Tuesday, May 31, 2011
My second snapshot is of Stefan, one of my adult students. Stefan is thirty-three, has an electronics business in the city, and married a fellow associate only a few years ago. He speaks good English, is optimistic and ambitious, and is a genuinely nice person who likes to please. He is cheerful and has a well-developed sense of humor. I learned his story after he and his wife took me to a fine performance of traditional music and dance in Oradea last month. His great passion is dance; he was nearly dancing in his seat at the concert! Indeed for many years he studied traditional dance, danced as the lead in a troupe of performers who were employed by the state theater in Oradea, and wanted to go to the Ukraine to study choreography in a university dance program. Romania, perhaps more than its neighbors, has valued and sustained its traditional dance to a high degree. Many young people are serious about the "old ways" and devote much time to weekly classes taught by masters of traditional dance. Elaborate, expensive costumes are handed down from generation to generation. Stefan wanted to cherish the old, but also learn the new and become a trained choreographer who could bring skills back to his fellow dancers in Oradea. His excellent dancing got him accepted into the program (albeit with a rather haughty attitude toward this Romanian folk dancer), but he needed financial support for a short period of time until a kind of student aid/scholarship would begin. He asked his employer (dance master) if he could continue receiving his regular pay for that time as he started the classes. The master refused. Stefan feels there was some resentment, some jealousy perhaps, and this fellow didn't want to be upstaged. The dream was shattered. BUT Stefan points out quickly that he has not given up dance and along with another dancer/friend, he heads up a summer dance program for young people, using his own native ability in choreography as well as passing down the traditional steps. He's a happy man, as far as I can tell, but he harbors a bitterness, too. He feels his situation was typical of those of so many other bright and talented young people in Romania who not only don't receive encouragement and help, but are often actually held back. No wonder so many leave for other EU countries. Such a loss! I'm glad Stefan is still here and that he's found an outlet for his dance and for helping young people, too.