What is a journey? It could be a story, a trip with a certain destination/goal, or it could be how life treats you and you dealing with it. I attended the 15th Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival in Baltimore this weekend and the show’s 1,800 participants took me on a journey that had all of these characteristics. All through the imagery of Lithuanian Folk Dance.
This spectacle sounds strange to people who don’t have an understanding for the heritage. But anyone could find entertainment in watching a stadium floor filled hundreds of bodies constantly skipping, moving, whipping each other around, polkaing, and just having a blast. The constant movement along with the story line made the whole thing feel like a journey. The first act representing the morning with a very lighthearted vibe. Everything from the dances (depicting playful games on the farm, waking up at sunrise, and men flirting with the beautiful women) to the light design that gave the floor a glow of sunrise set the scene for the beginning of a journey. The journey continued in the second act with the dances representing the day’s work. Imagery of clearing trees, planting seeds, spinning thread, washing clothes, and work horses moved the journey along.The third act concluded the journey with the night time. Again, the light design set the scene of a starry night giving it a dream-like vibe. The dances followed this theme with, what the playbill describes as, “the past, present, and future blending” and of course a crazy/fast paced finale. As you can tell, its not so much a story, but a depiction of traditional Lithuanian folk life, which, like I said before, can be considered a journey.
However, throughout this whole show, another journey is being depicted by the two soloists. They are the story aspect of this show. A story of young love. It’s simple but the frolicking together, the passing out of flowers, and the declaration of love made their story really compelling.
While all of this is happening there are television shows and movies about the whole concept of a journey. Movies always have those theatrical stories with characters going through different conflicts and situations. Reality television depicts life as a journey. Showing every aspect of someone’s life and inviting the viewer to come along and join them. But this folk dance festival told these types of stories in a completely different way. That combined with the fact that this whole event brought together thousands of people makes this special and deserving of the Olympic-like status of having it every 4 years.