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November 30, 2007

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community members wearing wreathes with flowers
A Rusalka Procession

The Rusalka Cycle

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The Rusalka Cycle

Mariana Sadovska is a song-catcher. As a teenager in Ukraine, she recorded the songs and stories of her grandmother. Mariana would then go from village to village to record the songs of other women as a way of discovering her heritage and keeping it alive.

Mariana was intrigued with the Slavic folktales of "Rusalka" - restless spirits thought to be women who died untimely deaths. Mariana heard that some of the last women doing the Rusalka rituals were Chernobyl survivors - women who had fled their home villages because of the radiation.

For as long as people can remember, week-long rituals are held to appease these spirits. So Mariana accompanied the U.S.-based singing group Kitka to Ukraine to meet the women, hear their stories, and sing with them. 

Shira Cion leads the Kitka singing ensemble and tells what it was like to experience the ancient Ukranian tradition. One magical evening, Shira recalls, the women donned greenery, proceeded to the cemetery and sang rich lamentations.

Kitka and  Mariana have just released a CD of original compositions based on the legend of the Rusalka, and the trip. It's called "The Rusalka Cycle."

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