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By ALAN K. STOUT; Times Leader Staff Writer

Sunday, February 06, 1994     Page: 1D QUICK WORDS: ANDREW BULEZA

wenty-five years ago,
    Andrew Buleza traveled the world as lead male dancer for Duquesne University's famous ensemble of ethnic singers and dancers, The Tamburitzans.
    He remembers staging electrifying, high-energy performances in the former Soviet Union, in South and Central America, and the United States.
    Now he's arranged to bring his successors in the youthful troupe to his hometown.
    The Tamburitzans , currently in their 57th season, will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27 at Irem Temple, Wilkes-Barre. The show is a fund-raising project for Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where Buleza is a member of the board of directors.
    Each year The Tamburitzans present a completely new program of music and dance. With colorful costumes, exotic musical instruments and ethnic charm, their performances depict the traditional culture of Eastern Europe.
    "The shows feature two hours of Eastern European song and dance," Buleza says. "Most people who see the show are amazed at how fast the two hours go by. There's not a word of English spoken throughout the entire show."
    The Tamburitzans, who have conducted 10 overseas tours, serve as traveling ambassadors of good will.
    Buleza, now 46, remembers: "We would spend three months in foreign countries, representing the United States Government, to help the people of the country become more aware of Americans and American ideas.
    "The government does this as a means of softening the temperament of the people in advance of a visit of a dignitary. In my case it was President Nixon. We did the Soviet Union in 1967-68 and Central and South America in 1968-69."
    The Soviet Union gave Buleza fond memories of an often misunderstood people .
    "There were very few Americans being permitted in at that time," he recalls. "I was 19 and was overwhelmed by the compassion and the love of the people of the Soviet Union for foreign visitors."
    His trips to South and Central America left an equally strong, yet different recollection.
    "In South America we saw extreme poverty. People were more concerned about simply existing."
    Despite the deprivation, the crowds were enthusiastic and just as impressed with the Tamburitzens as the young dancers were with their hosts.
    "The audiences were incredible," he says. "Every show was filled to capacity. The people didn't want to leave.
    "It was one of the highlights of my college education -- traveling and meeting other peoples."
    Over the past 20 years, Buleza says, there have been four area residents who have become Tamburitzans, and earned a full scholarship to Duquesne.
    It's an impressive figure, considering only eight new members are chosen for the group each year out of approximately 1,000 who audition.
    Buleza started dancing as a sophomore at Coughlin High School, at the suggestion of the church choir group director at Holy Resurrection.
    "He wanted our folk ensemble, The Glinka, to look better," Buleza says. "He sent us down to the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Theatre."
    It was there that Buleza discovered and sharpened his skills under the instruction of Barbara Weisberger.
    Buleza excelled at his dancing so much that following graduation, he was offered scholarships to the Pennsylvania Ballet Company as well as Duquesne University.
    He chose Duquesne, and relished his years there as a "Tammie," as members of the troupe are often called.
    As for upcoming local performance, which he plans on making an annual February event, he believes it will be well received -- and educational.
    He sees the Tamburitzans as "a melting pot for unity and diversity."
    I'm trying to broaden the horizons of the people of Northeast PA."
    Tickets to the show are $15 for adults and $10 for students. They are available by calling Holy Resurrection Cathedral at 822-7725 or 824-1007.
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