Move over "Riverdance." Irish step dancing may meet its match as the flying feet, colorful costumes and high-stepping rhythms of more than 70 Serbian and Balkan performers present a "Celebration of Serbian and Other Balkan Music and Dance" Saturday, May 25 at 3 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.
Sponsored by the MIT Organization of Serbian Students, traditional dances from Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia, as well as dances of the Bulgarian, Bunjevac and Vlachki (Romanian)--ethnic minorities in Serbia--will be performed by troupes from Canada, New York City and Boston. Also, singer and ethnomusicologist Svetlana Stevich will make her North American debut, performing traditional Serbian and Bulgarian love songs.
Given the popularity of folkloric performing arts and the enthusiasm of local performers, co-organizer Djordje Koldzic, a physician at the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, felt he had to put together an "extraordinary event."
Koldzic has been a soloist and assistant choreographer with Branko Krsmanovich, the National Folk Ballet of Yugoslavia. He founded Grachanitsa, a local Serbian and Balkan dance ensemble, in 2000.
"I realized that my dancers here shared the same enthusiasm as my pupils did back home," he said, noting that Grachanitsa "needed to experience the beauties of stage performing."
Koldzic contacted the MIT Organization of Serbian Students and found that they were "not only successful students, but also deeply devoted to the humanitarian work."
"MOST is a comparatively small student group but we try to make up for our size by our efforts," said Mrdjan Mladjan, a sophomore in economics who is president of the Serbian student group. "Our events seek to strengthen the bonds between the Serbian students at MIT and our American friends and the wider international community."
All proceeds from Saturday's event will benefit the Sasha Aleksic Fund for Education, a non-profit organization established to provide financial aid to talented students in Serbia and support the educational infrastructure there. A fund-raising reception for the organization will follow the performance.
Advance tickets are $12 and $8 for students and are available at The Source in the Stratton Student Center or in Lobby 10 from noon to 2 p.m. At the door, tickets will cost $15 and $10 for students. The performance is free for children under age seven. For more information, click here.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 22, 2002.