Music and dancing in the East

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After having spent hours and hours at the incredible Kryziu Kalnas (Hill of Crosses) in Lithuania, we headed North. Through our great connections in Liepaja, we got the address and phone number to one of Latvia’s most famous choreographers and folk dancers – Ernest Spics. Not only could he accommodate us in his guesthouse, and park our motor home behind locked doors, he also invited us to evening tea with wide and tall discussions on traditional music and dance, including a dance project where they danced patterns in the traditional woven belts.

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The following day we visited the Russian school where Sergei Olenkin, Russian-Latvian, who is responsible for teaching folk song at the Russian school in Riga. After tea, cinnamon buns and a long and for me completely new kind of vocal warmup we devoted three hours to capture overtones in spring songs, hymns (tropar) and rain songs. A moment of total presence where the common language was limited to about 100 English words.

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Suddenly two eight year old girls came rushing in, sat down on the stool and was singing their hearts out. After a couple of songs they disappeared giggling out of the classroom again. We asked if it really was their lesson. Oh no, said Sergei, they were just wanted to sing a little bit.

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