~ The Russian Festival For Children
In our continuing quest to introduce America to Classic Russian
culture, we decided that we would dedicate our 2013 Russian Winter
Festival to children of all ages!
better way to do this than to bring to America a 'world premier
American child grew up learning the fairy tale of "Cinderella" ~ but
~ did you know that there is more than one Cinderella?
you know that the original Cinderella actually lived over
3,000 years ago ~ as a slave in Ancient Egypt?
oldest known written account of "Cinderella" dates back to around
300BC in Ancient Egypt, and has been told and retold throughout the
known world right up to today ~ written and rewritten by authors who
wanted her story to resonate with their country's children and their
unique cultural norms.
no different from any other country in wanting to bring this
millennia-old saga to Russian children! Thanks to
Evgeny Lvovitch Schwartz
~ the "Father of Russian Fairy Tales" genre ~ Russian
children learned of a serf who rose to become a Princess!
~ in Russian ~ is:
Russian name translates into
now, Evgeny Lvovitch Schwartz'
had never before been translated into English NOR
had it ever been presented in the United States. Thanks to the
brilliant translating work of Professor James Falen AND Artistic
Director Natasha O. Ramer's theatrical adaptation of Shvarts' saga ~
Moscow Nights brings this world premier theater event to America!
and April of 2013, Evgeny Shvarts' «Золушка»
was performed at the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts in
Kenner, Louisiana, to sold out audiences and theatrical acclaim ...
~ Cast ...
Crew ... And A Photo Gallery ~
Excerpts of Moscow Nights Presents
Shvarts' Cinderella ~
~ The Russian Winter Festival
... Moscow Nights, Inc. was proud to
present the Russian Winter Festival 2010 ~ aptly entitled:
Years Of Moscow Nights!"
Theater of Saint Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana,
hosted this 10th Anniversary gala extravaganza!
began at noon and included two concerts, a bazaar of Russian crafts
and souvenirs, and the Russian Tea Room. The bazaar included art
exhibitions of works by Larissa Ivakina and the late Ella Neiman, a
special selection of Russian-themed books from Octavia Bookstore,
and beautiful antiques and interior collectibles from the Shop of
The Russia Tea
Room offered many traditional delicacies, with food catered by The
Educated Palate, Harrabi Catering, and Chris Salmons.
the concert began, and in between the two performances, music was
provided by David and Irene McCullough with Bayanist Alla Melnik,
and the “Russian Mafia Band” Debauche.
The festival was a celebration of our tenth anniversary as an organization; thus, we tried to incorporate every artist and performance we have had in the past ten years is not this one concert.
The title of the theatrical
“Moscow Nights and Friends”
The concert began with video clips from the past ten years, edited by Robert Hebert. With Chris Wecklein acting as our Master of Ceremonies, the audience was then treated to performances by Danny Flaherty, Roscoe Reddix, Jr., Donald Lewis, Jr., Komenka Ethnic Dance and Music Ensemble, Russian Romance (from Atlanta), Betty Karam and her Desert Dancers, and dancers from the Jefferson Ballet.
M. Jefferson and Diana E. H. Shortes performed an excerpt from Carol
Rocamora's play "I Take Your Hand in Mine ...", Veronica
Russell and Julie Vorus performed a scene from Alexander Sergeyevich
Pushkin's "The Water Nymph", and Diana E. H. Shortes, Veronica Russell, and Kathy Randels performed a scene adapted from
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov's "Three Sisters". Natasha Ramer also performed music from her cabaret accompanied by Harry Mayronne and Faina Lushtak.
Click here to view images of Winter Festival 2010!
Excerpts of Moscow Nights Presents
~ The Russian
Winter Festival 2010 ~
~ The Russian Winter Festival
||The most successful dimension of our Russian Winter Festival-2008 was the concert-play:
“Adventures Around Moscow”
written and directed by
O. Ramer. The concert blended musical performances, theater, poetry and dance. This concert was beautifully presented and performed, and showcased the performers cleverly in a way that was much more effective than a sequential program would have been.
As the lights dim,
comes on the stage and announces to the audience that she has always
had the dream of:
“... taking all of you with me to Moscow during the
winter holidays, and especially for the Old New Year!”
begins the journey, complete with a “Wish Lady” who tells people to
tighten their seat belts, sound and light effect simulating a jet
landing and raucous parade of all performers, welcoming everyone to
Natasha gets a special wish for herself and
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, played by
Roscoe Reddix, who accompanies her around the stage that is now Moscow.
The stroll takes them to Red Square, where snowball-throwing
children recite a Pushkin
poem in Russian and in English.
Komenka Ethnic Dance Ensemble performs a “skating” dance. At this point everyone left together for the Actor’s Club, where we first meet the Trio “Zingaresca,” led by the
Oleg Timofeev, a professor and musician. He explains the heart of Russian romances to the audience, and then he performs them. Then on to the bazaar on Arbat Street, to the cabaret theater where they’re joined by New Orleans culinary legend
Chris Wecklein), and finally to the Gypsy Tavern where the Trio “Zingaresca” performs the best genuine Gypsy music, and Komenka’s dancers present a dramatic Gypsy camp scene based on:
(Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin "Gypsies")
At the conclusion,
Chris, and Kate Arthurs join
Harry Mayronne, Jr. to sing his “Every Day is Mardi Gras in Heaven”, a joyful return to reality and the grand finale in which everyone sings the song “Moscow Nights”.
In writing this script, Ramer tried to include varied educational elements such as poetry, information about Russian romances, about the Actor’s Club, and about Moscow’s unique Gypsy Theater. She also drew upon great Russian music such as the theme from Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet”.
This grant made it possible for us to invite the great Russian virtuoso Trio “Zingaresca”, all of whose members were famous performers in Russia before coming to the United States. Our audiences raved over their performance. Moscow Nights once again achieved its goal of presenting programs that would enhance its audience’s understanding and appreciation for various aspects of Russian culture.
Click here to view images of Winter Festival 2008!
~ The Russian Winter Festival 2006 ~
(The "Lost" Russian Winter
There were great plans in
place for the Fifth Russian Winter Festival:
“Treasures of the Russian Gypsy”
... which would have included a performance of:
(Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin "The Gypsies")
| ~ New
Orleans ~ the 29th
of August of 2005 ~
crushing strike changed not only Moscow Nights’ plans, but those of
the entire Greater New Orleans Metropolitan region!
Nights ~ having lost its home base and many of its board members ~ took time off to regroup and reorganize.
festival remains in our annals as:
Lost Russian Winter Festival"
~ The Russian Winter Festival 2002 ~
In December of 2002, the Russian Winter Festival took a different turn. Rather than hosting only one afternoon of entertainment, Moscow Nights presented a three-day event that was:
"A Salute to Alexander Pushkin”
... a celebration of the life and work of the Father of Russian Literature. Held at the (former) Downtown Theater of the University of New Orleans, this was Moscow Nights’ most ambitious project to date.
At the heart of
the festival is Natasha O. Ramer's staging of:
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin “The Water Nymph”
... a fairy-tale legend about a girl who risks all for love.
Professor James Falen, one of the foremost translators of Pushkin’s work, translated the play, which is in verse, for Moscow Nights. Georgian composer
Zaza Marjanishvili wrote the original musical score, and
John Rodi, director of the Komenka Ethnic Dance and Music Ensemble, added choreography.
This production, which was performed three times during the festival, marked the first presentation of The Water Nymph to American audiences. Click here to read more about Moscow Nights’ presentation of this play.
In addition to the play, audiences were treated to a lecture by
Dr. Boris Gasparov of Columbia University on the poet’s life and literary significance (click here to read more about this lecture),
as well as theatrical readings of Pushkin’s poetry in both Russian
Through it all,
there was a bazaar in the lobby featuring books by and about Pushkin
(courtesy of Garden District Book Shop), as well as Russian food and
“A Salute to Alexander Pushkin” was made possible by grants from the Arts Council of New Orleans, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Georges Lurcy Charitable
and Educational Trust, and the Arts Administration Program at the University of New Orleans.
~ The Russian Winter Festival 2001 ~
the HUGE success surrounding our First Russian Winter Festival, a Second Russian Winter Festival was presented in January of 2001.
The program for this festival featured yet another bright array of entertainers. Musical guests included the Winter Balalaika Ensemble (with members from Atlanta, New Orleans, Ann Arbor, and Washington DC), Atlanta’s Czar Balalaika Trio, and the Django Reinhardt-inspired Tony Green and Gypsy Jazz.
This year’s festival
opened dramatically, as participant
festival actually began on Toulouse Street just outside the
entrance to Danny O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Cultural Centre and
Pub….There, in front of the pub, white horses clopped their
hoofs impatiently….Musicians in Russian national costumes took
their places in the carriages behind these horses and played
their balalaikas and bayan. In the French Quarter you can see
most anything, but this – only once a year, at the Russian
Irene McCullough wrote an account of the day’s festivities for the BDAA Newsletter. In her reflection of the events, she found herself wondering if the “best part” of the festival could have been
Danny O’Flaherty himself, dressed in Russian costume doing a jig in the back of his pub while Czar Balalaikas brought the house down, then later playing an Irish tune on
Domra, and dancing “Korobushka” with
“That’s right, our emcee
Mikko reminded the audience, “A Russian Festival in an Irish Pub in the
heart of the French Quarter!”
And why not? Isn’t that what you’d expect in a town known as
"The Big Easy"?
Mikko Presents offered performances of poetry, storytelling, and language games.
O. Ramer, singing gypsy favorites, and the dancers and singers of the Komenka Ensemble rounded out the festival’s list of performers, while several “market waifs” made their presence known at the bazaar.
This festival was made possible through generous grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust, Danny O’Flaherty, and Stolichnaya Vodka.
~ The Russian Winter Festival 1999 ~
(The First Russian Winter Festival)
In January of 1999, to the surprise of passerby tourists and the delight of locals, Moscow Nights brought a bit of borscht to the French Quarter with its first Russian Winter Festival.
The afternoon-long celebration of all things Russian took place at O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Centre and Pub thanks to the generosity of club owner
Danny O’Flaherty. Participants strolled from table to table eating Slavic delicacies, admiring (and often buying) Russian shawls, jewelry, books, crafts, and, of course, colorfully painted nesting dolls.
While most New Orleans
festivals rely on live music to bring in the crowds, this festival
stood out for the variety of its entertainment. With local actor and
producer Mikko acting as Master of Ceremonies, the
packed program included theatrical sketches from
Gogol’s "Inspector General",
Evgeny Shvarts’ "The Shadow", and
Marshak’s "The Lady Cat-Catastrophe".
Under the direction of
Natasha O. Ramer, actors Mikko,
Tristan Codrescu, Eva Earls,
Blunt, Mage Macchione,
Billings, and Mara Cooper brought the
scenes to life.
There was an assortment of dance performances, ranging from folk to modern. Audiences were treated to “No More Barricades” performed by
Barbara Hayley; Hayley’s dance company,
New Orleans Dance Collective, performed “Khodiat Khoni” and the original choreography “Malchiki.”
Two original choreographies of Russian character dance -- “Karusel” and “Khorovodnaia” – were performed by the Komenka Ethnic Dance and Music Ensemble under the direction of
John Rodi and
Daniel Gianfala. Original choreography was created by the famous
Boris Moiseev, an artist who came to New Orleans and stayed here awhile.
And, of course, there was music. The Komenka singers serenaded outdoor crowds with Slavic standards from the balcony. Our special guests from Atlanta,
Irene and David McCullough on balalaika and guitar, took to the indoor stage with “A Stroll Through Moscow”. At the end of the program,
Natasha Ramer performed a series of Russian
Romances with an all-star music ensemble comprised of the McCullough's,
Misha Kachkachishvili (Bassist),
Neti Vaan (Violin), and
Bart Ramsey (Piano / Accordion).
Irene McCullough wrote about this first festival, from beginning to finale, for the
BDAA Newsletter, the official publication of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America. Her report noted, among other things:
Guests were invited to celebrate the New Year in the Russian spirit, encouraged to show up before the two shows to sample the food bazaar and art exhibit. Greeted by a Russian maiden in white sarafan, guests wandered through the old building’s entranceway to a charming back courtyard to mingle and revel. Thanks to
Ray Kane, America’s most sought-after
Bass Domra player, guests were never without trays of warm pirozhki….The vodka kiosk was quite active as well, and tables overflowed with Russian sandwiches and delicacies. Local artists from the Russian community had their paintings and jewelry creations on show, and the Pub’s Celtic Store was, for the day, a Russian boutique.
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