Tamburitzans bring traditional folk dancing to valley

Please don't shush the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. They have the Summerlin Library's permission to make noise.

On Friday, the ensemble will perform live music and 20 traditional Eastern European folk dances in the library's theater. It's part of a nine-month annual tour that also takes them to Sun City Summerlin's Starbright Theatre and the Boulder Creek Golf Club next week.

Audiences can expect two hours of Georgian turns, Russian kicks and traditional slapping, clapping and stomping -- plus more than 500 authentic costumes.

Troupe spokeswoman Karen Prykull says that young people in the former Soviet republics are forgetting the traditional dances, so it's the Tamburitzans' mission to preserve them.

"This type of art is becoming rarer and rarer," Prykull says.

Founded in 1937, the group takes its name from the tamburitza, a ubiquitous Eastern bloc folk instrument whose sound recalls a violin that's strummed instead of bowed.

The current incarnation features 33 full-time students of the famed Pittsburgh school, two of whom are residents of Eastern Europe: a male dancer from Macedonia and a female dancer from Bulgaria.

The students get half their education paid for in exchange for their performances. They tour on weekends from August through May each year.

Prykull says that May -- always reserved for the tour's West Coast leg -- is the best month to catch it "because they've been doing nine months and all the fine-tuning has taken place."

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@review journal.com or 702-383-0456.