It’s hard to express how precious dance memories are. It’s not just a sight, a sound, or a feeling… it’s all of them together.
It’s moments… fleeting moments where the beat of the music met the footwork…
Where the fabric of the costumes swirled…
Where the spotlights basked us in a warmth that felt safe on the stage…
Where the music didn’t just fill our ears but entered our bloodstream…
The music of our ancestors… the music of Romania.
Last year I wrote a post called Dancing from Rădăuţi to Regina, where I talked about Romanian culture in Saskatchewan and the Eminescu Romanian Dance Group in Regina.
I’ll always be grateful to artistic director Maestro Petre Bodeutz for his expert instruction and the great gift of dance he gave all of us performers. And I’ll always be grateful to the people I danced with for sharing the experience all those years ago and helping to keep the memories alive.
2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the year I joined the Eminescu Romanian Dancers. I was four years old, and I loved every minute of it. At Christmastime we not only got to perform traditional dances, but we also learned how to sing Romanian Christmas carols.
One of the songs was called Steaua sus răsare (“Up Rises the Star”). If you’d like to hear it, click this link to a YouTube video that has the same words and melody I remember learning.
This is a photo of us singing it in 1978.
In addition to performing in front of an audience, we also went Christmas-carolling to people’s houses and sang both Steaua sus răsare and another traditional song called Sorcova Vesela (Sorcova, vesela/ Să trăiţi/ Să-mbătrâniţi/ Ca un măr/ Ca un păr/ Ca un fir de trandafir/ Tare ca piatra/ Iute ca săgeata/ Tare ca fieru’/ Iute ca oţelu’/ La anu’ şi la mulți ani!)
This YouTube video gives you an idea of the melody and a description of the meaning behind Sorcova:
Sorcova is a folk custom practiced by children individually on New Year’s Day . This is a small branch or stick adorned with differently coloured artificial flowers, called sorcova with which they touch rhythmically and lightly their elders, while congratulating them on the occasion and wishing them a long life and a Happy New Year: Sorcova, the merry sorcova/Long may you live/Long may you flourish/ Like apple trees/ Like pear trees/ In midsummer/ Like the rich autumn/ Overflowing with abundance/ Hard as steel/ Fast as an arrow/ For many years to come/ Happy New Year!
I barely remember the actual singing, but I clearly remember all of us being led to the dining room after our carolling so we could enjoy a feast of Christmas treats. In my little kid’s brain, I always thought we were surprising people when we showed up on their doorstep, but clearly they were expecting us! 🙂
To this day, I like to share the traditional greeting we shouted at the end of Sorcova Vesela – “La anu’ şi la mulți ani!” (loosely translated as “Happy New Year,” literally “The next year and many years!”)
Now I can’t end this post without leaving you with some video of the Eminescu Romanian Dancers in action. I don’t have any video from the ’70s, but I do have some from 1992, when the group travelled to North Vancouver, BC, and performed for King Michael I of Romania. Please enjoy this brilliant performance of Oaș (pronounced “Wash,” named after a region in the northwest part of Romania).
Some of the people in this video and in the photos above are keeping Romanian dance alive to this day through the Miorita Romanian Cultural Society of Regina. As I look back on my memories, I realize that it’s not enough to live in the past. It’s important to look forward to the future as well and pass these cultural traditions on to the next generation.
Thank you to everyone involved with Miorita for both preserving the legacy of the Eminescu Romanian Dancers and creating a new legacy of dances and memories to share for years to come. And, dear readers, if you’re ever in Regina during the Mosaic Festival of Cultures, be sure to check out the Miorita Romanian Pavilion to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Romanian culture in Canada.