It's just a few days out from our next performances! We've headed into tech rehearsals with Ethnic Dance Theater for "Mountain Memories," and wanted to take the chance to share what an exciting collaboration this is going to be.
Ethnic Dance Theater (EDT) has been a fixture on the landscape of international folklore in the United States for many years, and many of our musical predecessors have been involved in the company.
In addition to their dancing, Ethnic Dance Theater is known for their incredible costuming work. They perform dances from all over the world, and clothe all their dancers in complete, historical, beautiful folk costumes from the appropriate culture. That means not just a Bulgarian dance in Bulgarian costume, but regionally-specific folk dresses from Rhodope region for a Rhodopian dance, Shoppe regional costumes for Shopska tunes, Thracian for Thrace, and so on.
Eric Ray, who dances and plays accordion with EDT, says that EDT has something like 5,500 costumes in their collection, with 65 countries represented.
When we were in Croatia with the Yale Slavic Chorus (minus Rachel) we visited Ensemble LADO, which is Croatia's premier folk dance ensemble. LADO is famous for being a "dancing museum", with a collection of thousands of historic costumes. And they are a national ensemble for the entire country of Croatia. It is awesome to have Ethnic Dance Theatre right here in the Twin Cities doing the same thing.
Female singing mentors of ours who have been involved in EDT include Natalie Nowytski, the singers of Mila Vocal Ensemble, Karen Sandness, Mary Sherhart, and others... are we forgetting anyone? In addition Tim O'Keefe, the rockstar percussionist who is playing in the band for Mountain Memories, is one of Sarah's percussion teachers. Some of our other favorite Twin Cities musicians are also playing in the orchestra: Colleen Bertsch, Katrina Mundinger, Jim Parker, Matt Miller, and Jenny Schultz.
EDT has studied with some of the most prestigious folk dance ensembles in the world, and they've hosted workshops in all manner of dance traditions. In 2013, they hosted a workshop with the Georgian group Zedashe, from whose work we in the Nightingale Trio learned the song "Ase Chonguri."
Anyways, EDT is awesome. Our performances this weekend are part of their 41st season of performing, and that longevity speaks to both their caliber and the strength of the folk music scene that also supports us. It's great to be connected to all of you!
P.S. Thanks to Marianne Combs for covering our tour on 89.3 The Current!