FREE SPEECH ZONE | First Time ever – Russian Peasant Fashions of the XIXth century


The RCC “Russian Soul” will present a unique program, “Russian Fashion Show”, featuring folk costumes and folk art from various areas of Russia on Saturday, October 16th. The new program of the folk ensemble “Belozer’e”will be premiered at the traditional Russian Tea Party, a family-oriented event that has become a fixture over the last four years. Aside from the premier of the new program, guests will be able to enjoy traditional Russian pastries, pirozhki, filled with meat, cabbage, potatoes, and whatever else volunteer cooks will come up with.

The program is a continuation of the exhibit of the same name, presented at the Hennepin Gallery in September, which gathered excellent comments from the Government Center visitors. Both the exhibit and the show are the result of careful research and planning: the Artistic Director of the RCC, Elena Shurkina, and the General Director, Elena Shurkina, worked with the materials from the Moscow Folklore Association, numerous publications and on-line sources, in order to select costumes and dances to recreate and songs to select.


The show will provide recreations of costumes from the Russian North (Arkhangelsk, Kargopol, Vologda), North West (St. Petersburg, Pskov, Velikij Nogorod), Central Russia (Moscow, Smolensk, Lipetzk, Ryazan’), South of Russia (Don and Kuban’ Kossaks), the Volga area (Kostroma, Nizhnij Novgorod), the Urals and Siberia. All costumes are hand-made, and though few pieces are antique, each is a work of art, stitched and embroidered by the members of the “Russian Soul”. Elena Shurkina, Tatyana Zhukovskaya, and Lyudmila Lobenko, tried to select fabrics and trim as close to the photographs of the authentic folk costumes, as possible. Tatyana, the native of Moscow, is an exceptional craftswoman, whose embroidery and knitting earned her five awards at the MN State Fair 2009, has embroidered the shirts, worn by her grandchildren, Sasha and Gosha Shurkin, as well as the Urals area costume and Moscow “round” sarafan. Lyudmila, who, by her admission, has never dreamed of sewing, is making all her costumes herself – her Kursk-style “zaveska” – apron is a show-stopper, even though the lace is not made by her. Elena Shurkina re-created the majority of the costumes.

Free Speech Zone

The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.

The folk costume is a true expression of the inner creativity, the soul of the people. In the old days one could easily determine not only the area where the person came from, but also the social status, approximate age, and the financial affluence. A sarafan (dress) from a store-bought fabric on a little girl can tell that she is at least 7 years old and has started school, and her family is fairly well-to-do. If one would see a girl from Velikij Novgorod, wearing a headdress, “povyazka” with a richly embroidered “nazatyl’nik”, covering her braid it meant that she is engaged to be married. A wide-brimmed straw hat with a wreath of flowers will point out that the wearer is a young man from Pskov area, looking for a bride. Each detail had a special meaning: colors, embroidery, trim.
The dances and songs, though had some shared features, differed from area to area too. The stately khorovods of the North were, in way, determined by the climate and fashion – a multi-layered costume could weigh up to 40pounds. A tall kokoshnik (headdress) from Kostroma could be 2 feet high and definitely prevented its owner from doing high jumps that many associate with Russian dancing. “Belozer’e’is a truly folk ensemble working on researching and preserving the authentic folk culture, rather than the bastardized show business version that passes for Russian dance and music these days. The only concession to the public tastes is choreography of dances, which originally could last for hours, with numerous dancers repeating the same movements in turn. The ensemble has 17 original dances that were composed strictly according to traditions by the members of the “Belozer’e”.
Unfortunately, Russians have lost many traditions over the course of the XXth century, and though there is a lot of interest in the revival of folk arts, it is still virtually unknown not only abroad, but in Russia as well. “Russian Soul”, a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve and share Russian culture, has been working hard since 2006 on introducing folk arts and crafts to Minnesotans and has reached out to over half a million people through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and master classes.
The “Russian Fashion Show” is a unique program, developed by Elena Kallevig, that would showcase not only traditional songs and dances, but also the folk costumes of particular areas. To our best knowledge, nothing like that has ever been done in Minnesota. Do not miss this opportunity, come and enjoy Russian Art and hospitality on Saturday, October 16th, at 3 PM at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1720 Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis. If you reserve tickets they are $10/person, including a cup of tea and a Russian cookie, $12 at the door. You can reserve tickets via e-mail or phone 612- 465-9309 .Visit our calendar at www.rusculturemn,com for details.