Feel Russia: A Festival That Allows You To Get Acquainted With Russia Without Going Abroad

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Have you ever visited Russia, or if not, how much do you know about the country?  Russia is really fascinating, and you can get acquainted with its culture without actually visiting it.

Festival Feel Russia is determined to fill in the gaps in your lack of knowledge and introduce everyone to Russian culture – to its details and peculiarities. It opened in Kazakhstan, back in April. And then it moved from there to Austria, and Germany, and last weekend it finally appeared in Spain. Feel Russia is a festival that celebrates Russia, Russian people, and their rich culture. Organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feel Russia will open in Estonia from September 17-18, in Greece and Italy (dates to be determined, check feelrussia.com for the full program and exact days of the event so as not to miss it).

Started in 2015, #FeelRussia travels around the world every year. Last year it visited Moscow, Milan, Dresden, Shanghai, Hanoi, and Lyon. In this article you will read about the most important highlights of the festival and maybe will get a chance to sample the event yourself in one of the mentioned cities.

It will be especially interesting for you if you have never visited Russia – sometimes it is worthwhile to embrace the culture as it is, in all of its enormous beauty and power. The event is brought to the heart of every city; in Madrid it occurred at the Plaza Mayor – Madrid’s main square, which dates back to the 16th century, and now is one of the most visited places in the city, with restaurants and bars located under the arches. Since its founding, the Plaza has been a place for markets and countless public events, and a place where you can find street musicians, artisans, and artists who sell their art. Currently, the Plaza Mayor is the most important place for tourists in Madrid, as thousands visit it every year. It is also the venue for numerous festivals or free concerts.

Feel Russia’s stage fit perfectly in the heart of Spain – approaching Plaza Mayor, you could hear Russian national folk music playing from far away and people of all cultures and nationalities enjoying the cheerful vibe.

The legendary „Kalinka“ folk dance troupe performed on the main stage – a unique dance group that was founded in 1970 by its chief ballet-master Alexander Fillipov, a renowned artist and choreographer from the Russian Federation who also holds a Russian Federation Government „Soul of Russia“ award for his contributions to the preservation of traditional arts.

After introducing traditional folk music together with Kalinka, there was a slight change to a different kind of folk – funky and unusual. „FolkBeat“ is a band of four girls with unique vocals, performing in the genre of traditional Slavic „part-song“ (a form of choral music) which will surprise even the most demanding audience with its contemporary electronic arrangements of Russian folk songs. You can listen to some of the band’s songs at folkbeat.ru. And finally, we were especially impressed by “Rytmi Gor” (translated as: Mountain rhythms) a group of talented children from North Ossetia that has been successfully touring European cities for two decades. Ossetian performers have been acclaimed guests at festivals in Italy, France, and Germany. And there is no surprise in that – their performance was of such a high quality and standard, that the whole crowd at Plaza Mayor was moving together with Rytmi Gor and feeling the Caucasian side of Russia. 

The main purpose of the Feel Russia show is to present in a very sensitive and careful way the rich culture of the people of Russia in all its diversity. After attending the festival, my Spanish friend was filled with emotion and said she really wanted to visit Russia now, to see cities from Sochi to Vladivostok, just like one of the characters did in the short film presented during Feel Russia.

Short films presented at the Festival by „KOROCHE“ – the main Russian short film festival – were quite impressive and demonstrated Russian culture to the audience. A demanding committee initially reviewed about 1500 short films from more than 40 Russian regions and made the final choice before a jury of Russia’s leading film producers. As well as “Koroche”, there was another short films series called „Happiness is…“. Six young screen writers and seven young directors created seven striking and touching stories about the essence of happiness with the support of the Russian Disney team and Russian movie stars. The young artists got into the „Happiness is…“ project through a series of creative competitions, the main purpose of which was to support new talent and promote the national film industry. You can watch short films at happiness.disney.ru or you still have a chance to visit Feel Russia in Estonia, Greece, or Italy.

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