The Zivili Group Teaches Croatian Dancing
The following appeared in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette from Ohio. The Zivili group is lead by Melissa Pintar Obenauf and Pamela Lacko who are also involved with "Heart of Croatia" which sells Croatian products at http://croatiagifts.safeshopper.com
Dance troupe treats kids to a show
By HOLLIE SAUNDERS
The Eagle-Gazette Staff
E-G photos by William Cannon
Melissa Obenhauf (center) of Granville demonstrates the steps of a traditional Croatian and Serbian dance to third-graders Cheyanne Hines (left), Dakota Linkous and Anthony Moore inside the gym at South Elementary School in Lancaster.
LANCASTER -- Students at South Elementary School danced and sang songs popular with residents of southern Slavic nations Tuesday.
The education was from Zivili (Zhee-vee-lee, which means "to life"), a dance company that is this year's artist-in-residence.
Melissa Pintar Obenauf led the singing and dancing while Pamela Lacko Kelley played the bisernica, a small stringed instrument native to the countries which once were Yugoslavia.
Both performers are directors of the professional ethnic dance company based in Columbus.
Taylor Cain, 8, part of the third-grade group, said she had a lot fun.
"We get to be with them every day, and this was the first time. It's a lot of fun," Cain said. "The song we learned means fun and to life."
Quincy Hughes, 9, said the dancing was really cool.
"The dancing and singing was really easy to learn, and it was fun," Hughes said. "(Obenauf and Kelley) are really nice people."
Chris Crockett, 8, said he was looking forward to the two weeks that Zivili will be at South School.
"It's cool to learn stuff that people who are different do, and to learn how they speak," Crockett said. "We learned they dance in a circle so that everybody can dance."
Obenauf and Kelley will be at South through April 29. They will teach the students the culture of Croatia and Bosnia as well as their music, dance and costumes.
According to South School Principal Peggy Merton, the visit is made possible through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Funds also were donated by the Junior Women's Club, the Moose Lodge and the school's Parent Teacher Organization.
Andrew Brown, music teacher at South School, along with educators Dawn Gerds and Debbie Rockwood, requested Zivili return to the school for the artist-in-residence program.
The group previously visited the school for two weeks in 1999.
Brown said he was very excited that Zivili is at South School, and said the students and staff members will benefit from their educational program.
"This past summer, I did my master's degree program in Hungary. I teach music classes here by using the Kodaly (a Hungarian composer) philosophy of music education," Brown said. "I wanted to learn songs and dances from Eastern Europe so I can incorporate them into my music classes. I recommended Zivili to come here so we can learn more about that area."
Obenauf and Kelley will meet every day with the third and sixth-grade classes who make up the two core groups. The other grade levels will meet with the guest educators four times during their visit.
The teachers attended a workshop after school Tuesday in which they will learn dances and activities that they can apply to classroom lessons after the Zivili artists have completed their residency.
On April 29, the students will present a program for their families and invited audience to showcase what they have learned.
Obenauf said she and her fellow performers enjoy working the school-aged children.
"Pam and I both have degrees in education. Both of our grandparents are Croatian. So for us, it's wonderful to be able to share what we are passionate about in an educational setting," Obenauf said. "We get to perform and still be in education, so it's the best of both worlds."
Obenauf said they also share their culture at different colleges. Zivili has also toured the United States and Europe, and have performed with orchestras in various venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Zivili also performed several years ago at The Lancaster Festival.