Blog: “Try Something New!”

“Try something new,” is a motto I live by, and a concept I share with my daughter.  Doing so, allows the world of opportunity to rest at your doorsteps.  In July, my daughter and I tried something new when we attended the Lithuanian Folk-Dance Festival (July 3, 2022).  It was held in Philadelphia this year (on Temple University’s campus, at the Liacouras Center (Center)), and I enjoyed the production immensely.

The program began with an introduction of the dance groups.  They arrived from around the world.  There were 1,003 dancers.   The biggest treat of all was the arrival of the President of the Republic of Lithuania.  Apparently, in the history of the Folk-Dance Festival, such appearances were always left to the First Lady of Lithuania.  How ironic that my daughter and I had something in common with the Presidency of Lithuania.  It was the first year the President of Lithuania had ever attended the Folk Festival, and he shared that notable posture with members of my Family and other first-time participants that warm summer day.

It was nice to sit amongst hundreds of people as they cheered on one-thousand dancers.  My favorite dance was called the “Windmill.”  What started off as rows of male and female dancers, locked arm-in-arm, in separate groups, with each creating the form of a windmill, ended with the combination of all dancers creating one large windmill.  The precision, the choreography, and the excitement of the crowd was memorable. 

It is clear that the festival requires professional planning.  The artistic directors were able to merge motion pictures, stage props, music, and dancers into one vast production, as they told an old folktale.  The story was narrated (periodically) by a Lithuanian grandmother, as she read a bedtime story to her grandson.  The dance performances were elements of the story; and after a four-part, three-hour production, the audience walked away with a sense of family ties and a healthy dose of culture and tradition.

I owe this opportunity to my daughter’s college friend, Anika.  She extended an invitation to my daughter and me.  In addition to completing her college studies, Anika is a member of a Lithuanian Folk-Dance group in Ohio.   She performs around the country, and she will also have the opportunity to dance internationally in Argentina and Lithuania.  I met Anika’s mother and aunt.  They were warm and kind.  The same way many moms and aunts tend to be.  My daughter, Samiya, and I were greeted with hugs, and a few photos were taken in the atrium area of the center.  

During the performance, I reflected on the moment.  I thought about the significance of the scene.  I wondered what it would be like if the various cultures around the world could come together and celebrate their differences, rather than resorting to war and hate.  If positive cultural moments can take place in the halls of our college dorms, we should be able to come together, as humankind, in “halls” all over the world.

Thank you, Anika, for affording me the opportunity to “Try Something New.”


                                                       ~~~Tracy L. Henry is the Author of “Grandma’s House.”


Posted:  August 13, 2022

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