Celebrating Traditions at Northwest Folklife Festival’s Romanian Showcase

For the Romanian community, the year 2018 is special. It marks the anniversary of 100 years since the Great Union of December 1st, 1918, the date that was later declared the National Day of Romania. Events throughout the year, one of which takes place as part of Northwest Folklife Festival, celebrate the historical fact and its significance for the Romanian people.

The Romanian Showcase on May 26th is bringing to stage through song and dance the story of the union. It’s a story as old as the people inhabiting the land neighboring the Black Sea and surrounding the Carpathian mountains. Almost 100 years B.C., king Burebista united the different Getae and Dacian tribes in the area. The union was short-lived and took another 1,700 years until Michael the Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazul) achieved the same feat in the year 1600, again for a very short period. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the political situation was favorable for a lasting union. In 1859, by electing the same ruler in both Moldavia and Wallachia, the two countries officially became one and the new country was named Romania. Later on, during World War I, provinces populated by Romanians decided one by one to join the kingdom of Romania, after exiting the influence of neighboring empires: Dobrogea, Basarabia, Bucovina, Transylvania. It all culminated with a gathering on December 1st, 1918, when more than one hundred thousand representatives from all provinces, some of which had traveled by foot for hundreds of miles, witnessed the official declaration of the union in Alba Iulia.

Besides the historical facts, the story is one about people. It took sacrifices during the war to get to the point where the union was possible, men giving their life for this goal. It’s also a story of joy, the joy of being free, of sharing old traditions with your fellow compatriots, of dancing to the same tunes and speaking the same language unencumbered.

The Romanian Showcase will feature dances and songs from the historic provinces, brought to stage by Datina Folk Ensemble and its guests, Radost Folk Ensemble and Orchestrar RTW. Datina is a local non-profit organization focused on traditional dance and music of Romania. It was founded in 2013 and since then has grown to include a dance group for adults, one for children, Datina Junior, and a traditional music band, Taraful Datina. Radost and Orchestrar RTW have been sharing for decades with audiences from the Seattle area the dances and music of the Balkans.

The program at Folklife will include glimpses from the life of the traditional Romanian village, as it might have been passed on from generation to generation: the sadness of separation from the loved ones, but also the joy of the harvest, of weddings and of celebrating together a historic feat, through one of the most cherished of the Romanian dances, Hora Unirii:

“Let’s link our hands

All those who have a Romanian heart,

To spin together in the dance of brotherhood,

In the land of Romania.”

The Romanian Showcase at Northwest Folklife Festival happens on Saturday, May 26th, 11 AM, at Cornish Playhouse in Seattle Center. Follow DATINA Seattle on Facebook for other events celebrating the Great Union, such as the Romanian Cultural Festival at the Maryhill Museum of Art in September, or the fifth edition of the show Romanian Winter in December.

Article courtesy of DATINA Seattle