Appearing on the Main Stage

during Tchaikovsky Birthday Bash, May 8, 2011

and for Kids to Concerts the following week

Ensemble Barynya — Russian music, dance and song

Mikhail Victorovich Smirnov is Artistic Director and Founder of Ensemble Barynya, based in New York City, and owner of Barynya Entertainment, the largest Russian talent booking agency outside of Russia.

Born in Moscow in 1966, Mikhail has been performing Russian folk dance and music for more than 25 years. As a child, he was a member of the famous “Moscow Boys Chorus,” one of the most prestigious all-male choirs in Russia. Before coming to the United States in 1991, Mikhail was a soloist in several Russian folk dance and music groups including the Moscow State Center for Russian song, “Russkaya Pesnya”, under the direction of Nadezhda Babkina.

An author of many articles, in English and Russian, about traditional Russian dance, music and instruments, Mikhail received his Master’s degree from the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts. While studying in Moscow, Mikhail followed his passion for Russian folk culture by traveling to many different regions of Russia such as Tver, Smolensk, Belgorod, and Don River to collect Russian folklore at its source. He was surprised to learn that folk dances, songs, melodies, lyrics, and tunes change from village to village, even those as close as a couple of miles apart. In these folklore expeditions, he recorded more than 100 hours of Russian folk music, dances, and performances on folk instruments. Since then, Mikhail has incorporated much of this original research into the repertoire of ensemble Barynya, the biggest (and many believe the best) Russian dance and music ensemble outside of Mother Russia.

Mikhail is adept on a variety of Russian folk instruments including contrabass balalaika, balalaika, and gusli. However, his favorite instrument remains the garmoshka, the small Russian folk button accordion used in Russian folk music and dancing.

Mikhail and the dancers of ensemble Barynya were featured on NBC’s international dance competition video broadcast, “SUPERSTARS OF DANCE.,” aired between January 4th and January 26th, 2009. Mikhail Smirnov was one of eight judges to decide which country will win, but needed to recuse himself from judging Team Russia.

Barynya Dancers

Alexey Leonidovich Maltsev was born in the town of Barnaul, the administrative center of Altai Krai, Russia. Alexey has been dancing since he was a small child. He performed with Barnaul’s Kids Folk Ballet company “Barnaul Dance Theatre of Rozy Fiber.” For two years he was a member of the “Russian Army Dance Ensemble of Eastern Siberia Region”. He worked for four years in Egypt as a member of the “International Stars” dance troupe. Between 2005-2007, Alexey worked as a dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines shows.

Alexey started to perform with ensemble Barynya in December 2007. His first concert appearance took place during the Puerto Rico International Festival of Cultures.

Alexander Rudoy was born in Ukraine, former USSR. He began his dance training at the age of six with folk dance company ENS from Lviv, Ukraine and performed in various parts of the country and throughout Europe. In 1991, he came to New York City and continued his studies of ballet, jazz and modern dance. Mr. Rudoy is a choreographer of the Rasputin Dance Company. Other credits include “Joy in Every Land” with the AllNations Dance Company (China and Argentina tours); “Winter’s Tale” with “Moscow Circus” (choreographer); “Moldavanka” with Russian-American Musical Theatre, and Battery Park Lechaim Festival Company.

Anna Zinenko is a traditional Ukrainian dancer from New York City. She joined the ensemble Barynya in 2009. Anna is a native of Kiev, Ukraine. She is a profesionally trained dancer who performed with the famous children’s folk dance ensemble Veterok, based in Kiev, Ukraine and with the folk dance ensemble “GORLITSA”. Anna’s first performance with ensemble Barynya took place in New Jersey.

Sophia Panych trained in Ukrainian Folk Dance with Roma Pryma Bohachevsky and in ballet, jazz and modern dance at Albany Dance Institute, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and American Ballet Theater. She graduated from New York University with a BA in Art History. Sophia currently performs consistently with Barynya, and with Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble (highlights were performing at Lincoln Center, NYU’s Skirball Theater and Town Hall). Prior to moving to New York City, Sophia performed with Obrij Folk Dance Ensemble and Mamai Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in Rochester, NY; Capital Ballet Company and Albany Berkshire Ballet both in Albany, NY. Sophia is also currently an instructor at Roma Pryma Bohachevsky School of Ukrainian Dance where she has taught for five years.

Ensemble Barynya performance program notes

“BARYNYA” — An original Russian folk dance with short “Chastushki” (four-line folk verses). It was the first number in the program that was presented by the ensemble back in 1991. The “Barynya” dance is an alternation of limericks and frenetic dancing. The content is always humorous. The dancing consists mainly of fancy stomping and traditional Russian squat work. In old times in Russia, the word “Barynya” (“Landlady”) was used by simple folks as a form of address to a woman of higher class.

“KOROBUSHKA” (“The Peddlers”) — favorite Russian folk song. Lyrics are by the great Russian poet Nekrasov. A countryside peddler has a basket filled with attractive prints and brocades. At first-sight he falls in love with a pleasant girl. He is ready to lay at her feet all his worldly goods for a glance from her dark eyes and a kiss from her ruby-red-lips.

“NANAITSY” (“Fight of two kids”) — The idea of this dance belongs to Igor Alexandrovich, a famous Russian choreographer (1906-2007). This sumo-style wrestling match is the favorite sport of the Nanai people who inhabit the frigid Northern region of Russia.

“METELITSA” (“The Snowstorm”) — a traditional Russian song and dance.

“RUSSKIE SKOROGOVORKI” (“Russian Tongue Twisters”) — This verbal game is performed by Mikhail Smirnov with Kalinka.

“DVE GITARY” (“Two Guitars”) — A famous Russian Gypsy traditional song and dance. Choreography by Andrij Cybyk.

“PIDMANULA” (“You Tricked Me”) — playful authentic Ukrainian folk song. This fellow’s girlfriend never keeps her promises.

“GOPAK” (“Hopak”) — The national dance of The Ukraine is also referred to as “Gopak ,” Cossack dance.

“NARODNYE PESNI”(Authentic Songs of Remote Russian Villages) — This is performed by Mikhail Smirnov with Kalinka.

“EVREISKAYA SVAD’BA” (“Jewish wedding”) — This is a series of Jewish wedding dances from the Odessa region of Ukraine.

“PODMOSKOVNYE VECHERA” and “KATYUSHA” (“Moscow Nights” and “Katyusha”) — Two popular Russian songs from the second World War period.

“KALINKA” (“Guelder-Rose Tree”) — The most famous Russian folk song and dance.