This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Radost Folk Ensemble, a local group dedicated to the music and dance of Eastern Europe. Radost was formed by a group of singers, dancers, linguists, folklorists, and ethnomusicologists with an aim not just to replicate a community, but to create community through the joy of music and dance. The Radost 40th Anniversary Concert and Party takes place this Saturday, April 30, at 7 PM at the Shoreline Conference Center. The concert will be followed by an after-party with drinks, music, and the opportunity to dance with the ensemble members. SeattleDances recently spoke with Sidney Deering, Radost’s artistic director, to discuss the upcoming anniversary show.
In the 40 years since The Radost Folk Ensemble was first founded, ensemble members have toured the Balkans, performed school outreach, and taught summer camps with both Spectrum Dance and Teatro ZinZanni. The troupe has performed choreography from Hungarian State Folk Ensemble’s director Sandor Timar, the State Ensemble of Macedonia, Ensemble Tanec’s director emeritus Atanas Kolarovski, and Ensemble Varna of Bulgaria’s lead choreographer Dr. Petar Angelov. Deering herself has won the Gordon Ekvall Tracie Memorial Award from the Ethnic Heritage Council, which is given to ethnic performing artists for contributions to the development and presentation of traditional arts in the local Seattle community. But perhaps their most impressive accomplishments are the generations of dancers that have participated in the ensemble over the years. In this weekend’s anniversary show, multiple generations will dance together, parents performing alongside their children, making Radost not just a community, but a family.
The Anniversary Concert is not just for dance enthusiasts. The festival will feature the Radost dancers, as well as Dunava, a women’s choir; Dave and the Dalmatians, a men’s a capella group; and live music by Orkestar RTW and Druzhba. Radost covers not only a breadth of artistic forms, but also cultures. This weekend alone, the ensemble will perform dances from Bulgaria, Greece, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia, and Croatia. This large repertoire also draws exceptional talent, such as Tanya Ariana Bendis, who has danced with Ballet Bellevue and Eva Stone. In Bendis’ own words, she “joined Radost to continue dancing the folk dances I learned as a child in Croatia. Because of the broad range of cultures of the members of Radost, we as dancers are able to learn dance and song from many countries. This broad variety is what really drew me into Radost, because every day I feel I am challenged as a dancer to learn more.”
To those who know little about Eastern European culture, take Deering’s words to heart: “One of our founding members used to say ’your home village is not necessarily the one you were born in,’ and it’s true in the case of many Radost members whose heritage is not in the Balkans.” Deering commented on the ubiquity of Western Europe in American culture, and the near invisibility of the Balkans and their traditions. Radost shares this heritage and keeps these traditions alive. “Culture cannot be inherited. It must be transmitted,” Deering says. “We must keep dancing our dances, or they will be lost.”
The word “radost” means joy, and that theme is the foundation of The Radost Folk Ensemble. Join them for their performance and after-party, and you will no doubt experience it yourself. Deering offers a hearty “Dobro doshli! Welcome!” to all who wish to experience the joy.