Tag Archives: festival

Ethno-cultural festival

Today I came into town to do an interview (which went very well thank you) (see even working at weekends, now that’s dedication for you) and walked through the Stefan cel Mare park to my destination and found a very big festival going on. The park has a big fountain in the middle with lots of paths emanating away from it like a giant spider diagram (spot the former OU student) and down each path were lots of stalls relating to the different nationalities and ethnic groups who live in Moldova. After the interview I went back and explored, and took lots of pictures. There were lots of people wearing various national costumes, and music and food and books and knick-knacks and flags and balloons and colours and smells and all sorts of things on display. Groups I counted were (in no particular order): Russians, Ukrainians (including an amassed youth accordion band which surely must have heralded the entrance to Hell itself, but fortunately they weren’t playing when I walked past), Bulgarians, Belorussians, Greeks, Jews, Roma, Uzbeks, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Polish, and the Lithuanians/Latvians/Estonians/Germans were lumped together for some reason. There were also stalls for the African-Asian association of Moldova, and by UNHCR staffed by refugees from various places (Somalia, Chechenia, etc).* It really was fascinating. There was a stage where various music and dancing was going on – I saw an Eurovision-esque Ukrainian power ballad singer, some Azeri dancers, some traditional a capella singers (not sure where from), and some gypsy dancers waiting in the wings. I chatted with a couple of girls from the Polish young peoples’ cultural centre (or something like that), and bought a CD from one of the Roma stalls. The one thing I was really sad about was that, despite all this celebration of diversity and ethnic culture, the Roma (ie gypsy) stalls were right on the edges, and nobody was going anywhere near them. I did try to chat with the guy who was selling the CD, but he didn’t speak Romanian, although he did manage to figure out that I was asking him how to pronounce the singer’s name so that was good (I hope I remember!). I also took some really nice pictures of some of the gypsy dancers with their amazing dresses – I hope they come out well when I download them. The Roma community is very small here, much smaller than in Romania and elsewhere in eastern Europe, but it seems even here they’re despised and ignored. It’s so sad.

* ETA: And the Gagauzi! They were there too!

Blacker than Copsa Mica

Copsa Mica is a little town in Romania which is notorious for being thoroughly polluted (there’s some chemical factory or somesuch there which spews out all sorts of chemical delights over the neighbouring area). I read once years ago that life expectancy there is the lowest in Romania, and also that it’s pointless hanging out your washing because it gets blackened by soot whilst out on the line. The Rough Guide to Romania refers to it as “filthy” and I remember years ago being on a train which happened to stop at Copsa Mica station, and noticing that, well, it really didn’t smell very good there.

Yesterday a rock music festival started here, for 3 days, and one of the local papers said that for these 3 days Sibiu will become “blacker than Copsa Mica”. The festival is called ArtMania, and it is the largest rock festival in Romania, featuring bands with names like “Anathema” and “Within Temptation” (or maybe it was “Without Temptation”, I forget). Certainly I have to say I have noticed a huge number of goths and various others in black t-shirts and eyeliner wandering around the place – in fact yesterday, when I was dressed in a dark blue top and a dark blue skirt, I felt distinctly colourful.

I also felt distinctly old.

Fanfara Ciocarlia

Oh.My.Goodness.

The best live concert I’ve been to for ages. They were absolutely fantastic. If they ever appear anywhere near you, do whatever you can to get a ticket. Absolutely bloody brilliant.

They do the traditional Romanian gypsy music, with the most unbelievable energy – I started off really chuffed that I was sitting in the front row, but once people started dancing I gave up my seat and joined them. They played for nearly 2 hours, it was exhausting! They also had a guest singer, a Macedonian gypsy singer called Esma Redzepova, who was equally incredible. She was rather vast and wore the blingiest gold dress I’ve ever seen (it’s not too easy to see in the pictures), but I thought she was beautiful – really smiley, and with the most incredible voice. That was such an awesome concert, I’m still on a high.

Here are some of the (many) pictures I took. The “TIFF” at the front of the stage stands for “Transilvanian International Film Festival” which is going on this week, this event was part of that (the festivals seem to be quite broad in the events they put on – like the theatre festival last week, there seems to be a fair bit of live music attached to this festival too).

Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07
Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07
Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07Fanfara Ciocarlia concert, Piata Mica, 6 June 07

In other news, when I got home from the concert last night I noticed a small bruise on my ring finger. I didn’t remember hurting it, but I put my ring on another finger just in case it swelled up overnight. This morning it had indeed swelled, and is now a curious red colour. It doesn’t hurt at all, doesn’t seem infected and isn’t gross and disgusting (unlike certain other fingers I could mention). I shall keep an eye on it – after last year’s shenanigans when I had to go to the hospital here following a yucky insect bite reaction I don’t really want to have to go through that again. Rest assured though, if any grossness and disgustingness and medical treatment ensue, I shall follow Ian’s example and share it with you all (for educational purposes, obviously). Honestly, the things I do for you lot.

Extreme Surreality

I thought I’d post some pictures of some of the culture I’ve seen this past week as part of the Theatre Festival. Most of it was rather normal, but the event I saw last night was the one of the bizarrest things I’ve ever seen.

First up, also bizarre, is the random hairdressing I happened upon in Piata Mica the other day. The hairdressers, as you can see, were dressed and made up, with kimonos made out of bubble wrap (well, of course!).

HairdoHairdo

I already mentioned Shekatak, from Israel, the dance group that were like Stomp! As I was watching them I was thinking about how I would describe them, and had come up with “Like Stomp! but without the pots and pans”. Except as you can see from the second photo, the pots and pans eventually made an appearance too. (They also did that thing where the main guy got the audience clapping particular rhythms and then suddenly made it really complicated so everybody laughed. Stomp! do that too). I should say though, even though they were a bit of a Stomp! copy, they were also very good indeed and I did enjoy this show a lot.

ShekatakShekatak

Next up is a picture of the Bach concert mentioned previously, and three pictures of the flamenco I saw in the early evening yesterday (as an aside, girlinthegarret, the flamenco singer was a dead ringer for Sergio from madchurch). I love flamenco, and remember when I went to Madrid a couple of years back with a couple of friends we wandered into a random bar and found a flamenco show on, just a guy on guitar and two girls dancing (one of whom also sang too) and it was just amazing – really earthy and raw and sexy and incredible. This didn’t quite capture that (probably because it was a big open-air thing rather than a dark smoky bar) but was still fantastic.

Bach B Minor Massflamenco
flamencoflamenco

And then, on to the main event. I only found out about this by accident, but there was an outdoor theatre event on in Piata Mica which was being televised, and which (I think) was a collaboration between German and Romanian actors. Throughout the entire thing I had an overwhelming sense of having no idea what was going on (I think most of the audience did, to be honest) – it started off with historical-type figures, followed by people on stilts with gasmasks, coming into the square, and the stage itself reminded me of War of the Worlds. There were zombies. There was a woman in red pants descending from the “eye” of the spaceship-thingy with a bottle of Coke that everyone got in a frenzy trying to get hold of. Just as I was starting to think that maybe it was an allegory of the promise and hope of capitalism followed by the corrupting reality, two dancers attached by ropes at the chest made a giant cat’s cradle, then there were more zombies, then a woman got hauled up to the “eye” in a plastic bag which filled with water and then she burst from it in a rather obvious birth metaphor moment, and I decided that actually I really didn’t have a clue what it was about after all. I left shortly after this, but as I was crossing Podul Minciunilor (Liar’s Bridge) I looked back and I’m glad I did, as by this point an angel with fiery wings had appeared and then there were some sparkly firework thingies from the legs of the spaceship. I saw someone I knew there, we were both puzzling about what it might mean, and the only thing we agreed on was that the choreographer had probably been on drugs. If anybody randomly reading this was there last night and has any idea at all what it was about, please do leave a comment, I’d love to know!

Outdoor theatreoutdoor theatre
outdoor theatreoutdoor theatre
outdoor theatreoutdoor theatre

Sibiu Theatre Festival

Last night saw the beginning of the 14th Sibiu International Festival of Theatre, so I wandered on over to Piata Mare at 9 for the opening ceremony. The first hour was a group of traditional Japanese drummers, and I was lucky enough to get right to the very front. It was fantastic, really energetic. I took both flash and non-flash pictures, the ones with flash are clearer and more crisp, but it’s the wobblier non-flash ones which convey more of the sheer energy and movement involved. I think this one is my favourite:

Ghostly drummer

Afterwards there was a fantastic firework display, of which I videoed the first 6 minutes (until both my camera battery and my memory card gave up, at the same time). Unfortunately my laptop is objecting to downloading videos from the camera so I shall have to wait till I get back to Scotland and download them onto my PC. I suspect they won’t be the same on a little screen though, but they really were very impressive.

I honestly am doing some work, I promise. Though with lots of free stuff going on with this festival (concluding with the closing ceremony and some theatre/music/drum’n’bass thingy on my birthday) I think I’m going to be burning the candle at both ends a bit if I’m not careful.

In other news, contact lens solution is extortionate here!

PS Arti – nothing too exciting to report about the laundrette, other than they make you wait for 2 days, charge per item (I can’t say I particularly enjoyed watching the woman inspect my dirty smalls so she could count them) and it’s really expensive even with a student discount. So I have bought a bowl and some handwash liquid and am doing it all myself, though I’ll still use the laundrette for big stuff like bedding and towels. It has really made me appreciate my washing machine – yet another thing about home I really take for granted!