Dance art of the Itelmen

The dance genres of the Itelmen reflect the diversity of their kinematic culture: from mimic grimaces to active dance movements, defined by the kovranians as k'olkas, the tigilians as kolkheskhenezen, and kamchadals as kuzelkinga (or kamkach), which literally means “to break”, “to bend”. The Itelmen had circular dances, as well as dances depicting animals accompanied by onomatopoeia.

The general ritual dance with the shouts of "Alhalalalai" completed the festive ceremony on the end of the hunt. Impromptu dances accompanied the ritual of dragging the felled birch through the upper door of the yurt. Plastic pantomime with "whale" and "wolf" was played here. At the festival to celebrate the hunt for a bear while the animal was being skinned, the youth began to dance, the old men joined in when the dance was in full swing. The dancers imitated the gait of a bear, the games of bear cubs, and imagined a love scene between a bear and a bear. The dance was accompanied by sharp shouts.

By the time of the intensive exploration of Kamchatka by the Russians (40s of the 18th century), the ritual function of the Itelmen dance had been lost. Russian culture had a tremendous impact on the life and traditional culture of the Itelmens, particularly on the wedding ceremony and related dances. Songs, dances, round dances were perceived from the Russians: their melodies, fervent dance rhythms were close to the Yelmen. They also borrowed gatherings, parties, games.

Researchers and travelers noted the dancing skill of the Itelmens "Great honor to the one who dances." The dancers tried to diversify their movements, some knelt and danced reclining (a trace of ancient ritual dances). The most widespread songs and dances of the Itelmen that have survived to this day are “Yellow Sand”, “Bakia” (bear), ditties “Katya was not at home”, “Once on the bridge”. Video: 2014 Kamchatka "Elvel" Itelmen dance - Far East Songs & Dances

As part of amateur performances in 1964, the stage dances of the Itelmens were first shown, among them the musical and choreographic composition "Elvel" (libretto by T. Gutorova, lyrics by G.G. Porotov, staged by N. Suzdalova), based on one of the plots of the myth about the Raven. In 1974 the song and dance ensemble "Elvel" was created; dance director and director - B. Zhirkov, an Itelmen by nationality. He created choreographic miniatures "Dance of the Hunters", "Dance of Fishermen", "Dance of Masks", for the female group - the dances "By the River" and "Waves". The repertoire of the ensemble, known not only in Russia, but also abroad, includes songs and dances to the melodies and words of the poet and musician G.G. Porotov: "Fishing Ritual", "Kovran rhythms", "Ducks", "Monkey", "Okkenelu", "Norgali", choreographic miniature "How Kutkh (Raven) rode pink salmon", etc.

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