Students at the 2013 Russian Culture Camp perform a traditional Russian dance. (Photo courtesy Baranov Museum)

Next week, Kodiak students will learn Russian songs and dances at a cultural camp sponsored by the Baranov Museum, the Kodiak Russian Balalaika players and the Kodiak Arts Council.

Students will try traditional foods, dress, music and dance at the Kodiak High School and the museum.

“The first day, we’ll meet at the museum to get that flavor of the Russian culture from being in the museum where all the old artifacts are,” said one of the camp’s instructors, Casey Janz.

“It gives them quite a bit of background on the diversity that supports our community,” said Baranov Museum Curator of Education Sarah Harrington

The camp runs for four hours each day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The mornings will be sent singing and learning the balalaika, while the afternoons will be spent dancing. Three other members of the Balalaika players will be teaching as well.

The campers will also learn through folk tales and coloring pictures and costumes.

“We want them to have an overall appreciation and connection to Russian and European cultures, and the folk arts and stories and how the stories and the dance and the songs are all connected,” Janz said.

Through the costumes, the children will learn about traditional Russian dress. The costumes are a mix. Some of them were purchased by the Baranov Museum. Others are leftovers from a Russian dance group that disbanded.

Those garments have been modified to fit children, Janz added.

The campers will wear the costumes at their final performance on Friday, July 18, at 5 p.m. The students will perform the songs they learned inside the museum, and dance outside on the lawn.

“It’s never rained hard enough where we couldn’t,” Janz said. “We do have a backup plan because we really don’t want to miss the dances they’ve learned.”

Afterward, the campers will share Russian tea and treats with attendees.

For Janz, teaching the class is fun. She taught elementary Physical Education for 30 years, incorporating folk dances into her classes.

“Sometimes, there are kids who have challenges sitting still, and it’s just finding what hooks them so they can continue to be engaged,” said Janz. “We always hope that it’ll get some kids hooked and make them want to keep coming and playing. We have had students who’ve come back and played with the (Balalaika) group.”

There are still a few slots open in the class. The maximum number is 12 and right now, seven are enrolled. Parents can enroll their students by calling the Kodiak Arts Council at 486-5291 or online at

Contact Julie Herrmann at

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