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Russian Festival returns to WMU Fetzer Center

Oct. 20, 2005

KALAMAZOO--The Kalamazoo Russian Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary with Russian cuisine, music, dance, art, drama, literature and crafts for the whole family from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in the Fetzer Center at Western Michigan University. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for students age 13 and older and $2 for children age 12 and younger.

A separate concert begins the celebration at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, in WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall. Performers include Gennady Zut, an acclaimed balalaika virtuoso in his native Russia; and Golosa, a Russian folk choir from the University of Chicago, singing secular and sacred songs. Rounding out the evening are violist Igor Fedotov and baritone Carl Ratner, both members of the WMU music faculty. General admission tickets for the concert are $15 and include free admittance to the Kalamazoo Russian Festival the following day.

From modest beginnings in 1995 as a local "backyard event" at a private home, the Kalamazoo Russian Festival has grown rapidly and now attracts visitors from Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

For the younger crowd during Saturday's festival, the Kalamazoo International Dancers and Natasha Johnston, formerly of St. Petersburg, Russia, will teach Russian dances to all ages. WMU students will dramatize Russian fairytales and Russian jugglers will perform. Russian-themed arts and crafts activities also will be available.

Offerings in Russian literature include author Judith Rypma, a member of the WMU English faculty, reading poems from her collection "Holy Rocks" as well as others inspired by her many trips to Russia. WMU's Scott Friesner will offer a lecture on Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment." Also offered is a film viewing of Anton Chekhov's famous short story, "The Lady with the Pet Dog."

Other festival activities include an art gallery with an exhibit of paintings from the Russian Cultural Center of Washington, D.C., batik artwork for sale from the Pavlovsk Art School for the Deaf, a silent auction and Russian cuisine to sample.

For those interested in adopting, Mary Holtapp from Bethany Christian Services will hold informal talks on Russian adoptions based on her personal experiences.

"The Kalamazoo Russian Festival is sponsored by the Kalamazoo-Pushkin Partnership, an organization started in 1992 with an agreement between Kalamazoo and Pushkin, Russia, to exchange cultural, medical and business ideas," says Jerolyn Selkirk, festival director.

"Each year, the proceeds from the festival help various humanitarian organizations in Pushkin. Projects include a women's health clinic, the Pavlovsk Art School for the Deaf, an orphanage and the Turner Institute, a hospital for children with orthopedic problems."

Co-sponsoring the annual festival, which is now in its second year on the WMU campus, are the University's Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies and Department of English.

For more information about the Kalamazoo Russian Festival or the Kalamazoo-Pushkin Partnership, contact Jerolyn Selkirk at (269) 665-9554 or online at www.russianfestival.org.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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