"KRUZHOK" CARPATHO - RUSYN ENSEMBLE

In October 1981, a new Carpatho-Rusyn ensemble "Kruzhok" was established in Greater Cleveland. Kruzhok was sponsored by Saint Mary's Byzantine Catholic School through the efforts of the pastor, Monsignor Basil Smochko, and the
principal, Sister Monica Husovich, O.S.B. The group was established with the support of Bishop Emil J. Mihalik, who had instituted a Cultural Roots Program in the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma. He had long desired the formation of a traditional performing art ensemble.

Lyrics (click here)

PURPOSE

The purpose of Kruzhok was to foster an awareness of the beautiful values of Carpatho-Rusyn religious and folk art traditions, and to provide opportunities for Byzantine Catholics of Greater Cleveland to develop each individual's talents in the performing arts. The social fabric of life itself is enriched through cultural growth. We nurture the opportunities for our people to learn, and express our living heritage in the social context of church centered living. With Byzantine Christian values, a selfless involvement in the creation of this living artistic heritage connects to the cultural roots of a treasured history, and promotes the sustaining values of life. In these values we grow in caring and commitment, and through sharing the work of rehearsal and performance, we grow in appreciation of the special celebrative temperament of these cultural roots. In reaching out to each other through the arts, we affirm the greatness of God's love awakening in all.

SYMBOLISM OF "KRUZHOK" - "CIRCLE"

In the Carpatho-Rusyn language and in other Slavic languages "kruzhok" is a society or "circle" of people who enjoy learning about a particular cultural interest. The image of a circle is rich with symbolic meanings about the continuance of good life from generation to generation. We reach together for daily grace and blessings through Christ's teachings and the Byzantine Rite of prayer. God's love for us endures forever - unbroken like a circle, and completely encompassing us with eternal love. We hope that God's love will embrace us and circulate among us. In the circle of life from the old to the young we pass on the wisdom of the sustaining values of the Byzantine Christian way of life.

Our efforts to live these values fully include knowing and enjoying our historical continuity with the expression of Carpatho-Rusyn culture from each generation. Awareness of history is the springboard for self awareness. In Kruzhok, we reach for perfection in effort that is whole and complete. In Carpatho-Rusyn dance, the timeless element of circular motion I demonstrates the qualities of balance, elegance, and grace; enjoying a kind of perfection in the exercise of its motion. Finally, the performance activity teaches us about each other and ourselves. The sharing of singing, acting, and dancing centers on celebrating the well being, the joy, and the continuity of good faith in life. In this we become a joyous circle - a "veseliy kruzhok". Thus, the name Kruzhok seemed to be the most appropriate.

DIRECTORS

Director of "Kruzhok" was Jerry J. Jumba, Director of the Cultural Roots Program for the Byzantine Catholic Diocese of Parma. A native of McKees Rocks, PA, he was co-director of the Holy Ghost "Slavjane" Carpatho-Rusyn Ensemble and director of the "PAS" ensemble of Greater Pittsburgh. In Kruzhok, he was responsible for all phases of performance such as Rusyn folk choir, choreography, instrumentals, skits, soloists, and costume design.

Associate-Director Michele A. Long brings the vitality of her vocal, acting, and dance talents to her teaching from performance experience in dance schools, and several folk art ensembles in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania including "Slavjane" and "PAS".

BASIC STATISTICS

Auditions were held during October of 1981 for ten Byzantine Catholic parishes of Greater Cleveland. The result was a 50 member ensemble with junior and senior divisions which performed both individually and together. Their debut was seven months later on June 13,1982 at St. Mary's Church Festival, and June 27 at Byzantine Catholic Heritage Day in Parma for the eparchy and the general public. In the two year period from June of 1982 until June of 1984 Kruzhok gave 16 performances of which 3 were concerts. The total membership included 83 performers. Although Kruzhok's life span was a mere 2 years and 8 months, they were rapid learners and loved what they were doing. This album was recorded on September 24 & 25, 1983 in a school room studio at St. John's Cathedral in Parma, Ohio.

In memory

I send this posthumous thank you in memory of His Grace, Emil J. Mihalik, Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma who passed away on January 27, 1984. In his pastoral values he promoted learning and enjoyment of historical knowledge with continuity of cultural roots to the present day. For initiating the educational opportunities of the Cultural Roots Program into the fabric of eparchial life - a profound thank you. I hope that the educational and artistic achievements here, and the joy of friendships found in the activity of this album play on as a tribute to Bishop Emil's pastoral vision about education and cultural values, and love of his people. Thank you Bishop Emil.
Remember him in eternity - Vichnaya yemu pamyat'.
Jerry John Jamba 8/29/1994


PROFILE OF CARPATHO-Rusyns

The Kruzhok album of 50 Carpatho-Rusyn songs and dances is a cultural journey into the folk art expression of the life and times of many generations of Rusyns who lived in the Carpathian mountains and valleys which sweep across the exact geographic center of the European continent through the countries of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania. Today's (1993) Carpatho-Rusyn population in those "homelands" is about 850,000 in the communities. Including the Rusyn Diaspora, then the estimate is about 1,237,000 from direct lineage. Having lived along those slopes for more than a thousand years, Carpatho-Rusyns have been caught between the attempted assimilation of their population into the ever-changing borders from the East and West, and yet have managed to adapt their language, their Eastern Christian Byzantine Rite religion, and their life to the shifting circumstances around them.

Economic difficulties in the Austro-Hungarian Empire caused several waves of migration of peoples out of the empire. Nearly 150,000 Carpatho-Rusyns came to North America between 1880 and 1914 to work in the new mills and mines created by the Industrial Revolution. This formed the dominant group of Rusyn American immigration whose character evolved and shaped the cultural outlook of Americans of Carpatho-Rusyn descent. Settling mainly in the industrialized Northeast United States, they raised families and began to adapt to the process of cultural assimilation and economic advancement. From the decade of the 1920s to the present, smaller numbers of Carpatho-Rusyns immigrated to the United States. Their appearance continued to stimulate American Rusyn
awareness of their cultural roots. Communications between American and European Rusyns remained strong until WW II, after that, contact with European Rusyns was very limited under most of the Communist ruled years from 1947 until 1989.
Today, almost 700,000 Americans of Carpatho-Rusyn descent maintain some aspects of their distinctive culture in divine worship, song, dance, art, wood craft, social traditions, customs, and food. In doing so, the specificity of their cultural inheritance enriches the American socio-cultural fabric.

This Kruzhok Album

This Kruzhok album contains a survey of songs and dances from Carpatho-Rusyns living in present day Transcarpathian Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Serbia, and is equally influenced by generations of immigrants to the United States and their descendants. The Kruzhok membership, consisting of later generations, includes people of variety of ethno-cultural backgrounds through the acculturation and inter-marriage that is naturally a part of the poly-cultural American experience. Sponsored by the Cultural Roots Program, and in the context of church centered living, Kruzhok did not exist as an ethnic club or enclave. Kruzhok's multi-ethnic membership enjoyed culture for the benefits of learning and expressing a beautiful but less known Carpatho-Rusyn culture to a larger world. We hope that the listener can share in the joy and expressiveness of these Carpatho-Rusyn folk arts as presented by the mostly multi-ethnic 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation American Carpatho-Rusyns. I send a personal thank you to the many individuals whose cultural sensibility and assistance helped the Kruzhok ensemble to function and thrive. Thank you. J.J.


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Last Revised: August 4th, 1999

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