo, Anastasia Ignatenko, Oksana Chernega, Anna Mokhvina, Olga Nebolsina, Elena Rafikowa, Olga Kuznetsova, Eugenia Vanyukhina, Irina Bykova, Maria Dubinina, Tatjana Bryako, Julia Oliotnikova) and 4 male dancers (Anton Kuznetsov, Sergey Lisutkin, Mikhail Kosmynin, Eugeniy Roytman) were welcomed in the worldwide community of square dancers. Eberhard had already brought along the especially pretty badges which, together with a diploma, were given to the proud freshly graduated dancers.

During the graduation ceremonies the German, Swiss and British guests enjoyed a sampling of Russian folk dance, Russian and German folk songs, belly dancing, flute playing and magic. Margarita from Murmansk and Traudel from Öhringen spontaneously sang together a Russian folk song. Performances of various Russian folk groups and individual artists enriched the event. The generous applause was well earned. This really was a special graduation.

When it was time for the friendship ring at the end of the festivities, our Russian square dance friends surprised us with a Russian translation of the friendship song. We could therefore sing (or hum) the song together in English, German and Russian.




 Песня дружбы

 Reicht Euch die Hände in Freundschaft,
 ein jeder sieht es dann,
 dass auch für Dich ein Fremder
 der beste Freund sein kann!
 Haltet die Hände in Freundschaft
 für lange, lange Zeit,
 dass dieser Ring Euch bring’
 viel Spaß und auch viel Freud’!
 Let’s all join hands in friendship
 for everyone to see.
 Remember that a stranger
 is just a friend to be.
 Hold fast your hands in friendship
 for many years to come,
 this friendshipring will always bring
 good fun for everyone!
 Мы за руки возьмёмся-
 Пусть видят все вокруг:
 Вчера был незнакомец,
 А завтра верный друг.
 Сплетём мы руки крепко
 На долгие года
 Нам счастье дружба принесёт
 И будет так всегда!!!


Second graduation in St. Petersburg

The second graduation in St. Petersburg on June 1st was again a big event. The members of the graduating class and the graduated members of the Palace Square Dancers St. Petersburg, were joined by the students of the Onego Wave Dancers from Petrozavodsk. In addition 11 dancers from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov, had come. They had all undertaken the long journey to celebrate the graduation with the St. Petersburg dancers and the 24 international guests from Germany, England and Switzerland. Consequently Eberhard and the other respective club callers could graduate 9 students from Petrozavodsk and 20 students from St. Petersburg and hand them the diploma accepting them as dancers in the Russian and international square dance community.

GSI (*) caller training in UK in June 2007

Here is the report of David Cooper, Member from our Club in UK:

"The three from Russia were Svetlana Stern and Larissa Filippova from Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg, and Masha Pokotilo from Polar Lights Dancers in Murmansk. Masha had been recommended by Eberhard Walz to receive a GSI bursary to enable her to attend the school.

Having met and danced with all three, Celia & I had agreed to meet their flights at London Heathrow and transport them to St. Ives. Larissa and Masha arrived early on Saturday morning from St. Petersburg. Registration would not start before 6.00 pm, so there was ample time to do some sightseeing. We drove into London and found a parking place close to Buckingham Palace. We were in luck. It was the week before the Trooping of the Colour, and they were holding a full dress rehearsal. Many photos were taken of the Palace, of the Guards, and of Larissa standing next to a London policeman. We then moved on to the South Bank. Second hand books were perused, and some were purchased. More photos were taken of the street theatre. The skills of break dancers were admired and photographed. Our visit ended with a trip on the London Eye. Finally time had run out for us and we had to fight our way through the London traffic. Svetlana was collected from London Airport the following morning, after travelling through the night.

The three Russians worked so hard at the caller school. It was a twelve hour day with a 9.00 am start and a 9.00 pm finish. The course ended on Thursday. Their hard work paid off. Masha was given the honour of being the first to receive her certificate and Svetlana had the honour of making a presentation on behalf of all of the students to Kim Curlee.

Then the partying began. Each of the student groups had devised an entertainment for the afterparty. Everyone thought that Masha's interpretation of "Bend the line" was very well executed. During the week many friendships had been forged between the students. When the time came it was not easy for them to say their goodbyes, but the links between square dancers across Europe are strong and there was much exchanging of details and promises to meet at forthcoming conventions.

Friday was a free day and we took Svetlana, Masha and Larissa on a visit to Cambridge. We hired a punt for a trip on the river. The colleges were admired and photographed from the back, from the front, and Kings College Chapel even from the inside. Then there came the serious part of the visit: Shopping. Which vest / sweater/ T-shirt to buy? One which had a university logo, or perhaps something with a college logo? The visit ended with a serious trip to Marks & Spencer's."

(*) GSI (Grand Squares International) is an American Organization, having a non-profit making Charitable status in the USA. Its sole aim is to promote square dancing on a worldwide basis. It has decided to do this by training new and also experienced callers. The caller training is free but students have to meet their own travel and accommodation costs. GSI had organized a caller school at St. Ives near Cambridge. The staff was made up of Callerlab accredited caller coaches as follows: Tony Oxendine (USA), Jon Jones (USA), Jim Mayo (USA), Kenny Reese (Germany), Paul Bristow (UK). There was also Walt Burr, UK caller and convention organizer (UK/USA) and Kim Curlee of GSI (USA). There was a total of 54 students representing such countries as Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Changes in the Board

At this year's general meeting on July 28th in Putzbrunn our 1st president and founding member Ernst Schott did not run for re-election. He was succeeded by Karl-Udo Schreiber. Vice-president Eberhard Walz and treasurer Oskar Bachsleitner were re-elected. Newly-elected Rolf Mittendorf was appointed to the new post of secretary.

Fourth fund raising special in Germany

On July 28th, the fourth fund raising special to benefit square dance in Russia followed by a club evening took place in the Bürgerhaus in Putzbrunn near Munich. Notwithstanding this being vacation time in the region 325 high-spirited dancers had come for five hours of dancing mainstream and plus. Callers Chris Kiendl, Toni Sedlmayr and Michael Braithwaite gave the guests a wonderful time. Afterwards at the club evening, the enthusiastic dancing went on for another two and a half hours. The callers were only released after two encores. Also present were Anastasia and caller Anton from the Sunday Smiling Squares Pskov. They had had the longest journey

River and lake cruise St. Petersburg – Petrozavodsk – St. Petersburg

On 16th September, a group of 18 square dancers from Germany and Switzerland together with 8 Russian dancers from the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg started a river and lake cruise to Petrozavodsk. After a city tour of St. Petersburg for the non-Russian dancers in the evening we all met aboard of our cruise ship for the "Onega tale" cruise.

After a night journey across the Neva, Lake Ladoga (*), and the river Svir we reached Swirstoi. On our first trip ashore we visited, among others, the re-opened over 500 years old monastery Swato-Troickij Alexander Swirskij. After a subsequent visit to the market we returned to the ship. In the evening we danced on-board to the calls of the accompanying callers John Pfeiffer, Bernhard Schlipf and clubcaller Eberhard. Among the spectators were many passengers of the ship.

The next morning, we approached the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega (**) with the rising sun. The churches and farmhouses in old wood construction are part of UNESCO World Heritage. The church complex dating from the 18th century includes the 37 m tall Transfiguration Church, with its 22 onion domes (built in 1714) and the Protection and Intercession of Mary Church (built in 1764). The Transfiguration Church was built after the previous building was destroyed by fire. Later, several chapels, farmhouses with outbuildings and a windmill from the surrounding villages were moved to Kizhi.

At noon we took our ship to Petrozavodsk. The capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia was founded in 1703 on the western shore of Lake Onega, has about 262,000 inhabitants (2010), and is the seat of a university, and various cultural institutions, including a conservatory. In the city, woodworking, furniture, fish processing and shipbuilding industries are located. The Murman railroad runs thru Petrozawodsk from St. Petersburg to Murmansk. Due to time constraints, our visit was limited to only a brief visit to the club of the Onego Wave Dancers. We were met at the ship, and made a walk in sunny weather to the nearby dance location in the city centre. We were warmly greeted to the moved club night of the  Onego Wave Dancers by president Valerie and the dancers. Dancing together was a great experience for all. After the - as always - excellent dinner on board, there was dancing, and interested fellow travellers had the opportunity to try their hand at square dancing.

On the way back the next day we visited the Russian museum village Werchnije Mandrogi at river Svir (Karelia). The village was destroyed during World War II, and since 1996 many old craftsmen buildings (e.g. a blacksmith) were re-built. It is an artists' village with wooden castles in the old Russian style, several small houses and Russian saunas. Today among the few inhabitants there are also Vepsians. The village owes its evocative name to their ancestors: in Vepsian Mandragora means "pine on the swamp". In summer the village is regularly visited by tourists of cruise ships travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

At the end we danced on the ship again, and watched the entertainment program. After a rather stormy night journey across Lake Ladoga, we reached St. Petersburg Thursday morning.

Lena from the German-Russian Meeting Centre in St. Petersburg had organized a perfect cruise. We all enjoyed it very much.

Back in St. Petersburg, on the group's schedule was a club visit to the Palace Square Dancers and an interesting cultural program (Catherine Palace with the Amber Room, Hermitage). But there was still enough free time left for everybody to take a boat ride through the waterways of St. Petersburg, or a shopping tour on Nevsky Prospect, or around the Haymarket.

The whole trip was again planned and organized to the satisfaction of all by Eberhard and Traudel Walz and ended with a special club night at the Palace Square Dancers in St. Petersburg.

(*) Lake Ladoga, with 17,703 km², the largest lake in Europe. He is about 37x larger than the Lake Constance (Upper Lake), and is across the Neva to the Baltic and across the Svir (one of the main tributaries of Lake Ladoga) in conjunction with the Lake Onega. From there, there are navigable waterways to the White and the Black Sea.

(**) The Kizhi island is about 7 km long and 0.5 km wide. It is surrounded by many (about 5000) mostly smaller islands.

Caller workshop in St. Petersburg

In St. Petersburg was held a caller school for the beginner callers in Russia, by Uli Schingen, from 21st to 23rd of September. Callers from Petrozavodsk and from Pskov took part too.

There was a special clubnight of Palace Square Dancers on Saturday night and there were eight callers on the stage: David Fullaway from USA, Uli, Eberhard, Bernhard and Johannes from Germany and three beginners Fedor, Katja, Svetlana from Russia. It was a highlight in the Russian square dance scene.

The first open-air demonstration of square dancing in St. Peterburg was called by David Fullaway in the last week of September and they promoted a new class with a flyer.

Caller training by Al Stevens

Elena from Pskov and Fedor from Petrozavodsk were trained as callers from 15th to 19th of October at the expense of our association by Al Stevens in Schömberg - Langenbrand (near Pforzheim).