Tourists from Sweden in the New Bazaar as Albanian dancers

Published at : 20/07/2017 - 13:02

One evening at the New Bazaar/ This Wednesday Tirana Regional Council organized the activity "Meet the Tradition" with the invitation: “Join the tourists who know Albanian tradition”. With the help of the Albanian State Ensemble dancers, 15 Swedish tourists learned Albanian dances.
The activity echoed not only the citizens of the New Bazaar’s area, who joined the tourists, but also the national media.
DITA daily newspaper devoted a report to the activity which can be read below.

Tourists from Sweden spend an evening in the New Bazaar as Albanian dancers
Have you ever seen 15 Swedish dancing Albanian folk dance? At the New Bazaar in Tirana on July 5th, women and men from Sweden created a festive atmosphere. The merchants, but also the residents of that neighborhood, were amazed by these tourists from Sweden who passionately performed our dances.
This atmosphere in the Bazaar is not usual and above all it was not casual. This was an event organized by Tirana Regional Council, which in cooperation with Tirana Municipality intends to turn it into a tradition. The Swedish tourist who filled the New Bazaar’s Square on Wednesday evening share the passion for folk dances. Men and women, all over the age of 60, have chosen to make a tour of the Balkans to learn the dances of these countries.
Initially this activity was opened by the talented children dancers under the guidance and training of the dance maestro, Ms. Xhuljeta Manastirli. Then under the direction of the soloist of Albanian State Ensemble, Mr. Genci Kastrati, performed 15 Swedish dressed in Albanian folk costumes. As Genci led and directed the combination of the moves according to the dance, they managed to dance at the same time without having any difficulties.
Their ability made us thinking that they were professional dancers, but no, in the third dance we learned from one of the attendees that they were amateur. What made them so passionate was the love for dancing.
They did not confuse their moves neither while performing Rugova’s dance nor in the Pogonishte’s dance. They tasted the Çam’s dance, as had a lot of fun at the dance of Kukës.
A Swedish dressed as a Gjirokastra’s folk
One of the dancers wearing the Gjirokastra folk costume told us that she liked very much her dress.
It seemed special, by the handmade ornaments and the colors it had. With her blue eyes and blond hair as she talked to us, we thought that she had to have been a beautiful woman in her youth, features that she kept still today. Ms. Bodil Rosengren told us she was 74 years old.

Already at the retirement age she has decided to travel around the world.
Together with her friends, whom share the passion for dances, they have created a group that travels to the places they find interesting in this regard.
“So far we have traveled to some countries, we have been in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, but I like Albania best. People are very nice and friendly. They are all kind and polite. But what has enchanted me in this place is the food. Your food is fantastic! Not only your traditional dishes are fantastic, but you cook excellently even those of other countries. See I’ve gained 3 pounds only in three days here "- said the Swedish smiling.
The lady from Gothenburg explains us that she and her friends are not professional dancers. They are not part of any ensemble; dancing is their passion. These people at retirement age have decided to dance not only the dances of their country, but also those of some other countries of the world, therefore, have taken this tour by stopping these days in Tirana.
The 74-years-old also tells us that she likes the accessories that women hold in our country. As she shows out her hand, she tells us that she has just bought a ring and a pair of earrings.
By the way she explained, it seems to be very happy for this purchase!
The event
The president of Tirana Regional Council and head Municipal Council appreciated this initiative, which is an innovation for our country, but a tradition in many European cities. "Super evening at the New Bazaar, the Swedes overshadowed our dancers. Tirana is now a city where international tourists are passing fantastic moments”, wrote Mr. Aldrin Dalipi on the social networks, a message that was also shared by Mayor of Tirana Mr. Erion Veliaj.
"With the team of Tirana Regional Council, we brought them to Tirana’s newest center, in the “New Bazaar’s” square, transforming the evening of July 5th in a unique experience for sharing the traditional, cultural values of Tirana Region, beyond the borders. It’s unbelievable that in this organization, spontaneously, for about 3 hours, young people and many other citizens became part of a fantastic atmosphere, accompanied by ballet soloists Genci and Helga, ballet dancers and the junior ballet dancers of the passionate maestro Xhuljeta and folk instrumentalists. For Edlira, the master artisan of folk costumes we have a special recognition, for the valuable exhibit that she presented at the event,” emphasized Mr. Dalipi.
He added that these events serve to the promotion of the municipality and the Region of Tirana, to which the institution of Tirana Regional Council is much focused. President of Tirana Regional Council Mr.Aldrin Dalipi welcomed international tourists by praising Tirana that today offers wonderful opportunities as never before for such events; the New Bazaar and “Skanderbeg” Square are fantastic attractions for Tirana that has already crossed the borders flying high.

INTERVIEW with Mr. Genc Kastrati

The man who makes foreigners dance “Albanian”

While orienting tourists on how to throw their steps, the outward appearance convinced us that he himself was Swedish. This blond and fast-moving gentleman made foreign tourists learn our traditional dances for a few minutes. When we approached him, he spoke Albanian. It was Genc Kastrati, the soloist dancer of the Albanian State Ensemble.

In this interview for Dita newspaper he shows us more about this activity, the passion of foreigners to dance our dances and the atmosphere created in the New Bazaar from this organization.
-Mr. Kastrati, what's the "Meet the Tradition" activity?

This idea spontaneously rose in a conversation between passionate art lovers and even more after Albanian folklore. Together with Mr. Fatmir Veleshnja, Culture Specialist at Tirana Regional Council and the artisan master Ms. Edlira Sula, were sharing a conversation that consisted of personal ideas of each of us. I told that since 2010 I have initiated a project for the teaching of Albanian folk dances to foreign tourists interested in them. This conversation took place in the area of newly reconstructed New Bazaar. During the conversation, Mr. Fatmir threw the idea of combining these components; tourists, folklore and the pleasant recreational spaces of the New Bazaar. The idea of “Meet the Tradition” was born by the desire to bring Albanian and foreign tourists together under our common magical inner swing. He immediately presented the idea to Mr. Aldrin Dalipi, President of Tirana Regional Council, who is also a prominent art lover. The support of the idea was spontaneous and willing. The project was enriched and shaped by making available folk costumes for the clothing of foreign participants, as well as an artisan fair from the artisan master Ms. Edlira Sula. The first workshop with a group of tourists, after this conversation, was scheduled in early May. I made it known to tourists in advance if they liked this inclusion one evening at the New Bazaar, dancing folk Albanian dance, dressed in folk costumes, along with other Albanian citizens. They liked it very much, but I can say that after the event they felt exalted, by the music, dances, the costumes, participation, involvement etc. This group of tourists that started "Meet the Tradition" on May 4th, 2017, was composed of Serbian, Brazilian, French, Belgian, Americans etc. The second group of tourists on July 5th was all from Sweden. They didn’t leave the scene of the New Baazar, following dances one after the other until late night. This project turns out to be very attractive for both foreigners and Albanians.

-Due to the fact that they are non-professional dancers, how do they get together...?
These groups of tourists are actually specific, as in the places where they live they join each other for dancing folk dance from their countries and from around the world. After introduced to these groups, the Albanian dances are ranked among the most favorites of many countries in Europe, America and beyond. I was presented with these groups by a very passionate person after Albanian folklore, the Dutch, Cees Hillebrand, who contacted me in 2004, with the idea of this collaboration. After a long work in folklore research and information gathering, the first workshop was made possible in 2010 and was organized annually in Albania, in addition to following invitations coming for workshops outside Albania. I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture for the continuous support provided to the Albanian folk dance projects by the special pavilion created for these tourists at the Gjirokastra’s Festival in 2015 and all the promotional material for tourism that has provided during my travels to different countries of the world, which certainly have influenced making Albania a more attractive place to be visited by dance tourists.
- Are Albanian dances difficult for an amateur?
Albanian dances are relatively difficult, especially for foreigners who are not very familiar with our broken rhythms. Combining the movements of the hands and steps at the same time, which is typical of our dances, is more difficult for them.
–How has the reconstruction of New Bazaar influenced in the realization of these activities?
Apart from the fact that there was a spark for "Meet the Tradition", the New Bazaar offers a very warm and festive environment for these types of events.
-Would this tradition continue with foreign "dancers"?
Certainly yes, as long as it satisfies a great number of Albanian and foreign citizens, it will continue.
What do they say when they come to Albania? What do they think about this place and about our dances?
These tourists come with general information about Albanian folklore and with a great desire to explore more. But before leaving, in last meetings, I realize that their experiences in Albania have always been high above of the expectations before the trip. Everyone who has come once says it will come again. And from my experience of 7 years of organizing such workshops, there are many tourists who have come for the second, third and fourth and …seventh time in Albania. This is a great pride for me as an artist and as an Albanian.
Prepared by: Entela Resuli / DITA newspaper