It's not every day that you might see someone doing a traditional Russian dance in southeast Minnesota, but some kids in Austin were exposed to a different culture Thursday. A nationally-known Russian dance troupe called "Barynya" performed for students at Southgate Elementary. People who came to the show got to see a variety of entertaining dances and forms of music.
Students in the crowd watched as traditional Russian, Ukrainian, and Gypsy Roma dances and songs were performed by the troupe. Performers gave explanations for the cultural significance of each piece. Members of the troupe say they're happy to visit schools in Austin because many students in schools have never seen a Russian or Ukrainian person and they're passionate about sharing aspects of their culture.
"Kids usually are very excited," says troupe leader Mikhail Smirnov, "Especially toward the end of the show, when you ask 'do we have any volunteers to do dance or music?' everybody wants to be a volunteer. All of them are interested. And they're having fun doing Russian folk dancing and playing Russian folk instruments, even singing with us."
Barynya has been performing for elementary and middle school audiences in 40 U.S. states. They say they're coming toward the end of their tour with three and a half weeks left.