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Swirl of color, music

Famed Tamburitzans delight with ethnic performance

Members of the Duquesne University Tamburitzans perform a Serbian dance Sunday at the Hazleton Area High School.

Aimee Dilger/the times leader

HAZLE TWP. – It was an Eastern European delight.

“Wonderful” and “amazing” were the words audience members used over and over to describe how the Duquesne University Tamburitzans dazzled a packed auditorium at Hazleton Area High School on Sunday with their song and dance embellished by a kaleidoscope of color in twirling dresses, shimmering vests and hundreds of other costumes and accessories.

“That wore me out just watching. … I don’t even know what adjective to use. They are just really, really good. Everything’s so fast and quick,” said Anna Zynell, of White Haven.

The troupe of 40 students, who attend Duquesne on partial scholarships, presents a new production each year, performing 80 concerts across the country on weekends and during breaks.

The music, dance and costumes showcase the cultures of regions in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, including Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and many others.

Many in the audience were hoping to see their ancestors’ cultures featured in the show.

Steve and Mary Ann Michissin, of Freeland, were happy the ensemble performed the Slovakian “Dances from Zemplin” to end the first half of the show. Their parents are from Czechoslovakia and Austria-Hungary.

“I’m amazed how college students could put on such a performance, not being from the Balkan countries,” Steve Michissin said.

Helen Varenda, of West Hazleton, said during intermission she was looking forward to “Szla Dzieweczka,” a Polish number performed by a vocal ensemble in the second half.

“The music, the voices, the dancing, the costumes, it’s all so fabulous. We would love to come back,” Varenda said.

She and other local audience members were ecstatic that the Tamburitzans’ venue was in southern Luzerne County this year – the first time ever. And they’ll perform there again next year on Jan. 31.

The high school has a larger stage than some better-known venues such as the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre or the Scranton Cultural Center, and it’s a better value, said Wilkes-Barre native and former Tamburitzan Andrew Buleza.

Buleza has arranged for the group to perform in Northeastern Pennsylvania each of the past 16 years as part of the Midwinter Folk Festival, which begins at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre on the Saturday preceding the Sunday Tamburitzan performance.

The Rev. Joseph Martin, pastor at Holy Resurrection, called Buleza the “sparkplug behind the whole event.”

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