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Lithuanian dances, music, literature, writers, theatre, traditions.

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1 Lithuanian dances, music, literature, writers, theatre, traditions.
Prepared by Kaunas Jonas Jablonskis gymnasium, form 1a.

2 Dances Since ancient times the dance has been inevitably accompanying all important events in the life of the people. The life of the Lithuanian nation, its character and morals are reflected in the content of Lithuanian dance. Every movement and step has it purpose. They always mean something or show something. It is even the slightest change of mood that can expressed by movement of the dance. By creating a dance, people without realizing it create beauty as well. Dances distinctiveness depends upon the originator as well - whether it has been created by man or woman. Lithuania has basically been an agricultural country; therefore folk art primacy belonged to women and was related to the scale of feminine themes (for example, works done by women only).

3 Dances The genre of the traditional folk dance is still alive. People used to learn dances from parents or grandparents whose lives have been still greatly influenced by customs and traditions and who mastered dancing folk dances directly from their parents in outdoor country parties. Folk ensembles, who still participate in folklore collection expeditions in rural areas willingly dance these dances. Looking still further back into the history, dance was also a part of ancient Lithuanian calendar celebrations and rituals. Lithuanian folk choreography can be classified into four groups: polyphonic singing dances, ring or circle dances, games and other dances.

4 dances Polyphonic singing dances (Sutartinių šokiai) - are unique archaic polyphonic songs. About a third of these songs have accompanying dance elements. The movements are quite simple and easy to perform. Three or four women perform a circular or quadrille type dance as they sing. Ring dances, circles (Rateliai) - The number of participants in such a dance is unlimited. The dancer themselves sing the lyrics without any instrumental accompaniment. Stepping around in a circle, the participants perform various movements which sometimes illustrate the song’s text. But usually, these are just simple movements repeated again and again: linking elbows and turning, weaving circles, and other figures. Games (Žaidimai). Dancee-games are rarely sung, and when they are, they do not follow strict rhythmical patterns. These game hinge on creative improvisation, spoken text or dialogue, and the performance of “tasks”. Some types of games are quite similar to ring dances. Dances (Šokiai). These dances are accompanied by instrumental music and sometimes singing as well. Separate pairs dance in loosely structured form space while only group follow a large plan. Dances consist of consecutively repeated movements, steps and figures.

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6 Music If you were to ask a Lithuanian about his country's traditional culture, you would most likely hear about Lithuanian songs and love of singing. Only a few decades ago, most women of Dzūkija (Southern Lithuania) still knew a hundred songs; the most accomplished singers remembered as many as four hundred. Songs were handed down from generation to generation, exchanged among villages and changed or augmented during these processes. Lithuanians, generally not known for outwardly expressive natures, would say that their folk songs reflect a broad spectrum of moods, but usually stop short  of extreme  joy or  deep sorrow. Lithuanian songs  depict the more dignified aspects of family and community relationships as well as contacts with nature.

7 Music From ancient times, the guardians and creators of Lithuanian songs have been women, therefore it is not surprising that they often reflect female points of view. Some song genres are widespread throughout all of Lithuania. Wedding songs are the most popular type throughout Lithuania; several of them have as many as 1000 recorded variants. Popular throughout all of Lithuania are children's songs, feast songs, and songs dealing with themes of youth, love and family. Dzūkija (Southern Lithuania) boasts the richest wealth of songs in Lithuania, representing many genres and variations of melody types. Archaic antiphonic songs performed by two alternating groups of singers were also native to this area.

8 MUSIC Spring marathon of musical festivals is kicked off by an elite Vilnius Festival with the most prominent classical music ensembles and jazz masters from all over the world participating each year. The venue then passes the baton to Pažaislis Festival of Classical and Sacred Music. Pažaislis Monastery, a genuine masterpiece of Baroque architecture in Lithuania, features central concerts of the festival; other performances are commonly held in churches and abbeys. The musical waves of the Christopher Summer Festival floods Vilnius and its environs with summer concerts. The festival skilfully blends the classical masters with avant-garde escapades, the cycles of piano and organ music with guitar performances. Altogether, festivals offer over 100 unique performances every year.

9 MUSIC Expect fireworks of jam sessions at an international Kaunas Jazz Festival, Blues Nights on the Lūkstas Lake, Vilnius and Klaipėda jazz festivals. Excellent local jazz performers always make a fantastic discovery for those, who are unaware of the country's jazz traditions. In the memory of the world-famous performer, jazz lovers in Lithuania erected a monument to Frank Zappa. At least ten international folklore festivals are held during the summer months. Their performances attract crowds of spectators, dozens of ethnic congregations, hundreds of folk art exhibitions. Every four years, The Festival of Song (and Dance) gathers Lithuanians from all over the world into a colossal nationwide event of unsurpassed exuberance. The song festivals of the three Baltic countries are jointly included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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11 Literature Lithuania is not only known for amazing basketball players and beautiful girls. Lets remember the true beauty. The beauty that can’t be reached so easily. The beauty, that is admired by people and protected from the cold gun to harm it. The Lithuanian word has the exact kind of beauty. The cherished language that was saved after so many centuries. The beauty that could never be replaced. Lithuania’s literature went through a bumpy road in order to survive. The banishment of books while Lithuania was occupied gave a motivation for young minds to become writers – they wanted to show how much they have patriotism and how much they love their country. Those times were one of the roughest for Lithuanian literature.

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But now we find all the bookshelves filled with amazing Lithuanian literature for all people. Petras Cvirka, the creator of Lithuania’s anthem, writes amazing tales for little children while Balys Sruoga prefers to write his experience while he was a prisoner in the dreaded concentration that is not suited for young minds. But some of the writers, like Salomeja Neris writes beautiful poetry for your children and for your parents as well. All of these people gave their best to cherish the beautiful Lithuanian language and to publish many fantastic books that are immortal. Jurgis Savickis is an individualistic writer, who sought to make the fiction free from ideology, who radically modernized Lithuanian prose and its themes, problems, and style; creator of irony, mask and paradox in Lithuanian literature; the vanguardist. Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas is an autoreflexive narrator of philosophical outlook, the writer of symbolist forms and realistic psychological generalizations, an author of the first Lithuanian psychological intellectual novel, a creator of philosophical lyrics. Also a literary critic, historian and esthetic. Balys Sruoga is a poet, prose and play writer, historian and critic of the theater. An innovator of Lithuanian lyrical tradition, creator of impressionist poetics. An author of historical plays. A prisoner of nazi concentration camp Stutthoff, author of original book about his experiences there.

13 Writers Bernardas Brazdžionis is a modern neoromantic, a poet or oratorical engaged trend, who blends the folklore experience with cultural and biblical associations, and combines syllabo-tonical versification with blank verse in his poetry. Kazys Binkis is the first vanguardist in Lithuanian literature who went all the way from the traditional verse to the shocking futurist expressionist stylistics and back to the tradition. A creator of verses, folklore poems, and plays. Antanas Miškinis is a poet of modern neoromantic style, whose programme sought to blend the poetical and spoken languages, who conversed the folklore tradition into literary culture, blended the melodic experience with vanguardist poetics. Ieva Simonaitytė is a writer from Klaipėda district, regionalist and autodidactic. A writer of autobiographic tales and novels, she depicted everyday life and exceptional destinies of "lietuvninkai" - Lithuanians from Lithuania Minor. Petras Cvirka is a realistic writer of social orientation, a master of colourful word. An author of psychological social, satirical and folklore novels, stories; also a children writer. Vytautas Mačernis is a poet who died young, a member of anthology "The Earth". His verses are of tragic premonition and also of philosophical peacefulness. He was a poet of strong visionary imagination, who sought to renew the forms of poetry.

14 Writers Salomėja Nėris (Bačinskaitė-Bučienė) - is a most prominent Lithuanian lyricist who lived through harsh existential experiences. She was a poet of romantic outlook who renewed a tradition of melodious verse, poetical experience of nature, the ties with the folklore, and perfected Lithuanian lyrical miniature. Henrikas Radauskas is a poet of individual poetical outlook, esthete and constructivist of form. He conceals his despair under the mask of irony. He wielded together the experience of neoromantics and vanguardists, created his verse as a hermetic and autonomous structure, kept to the requirements of versification. Kazys Boruta was a narrator of rebel spiritual nature, anticonformist in his life and works. A writer of expressionist, energetic verse, author of innovative folklore novels. A versificator of Lithuanian folk tales, author of travel books and humorous stories. Juozas Grušas is an author of stories on existential topics and plays of various types. He wrote according to the tragic and tragicomic principle. Characteristic of his works are moral problems and moral self-consciousness. In his style he blended the constructive form and the power of generalization. Henrikas Nagys is a member of "The Earth" anthology and a critic in "Literary meadows" journal. He modernized the poetical tradition of folklore, described the dramatic situation of a poet in emigration. Nature takes a significant place in the expressively contrasted picture of his verse. Janina Degutytė is a romantic maximalist among the new Lithuanian poets. She continued and modified the tradition of melodic lyrics of Salomėja Nėris. A creator of lyrics about nature and of miniatures on the themes of nature.

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16 Theatre The first drama play in Lithuania was performed in 1570, at the theatre of the Palace of the Rulers. Theatre company of the Vilnius University(Jesuits’ College at that time) was born in the same year. Currently, Lithuania has 13 national theatres (8 drama theatres, 2 puppet-shows, 3 musical theatres) and 10 independent theatres and stage art formations. Lithuanian artistic directors are well-known and highly respected in the world. Eimuntas Nekrošius, a master of philosophical and visual expression, has boasted a title of the best European artistic director for several years already: all theatre lovers dream of seeing his Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello by William Shakespeare, or his latest work, The Song of Songs.

17 Theatre At least as famous is Oskaras Koršunovas, an artistic director of his own avant-garde theatre. In a relatively short time, his plays collected awards at the most prestigious theatre festivals all around the world; his theatre company is a permanent participant of the Avignon Theatre Festival. Apart from these, country's theatres are alive with many talented directors and actors, who will sure make your day with meaningful or joyful performances. Lively and colourful is the movement of amateur theatres – there are nearly 1,500 amateur theatre companies in the country.

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19 Traditions Lithuanian Traditions are unique like any other country and has been the part of Lithuania society and culture from the medieval period to the modern times. Although the society has changed moderately yet the ancient Traditions and Customs of Lithuania remained the same and is largely practiced by the Lithuanians. The celebrations of family occasions are unique and is typical of a particular family. Anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated within the confines of family members while some celebration are attended by large number of individuals. Generally christening, funerals and weddings are attended by large groups and the Funerals mainly draws huge crowd other than the blood relations and known person. Unknown people attends the funeral and in past weddings were also attended by unknown people.

20 traditions Mothers Day is also one of the family occasion and mother holds a special place in family and society. Wedding ceremony in Lithuania is held very traditionally and the wedding feast is firstly held in the bride home and later moved to the grooms home. The family celebration in Lithuania are: The Wedding Eve Wedding Eve Songs The Rue Christenings Mother's Day Funeral Funeral Hymns

21 Traditions Christmas Eve is the major celebration and the festival is celebrated according to the Lithuanian Traditions. Preparation starts many days prior to the arrival of the festival and is followed by home cleaning, home decorating, buying new clothes, giving gifts to the children along with the preparation of delicious sumptuous meal. The greatness of Lithuanian Traditions lies in the fact that they have maintained their traditions exactly the same way till date.

In another time, long ago lived an old man and his wife. Both of them had twelve sons and three daughters. The youngest being named Egle. On a warm summer evening all three girls decided to go swimming. After splashing about with each other and bathing they climbed onto the riverbank to dress and groom their hair. But the youngest, Egle, only stared for a serpent had slithered into the sleeve of her blouse. What was she to do? The eldest girl grabbed Egle’s blouse. She threw the blouse down and jumped on it, anything to get rid of the serpent. But the serpent turned to the youngest, Egle, and spoke to her in a man’s voice: -Egle, promise to become my bride and I will gladly come out. Egle began to cry how could she marry a serpent? Through her tears she answered: -Please give me back my blouse and return from where you came, in peace. But the serpent would not listen: -Promise to become my bride and I will gladly come out. There was nothing else she could do; she promised the serpent to become his bride. After three days the family saw that every serpent in the land had come to their farm, bringing with them a wagon. The whole family was scared, while all the serpents began to slither around in wild abandon. One of the serpents entered the house to meet with the old man, Egle’s father, and to discuss the terms of the union. At first the old man hemmed and hawed, refusing to believe that this could be happening; but when all the serpents in the land have gathered in one man’s farm it does not matter how one feels, so he promised to give his youngest and most beautiful daughter over to the serpents. But the old man held treachery in his heart. He asked the serpents to wait a little while; as quickly as he could he ran to the local wise woman and told her everything. The wise woman said:

-It is easy to trick a serpent, instead of your daughter give him a goose and send the wedding presents. The old man did as the wise woman advised. He dressed a white goose in Egle’s clothing, and together father and ‘daughter’ climbed into a wagon and began their journey. A short while later they heard a coo-coo bird in a birch tree, singing: -Coo-coo, coo-coo, you have been tricked. Instead of a bride, he has given you a white goose. Coo-coo, coo-coo! The serpents returned to the farm, and angrily threw the goose out of the wagon and demanded the bride. The parents, on the advice of the wise woman, dressed a white sheep up. Again the coo-coo bird sang: -Coo-coo, coo-coo, you have been tricked. Instead of a bride, he has given you a white sheep. Coo-coo, coo-coo! The serpents return to the farm in great anger and again demanded the bride. This time the family gave the serpents a white cow. The coo-coo bird tells the serpents of the father’s deception and again the serpents return -but this time in a towering rage. The serpents threatened famine for the disrespect shown by the parents. Inside the house, Egle cried. She was dressed as was appropriate for a bride and was given over to the serpents. While taking Egle to her future husband the serpents heard the coo-coo bird sing out: -Drive, hurry, the groom awaits his bride!

Eventually Egle and all her chaperones came to the sea. There she met a handsome young man who was waiting for her by the beach. He told her that he was the serpent that had crawled into her sleeve of her blouse. Soon, they all moved to a nearby island, and from there they descended underground, under the sea. There could be found a lavishly decorated palace of amber. It was here that the wedding was held, and for three weeks they drank, danced and feasted. The serpent’s palace was filled with guests, and Egle finally calmed down, became happier and completely forgot her homeland. Nine years went by and Egle gave birth to three sons -Azuolas, Uosis and Berzas - and a daughter - Drebule - who was the youngest. One day while playing the eldest son asked Egle: -Dearest Mother, where do your parents live? Let’s go and visit them. It was then that Egle remembered her homeland. She remembered her parents, brothers, and sisters. And she began to wonder if life was good to them; are they healthy? It had been a long time and maybe they were all dead. Egle desperately wanted to see her homeland. It had been many years since she saw that land of her birth; she yearned to see it again. Her husband, the serpent, did not even want to listen to her entreaties. -Fine, he said, go and visit but first spin this tuft of silk, and he showed her the spindle. Egle was at the spindle. She spun during the day, she spun all night. Spin, spin but it would not be spun. She saw that she had been tricked. Spin, spin but it will never be spun. Egle went to an old woman who lived nearby, a known soceress. Egle lamented:

-Grandmother, dear heart, teach me how to get that tuft of silk spun. The old woman told her what to do and what was needed for the task: -Throw it into a fire when next it is kindled, elseways you shall not be able to spin the silk. Having returned home, Egle threw the silk into a bread oven, recently fired up. The silk went up in flames and in the centre of the oven where the silk once was there was a toad. The toad was creating silk, from its body. Having woven the silk, Egle returned to her husband pleading to allow at least a few days for a visit with her parents. Now, her husband drew out from beneath his bench a pair of metal boots. -When you wear these down, then you shall travel. She put on the boots and walked, stomped, and even dragged along the stone floor, but the boots were thick, hard and were not at all worn down. Walk or do not walk the shoes will forever last. Going back to the sorceress, she pleaded for more help. The old woman said: -Take them to a blacksmith and ask that he wear them down in his furnace. And Egle did as she was instructed. The boots were heated well and within three days, Egle had worn them down. Having worn the boots down she approaches her husband so that he may allow her to visit her homeland. -Fine, said the serpent, but for the journey you must bake at least a rabbit-pie for what shall you give to your brothers and their children?

In the meanwhile the serpent ordered that all the cooking utensils be hidden so that Egle not be able to bake the pies. Egle began to think how shall she bring in water without a bucket and make the dough without a bowl. Again, she returns to the old lady for advice. Grandmother says: -Spread out the sifted leavening, immerse the sieve into water, and within it mix the dough. Egle did as she was instructed; she mixed, baked and had the pies ready. Now, she bid a farewell to her husband and went out with the children to her homeland. The serpent lead them part of the way, and got them across the sea and said that she be no longer than nine days in her homeland and that she is to return at the end of those nine days. -When you return go alone, just you and the children and when you approach the beach then call for me: -Zilvine, Zilvineli, If alive, may the sea foam milk If dead, may the sea foam blood.... And if you see coming towards you foaming milk then know that I am still alive, but if blood comes then I have reached my end. While you, my children, let not the secret out, do not let anyone know how to call for me. Having said that, he bid farewell to his family and wished for them a swift return. Returning to her homeland, Egle felt great joy. All her relatives and in-laws and neighbours gathered round. One after another asked many questions, how did she find living with the serpent to be. She just kept describing the many aspects of her life. Everyone offered their hospitality, their food and good talk. She was in such great spirits that she did not even feel the nine days pass.

At this time Egle’s parents, brothers and sisters began to wonder how to keep their youngest amongst their midst. They all decided -they must question the children, how their mother having arrived at the beach would call for her husband. So that they could go down to the seashore, call for the serpent and kill him. Having agreed upon this, they called upon Egle’s eldest, Azuolas and praised him. They cornered him and questioned him but he said that he did not know. Having failed they threatened the child to not tell his mother of their actions. The second day they led out Uosis, then Berzas, but from them too the adults could not get the secret. Finally they took Drubele, Egle’s youngest, outside. At first she did as her brothers, claiming to not know the secret. But the sight of rod frightened her, she told all. Then all twelve brothers took their scythes with them and went towards the sea. Standing at the shore they called: -Zilvine, Zilvineli If alive, may the sea foam milk If dead, may the sea foam blood... When he swam up, then all the brothers fell to chopping the serpent to pieces. Then, returning home, they kept the secret of their deeds from Egle. Nine days passed. Egle, bidding farewell to all the family and friends, went off to the sea and called for her serpent.

The sea shook and floating towards Egle was foam of blood. And she heard the voice of her beloved husband. -Your twelve brothers with their scythes cut me down, my call was given to them by our Drebule, our most beloved daughter! With great sorrow and thundering anger Egle turned to her children and said to Drebule: -May you turn into a willow, May you shiver day and night, May the rain cleanse your mouth, May the wind comb your hair! To her sons: -Stand, my sons, strong as trees, I, your mother, will remain a fir. As she commanded so it came to be: and now the oak, ash and birch are the strongest of our trees, while the willow to this day will shake at the slightest whisper of a wind for she quaked before her uncles and gave away her true father.


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