Sheldon students experience a taste of Russian culture

Friday, January 12, 2007
A student gets a hands on lesson in playing spoons Thursday from Sergei Shapoval who was presenting a program on Russia for students from Sheldon and Bronaugh.

By Steve Moyer

Nevada Daily Mail

Once again the Cultural Kaleidoscope came to Sheldon schools, and again Sergei Shapoval presented the program. Last time it was on the Ukraine, where Shapoval is from, this year it was on Russia.

Holding traditional Russian instruments Sergei Shapoval stands in front of a copy of the Cyrillic alphabet in the Sheldon school gym. Shapoval was in Sheldon Thursday to present a program for students from Sheldon and Bronaugh on Russia and its culture.

Shapoval was born in the city of Krivoi Rog, Ukraine. He is a touring artist for the Missouri Arts Council, the North Dakota Council on the Arts and Arkansas Arts Council as well as his work with the Cultural Kaleidoscope.

Shapoval came to the United States before the fall of the Soviet Union and was hired by Avila College. With three master's degrees Shapoval joined with Margie Tritt to form Cultural Kaleidoscope to offer programs on four different countries.

For this presentation Shapoval was dressed in a traditional Russian folk costume and began by showing students where Russia was on a map. He noted its relationship with the United States and the former Soviet Union.

During his program Thursday Sergei Shapoval demonstrated handmade wooden toys which had articulated arms that moved when a weight suspended from strings was moved.

He also played several traditional Russian instruments, The Garmoshka, a wooden trumpet, flutes and the balalaika. During one part of the program Shapoval brought a student to the front and gave him spoons and showed him how to play them.

Shapoval had a pair of Russian boots, made with bear skin on the outside and sheepskin on the inside and tightly-packed wool felt on the soles.

"You could stand outside and go in the woods to hunt in the middle of winter and your feet wouldn't get cold," Shapoval said.

Shapoval also showed the students several different types of art, popular in Russia. The object that seemed to catch their attention the most were the matryoshka dolls, also called Russian nesting dolls. The art began in the 1890s and became a very popular art form.

In old Russian, among peasants, the name Matryona or Matriosha was a very popular female name. The Latin root of the name, mater, means mother. This name was associated with the image of a mother of a big peasant family who was very healthy and had a portly figure.

The programs are made available with the assistance of the Missouri Arts Council, which funds 60 percent of the cost of the program.

According to a press release from Phyllis Sprenkle, Sheldon superintendent, "The school district feels that these programs are very worthwhile as they broaden our students awareness of other cultures, their history, music and art. Sheldon R-8 School would like to thank the Missouri Arts Council for providing financial assistance in bringing this worthwhile program to both our students and those from Bronaugh."

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