Sunnyvale, California, CA, Russian trio, musicians, singers, balalaika, garmoshka, costumed characters, multicultural school assembly
Russian school assembly trio performed two shows on Wednesday, April 03, 2013, at the Ellis Elementary School, 550 East Olive Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. Students and teachers spent 45 minutes learning about Russian culture through songs, music, dance and language. Musical director of the group Elina Karokhina played the balalaika, a three-stringed, triangular instrument, Artistic director/founder Mikhail Smirnov played the garmoshka, a Russian-style diatonic button accordion and guitar. In between playing songs on their instruments, singing songs, and dancing traditional numbers to the music, Mikhail Smirnov shared a little bit of the Russian language with the students. He taught them phrases such as "Thank You" (SPASIBO), "Hello" (ZDRAVSTVUITE), "You're Welcome" (PAZHALUYSTA) and "Bye" (PAKA) as well as the alphabet and counting. He said each word in English and then slowly in Russian, allowing the children a moment to try the words themselves after each one. After the segment on words, the students attempted to chatter in Russian for a couple minutes, smiling and laughing about how they sounded. Almost in the end of the performance, Mikhail paused to share a couple of Russian tongue twisters, explaining each one in English first, and then saying them in Russian at top speed. With each one, the twisters got more complicated and lengthy. There was even a chance for a handful of students to get up on stage and try out a couple of Russian percussion instruments.