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Get your shoes in order... and your braids on

Anastasia Verdoljak performs with the Ethnic Dance Theater in St. Paul, MN. Here is their mission:

Our mission is to foster understanding and awareness of world cultures through the re-creation and presentation of traditional ethnic dance and music.
We believe that ethnic music and dance are true affirmations of human artistic expression. Many of the cultures which are represented in our programs are currently in great conflict. Through our performances, we acknowledge the inherent beauty and dignity of all peoples.

"It's always political in nature, what we do, because there's always something going on," Stasia tells me.

Our conversation started out with the Balkans, including line dancing where the dancers are connected to each other through hands, scarves, etc. Check out a medley of a few different Balkan dances.

Stasia also brought up Ossetian dance, where the women aren't supposed to look at the men, they have their eyes down or sideways through the dance. Click to see the Ethnic Dance Theater perform one of these dances. Such costumes!

The Hopak dance from Ukraine is one of the most difficult folk dances out there. Stasia describes it as "lots of leaping and jumping" for the men, and she's not kidding! Check out an example of a Hopak.​

Stasia also talked about performances where they sing and dance. We didn't dig deep into this, but there are many different styles of singing that reflect regional traditions. Check out this Hungarian Dance for an example of the group singing while they dance. This is another EDT performance, and Stasia is actually in this video - you can catch some glimpses of her!

Folk dance performances are so visual! Hopefully seeing some examples helped make this more immersive for you. They put so much work into these performances! And can you imagine changing these elaborate costumes between sets?

Stasia says the key is to get your shoes in order. That way, no matter what happens with the rest, you have your correct shoes on.

Make sure you read the video descriptions where you can. EDT writes great overviews of the ideas behind the dances!

Finally, I love this bit Stasia said after sharing 2 wonderful Zeitgeist Moments:

If the music calls for it and you can't help but move, then that is a Zeitgeist Moment for me.

I can totally relate!

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