Bridges of Independence – Nepriklausomybės tiltai


Lithuanian Youth of the Diaspora Joined Talents in A Musical Commemorating Lithuania’s Independence, Sang and Learned about Its History

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Lithuania’s restoration of Independence, youth from the Lithuanian diaspora staged a group show called “Bridges of Independence” on July 25, at the church in Rumšiškės, the Lithuanian Folk-Village Museum.

Gediminas Zujus
Alvija Černiauskaitė

Stage and Scene School campers from seven countries put together a nine-day program, with 19 dance groups from around the world, and six Lithuanian singers, portraying 30 years of history with songs that were popular during  the restoration period and later. Gediminas Zujus, head of The Stage and Scene School and program producer, said that this show is particularly important for the younger generation of youth in the diaspora as a learning tool. “We are building bridges between the events of that period, and between generations, countries and communities by means of the patriotic songs of those times, visuals, stories and other forms of expression. Children and youth are shown history and events in an attractive format, using artistic expression and creative forms. We hope that Lithuanian communities in the diaspora will invite us to visit them, so we may have the opportunity to put the show on more than once.

Project manager, World Lithuanian Community (PLB) Education Committee Chair Alvija Černiauskaitė said that over the three years of planning, annual camps were held to acquaint youth with various aspects of Lithuanian culture. They spent nine days in the authentic environment of the Rumšiškės Folk-Village Museum, and shared a modern take on the folk songs and dances they learned. When they go home, the children are highly motivated by audience’s  enthusiastic reaction to the show, new friends with whom they bonded over Lithuanian music and culture, and a deeper sense of their own identity.

Zujus has been creating musical productions with youth from the diaspora since 2007. The idea came to him after he met Lithuanians in several other countries.
“In 1989 I lived in Canada and the USA, met many Lithuanians and participated in many community activities. I noticed that Lithuanians were very enthusiastic about passing on their parents’ and grandparents’ heritage to their children, and celebrated their songs, stories, games, national and seasonal festivals. It was most interesting to see how differently the same songs or dances were performed, for example, in Toronto and in Los Angeles. I found still more variations in Argentina and Brazil, where Lithuanian culture seemed to be frozen in the early 20th century, and clearly reflects the ethnographic regions of Lithuania where the immigrants originated. This is what prompted me to bring together youth from a variety countries, so they might learn, share and exchange the songs, dances and stories of today’s Lithuania. The staging of a musical was the most appropriate format for this, allowing us to include a variety of cultural expression.”

                                                        Photo by Ajivlis