Friday, April 29, 2011

First Dance Recital - or “Mama’s Music Marathon”

Wednesday Sophia had her first dance recital.

She has been studying for the past few months with a well-known Smolensk dance group. 

This month the group celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.

 This recital was part of the Anniversary Concert.
Sophi’s  group performed the first dance and closed the concert with a fun little “dance.”
All the little girls wore big puffy bows . . . 
And little yellow and red skirts.

They were so excited to perform on the big stage!
There they are!  

Can you find Sophia?
Yep, right behind the piano, on the left side.
We caught some good glances of her arms and legs, 
at times.
The festivities started for us a 5pm, 
when Sophi’s group met for a last practice.
The concert started at 6pm.
There were lots of Russian, Polish, Armenian, Jewish, and Ukrainian folk dances.
There were congratulations and gifts and speeches, galore!
There were songs and beautiful costumes.

And, more and more dances . . . 
Finally, at 8:30 pm, it was time for the final “dance.”
It was an extremely long, loud night . . . 

. . . but our children sure had a great time!

It looks like Pooh had a good time, too!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Music Concert and a Great “Got’Cha!”

This past week Sophia and I had a Mother/Daughter outing.  
Well, most of our outings are Mother/Daughter, now that I think of it . . . 
This one was special.
Our Smolensk Philharmonia was hosting, “Children’s Week.”  Each day there was a concert for children.  And, best of all, the concerts were free!
Thursday, Sophia and I dressed in our “day concert best,” caught the tram, and headed to the center of town.
The Smolensk Oblast Philharmonia is located on the city square.  Before the Revolution, it was the noble’s meeting house.

It’s a beautiful building - with grand staircases covered in red carpets . . . 
Large paintings of Russian cultural figures  . . . 
And a concert hall that is warm and bright.  
It’s a room you want to stay and soak in a while.
Sophi chose our seats - right on the very first row.
Ok, now for...

 The Great “Got'cha” Story:
The concert started with some truly wonderful Russian folk songs. 

But, you know, as with most folk music, there were some sounds that we don’t find in classical or pop music - a little more guttural or nasal.
The children giggled.
And, after the selection, some over zealous, happy-to-be-missing-class boys gave a few whistles along with the applause.

Out came the MC for the concert.
He seemed to be a very nice man . . . 
if not, also, a little overly zealous.
I understand, he wanted to nip this uncultured behavior in the bud.  
He wanted to use this opportunity to teach - to give those young ones some behavioral barriers.
He said:   “I like your applause.  But, that whistling has no place here.  Don’t you know who whistles?  That is what the American’s do and we all know American’s are a little crazy (and he does the “crazy sign” next to his head).  We’re Russians, we don’t want to be Americans, do we?
The crowd answers back in loud unison, “NOoooooooo!”
At this point, Sophia looks over at me with wide eyes, 
“MOM, we’re Americans!”  
I say, “Yes, we are!”  with my biggest smile.
See, I already had an idea.
I was  planning something wonderful. . .  
 Can you guess?
After the concert was over and flowers were given to all the composers . . . 
I took Sophia up to the MC and we introduced ourselves.
ME - “Hello, thank you for the concert.  We enjoyed it very much.  I wanted to let you know that there were two Americans in your audience today.”
MC - “Well, please say HELLO to America for me.”
ME - “We live in Smolensk.  My daughter here, Sophia, is 1/2 American and 1/2 Russian.”
MC - (he just now is putting it all together . . . turns a little red, stammers a little)  He looks at Sophia and asks, “How did you like the concert?”
Sophia - “It was good.”
MC - Now, gushing all over us.  “Well, do you want to be a musician?  What instrument do you want to play?”
Sophia - “I want to sing!”
MC - “Well, you must come to me for lessons, then!  Thank you so much for coming to our concert.”
As we walked away, 
he just stood there looking at us sadly, 
waving his hand “Good-bye.”
Really, I meant no harm to this nice man.  
I wasn’t offended in the least by his remarks.
It was just that he walked right into . . . his own personal teachable moment!  
I couldn’t help myself!
Sophia and I had a great Mother/Daughter outing  . . . one we will remember for a long time!
Sophia has the soul of a Russian artist - a performer.  
I’m sure she’ll be on this stage someday . . . 
my little Russian American!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Been Sewing . . .

We have had a couple of good friend’s birthdays this month, so I’ve been busy sewing!  
For Roma, just turned 7:

His own book bag - with a pencil caddy, and some coloring/learning books.
Turning 7 in Smolensk is a big deal in the public transport world -
                                             you have to pay, now!
Anya, Roma’s mom, bought him his first very own transportation pass!  

So, I thought it would be cool for him to have a wallet to carry it in!  (along with a little extra cash - a man’s gotta be ready!)
Our friend, Polina, turned 5 this month.
Remember the doll quilt and pillow I made for her?  
Well, I liked how Roma’s book bag turned out so much that I decided to make one for Polina, too. . . . along with some pencils in her own pencil caddy, and a great coloring book.
And, last but not least . . . 
My crafting buddy, Stacia, is moving far far away.  I know a thing or two about moving long distances and limited packing  . . . so . . . 

I decided to make her a travel wallet!
It’s got places for tickets . . . 
Lots of pockets for passports (cause you know she’ll be carrying the whole family’s!)
And, even a little velcro pocket for things you don’t want to fall out!.
I followed this great tutorial to make it.
In case I haven’t said it in the last 5 min . . . I LOVE to sew!
And, making gifts for good friends that are functional and pretty . . . 
                  well, just can’t get much better for this girl!
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