Celebration in Leskolovo

Although the
aim of International Roma day is to present a political message, the day
has recently come to be regarded also as a time for celebration.  We
therefore try to create a day that combines celebratory cultural activities, which
promote the need for the integration of Roma children, and that tries
to support communities of Russians and Roma. This year, the Children’s
Creativity Festival took place in the Dom Kulturi (House of Culture)
in the village of Leskolovo in the Vsevolozhsk District of Leningrad

Children from
school No.462 of the Pushkin District of St. Petersburg, from school
No. 3 of Vsevolozhsk, from the school of Nizhniye Osel’ki village in
the Vsevolozhsk District, and the “Red Rose” ensemble from
the Leskolovo Dom Kulturi took part in this year’s festival.

ADC Memorial
tries to support cultural initiatives in the Roma community, and as
such this years festival contained a presentation of a book written
by the talented self-taught Roma-Kelderari writer O.Petrovich: “Barrons
of the Sapporoni Tabor”.  Children acted out various scenes from
the book.  Also, under the direction of V.P Pivovarova the students of
Osel’ki school acted out the tale of the sharp-witted lucky Roma boy
who completed a task set by the Tsar and sought out a valuable ring.
He then refused the reward offered to him and disappeared back to his
Tabor. The students of school 462 from Alexandrovskaya also staged a
humorous tale from O.Petrovich’s book about how a Roma succeeded, through
his own cunning, to return some stolen horses and stop the bewildered

The play “How
the Roma tricked the mayor” performed by pupils from Vsevolozhsk
was the most relevant as far as the audience was concerned, and the performers
were followed off stage by wild applause. The story tells of how a group
of Roma lived for a long time in a town, raising their children and earning
their living by working with metal.  One day, the mayor came to the Roma
and started to chase them out of their homes. The Roma however charmed him
with their songs and dances, so much so that he decided to let them,
their children and their grandchildren live there forever. There was
however one condition: that they should not forget to register their
homes as they are built.

A variety of
pieces were performed at the concert: the first year pupils of the Osel’ki
school performed a Romani song under the direction of their teacher N.G.
Rinovii. Kristina Rik and Dorotea Fasselrinner, two volunteers at Memorial,
led a choir of the older children.  With the help of teacher A.P Konovalova
the fifth years prepared and performed a selection of ball dances. A
group of Roma girls sang a humours folk song about how they do not want
to be married off early and have to run around after children, but about
how it would be better to first study and get a profession.  All performances
were met with rapturous enthusiasm.  The “Red Rose” ensemble
danced so enthusiastically that some of the audience could not contain
themselves, jumped onto the stage themselves, and began to improvise
various dances, trying to out dance each other.

The festival
turned out to be a very jovial affair and was well attended; not only
were mothers and grandmothers there to cheer on the young artists, but
also Roma fathers and the members of the village’s general public. The
human rights activists and representatives of the local administration
wish the Roma residents of the Vsevolozhsk District prosperity, happiness
and health.

Natalia Stalmakova


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