Sveiks! Welcome to Namejs.com!
Welcome to Namejs' website! Here you can check out all the newest updates in the world of Namejs, the premiere Latvian Folk Dance Troupe of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area! Check out our calendar page for info about rehearsals or upcoming shows, or just check the right side of this page for a list of upcoming shows. If you'd like info about Namejs, and especially if you have any interest in joining us, get in touch via our "contact us" section! Or if you feel like perusing videos and pics of past Namejs events or even rehearsals, you can do that here, too. If there's something else you'd like to see in these pages, please let us know. One, two, three, HOP!
It's the moment every Namejs fan has been waiting for... our official report from Dziesmu Svetki! This year we traveled to Hamilton, Canada, to join forces with dancers from the USA, Canada, Latvia, Ireland, and Germany. If you're curious about the overall festival, check out these shameless plugs- er, check out these LatviansOnline articles, which coincidentally happened to be written by NamejsAdmin and feature quotes from a couple Namejs dancers:
Latvian Song and Dance Festival Draws Enthusiastic Crowds to Hamilton
North American Song and Dance Festival Feels Influence of Troupes from Latvia
In addition to getting those articles finished up, we have spent the past week and a half meticulously searching the world wide web for photos and videos of Namejs at Dziesmu Svetki. They can, not surprisingly, be found here in our photo and video sections. If you have a lead on any more photos or videos and are happy to share, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
But enough of all that. Time for the Wrap-Up! For eight of our dancers, the work started bright and early Friday morning with Jaundejas Meginajums(New Choreography Contest Rehearsal). We lucked out with our rehearsal time slot, which directly followed the combined curtain call rehearsal. Having our two mini-rehearsals back to back meant that we were in and out for our official rehearsal time in less than half an hour. This gave us plenty of time to find a quiet corner for more last-second run throughs, to get back to the hotel for meals, digestion, showers, naps, costuming, etc before having to be back at the theatre for showtime. We also had enough time to sit up in the balcony for the first third or so of the show, since we weren't on until roughly halfway through. Here we are anxiously waiting for the show to start:
If we remember correctly, then we were the only submission that contained no overlap in terms of choreographer or troupe (meaning our troupe only had one entry by one choreographer and that choreographer had no other entries). Being only a little piece in a big puzzle may have been a little daunting, but it means our dancers were super focused on making sure we got our piece just right. We think we nailed it! Unfortunately, our submission, Nakts un Diena, choreographed by Namejs dancer Elga Ozols and featuring amazing original music by Rich Skulte and Lars Alversons, failed to place in any categories. Regardless, we are proud of our little dance, and the dancers did a FANTASTIC job pulling it off. Here's a collage of awesome photos!
Preparations for the main event began at 7am the next morning, when all of Namejs, along with roughly five hundred of our closest friends, gathered in the underbelly of FirstOntario Center (formerly Copps Colliseum) to begin rehearsing for the Folk Dance Spectacular! We were easily identifiably by our awesome T-shirts, seen here being modeled by the ladies and the gentlemen of Namejs, respectively:
This year rehearsal spanned two days (both with early morning start times). Saturday was only for dancers, and involved running through the basics of the show (mostly) in order to make sure everyone knew where they had to be on the floor and how to get there. One the second day we brought in the children's groups, along with the live music. Live music?! Yes! This year's show featured the musical talent of recognizable Latvian group Folkvakars, which of course sounds familiar to you because they did the music for Tuoli Dzievoj, Namejs' 2012 submission in the Milwaukee new choreography contest. In addition to the live instruments, there was full chorus of singers on hand, lending their incredible talents, and rounding out the shows spectacularly.
We're not sure whether it is due to overall organization, or to Namejs being super well-prepared, or to us just being used to Dziesmu Svetki after all of these years, but the rehearsal process seemed to go much smoother than in the past, with relatively little stress or worry. Things were just quiet. Maybe a little too quiet? Here we are in rehearsals, looking noticably chill (despite the fact that Namejs admin had too much fun with photoshop and made the world around us black and white):
We had enough time at the end of Sunday's rehearsal to do an entire start-to-finish run-through, and were all so awesome that we even got out of there an hour early! This gave Namejs members roughly two hours to get back to the hotel, relax, costume up, braid hair, and return to the arena for headcount and official group photos. Unfortunately, we had a couple little issues with our group photo shoot. In the first attempt, a poorly-placed hand made it look like there was an antler growing out of one dancer's head. In the next attempt the passerby who took the photo for us never actually pressed the shutter button on the camera. On the third attempt one dancer had wandered off to the bathroom (resulting in our official troupe photo being one dancer short), and by the time that person returned another three had also disappeared to the bathroom, and then it was showtime! We wound up doing impromptu unofficial group photos after both the rehearsal and the main show, but since people had already left, we were still three dancers short, and the group photo from the entire festival featuring every single dancer is the one where were are in sweaty T-shirts and holding Mikus upside down in the air. Oh well. Here's a collection of our attempts:
Enough about our modeling careers! We are, after all, a Latvian folk dance troupe, so let's talk about Latvian folk dancing! The show went great! Namejs performed in 8 separate dances: Mārtiņdancis, Pērkoņdancis, Piebildzēni, and Sasala Jūriņa in the first half, and Ar Meitšmi Dancot Gāju, Sasukoju Bāru Zyrgu, Toronaks, and Uz Dalderi Dancot Griezu in the 2nd half. In addition, we loaned three dancers to our friends in Seattle Trejdeksnītis for Mārtiņdancis, Abaviņa, Sudmali'mas, and Saulespuķu Deja. In true Namejs fashion, we decided to sign up for some of the most challenging and high-energy dances. The unforeseen consequence of this decision is that few other troupes selected these same dances, and we were generally one of only three to five troupes on the floor at any given time. For example, here we are dancing the world's most exhausting dance, Sasukoju Bāry Zyrgu, with just us, Toronto Daugaviņa, and Rga's Perle:
Sure, this scarcity made us feel the pressure, but on the plus side, it made us easy to photograph! Look at us go!
Speaking of feeling the pressure, we'd like to give an especially sincere shout-out to Namejs dancers Kaytlin Lapsa, Laura Kohler, and Kristine Surite, all of which were performing in their very first Dziesmu Svetki with Namejs! Kaytlin and Laura have both been with Namejs for a while now, performing in various shows in the states, but have not had the chance to do a Dziesmu Svetki before. Kristine, on the other hand, has plenty of experience dancing with our shorter buddies over in DC's children's dance troupe Mazais Namejs, but this year we sucked the 11 year old superstar up into our midst. Here she is with our Dear Leader Alberts Ozols:
We threw all three of these ladies into the deep end, assigning them some serious tough dances like Sasala Jurina, Sasukoju Baru Zyrgu, and Uz Dalderi Dancot Griezu. Way to go, dāmas! At the other end of the spectrum, we're sorry to say that we have to part ways with beloved Namejs dancer Andzs Ubelis, who joined up last year but unfortunately is moving to Europe for work. We wish him luck in his next adventures (though are secretly hoping he'll return to Namejs someday.) In honor of our incoming and outgoing dancers, when it came time for the official troupe intros, we had Andzs leading the way by carrying the troupe flag, and Kristine and Laura serving as honor guard. Here we are entering the arena:
Like we already mentioned above, we are always searching for more videos, so if you have a lead on any, please let us know. In the meantime, here's a very zoomed-in video of Perkondancis, featuring tons of Namejs screentime as we do some serious hopping:
The show ended with a grand finale involving every dancer in the entire show coming out onto the floor at once and forming giant circles. Namejs was one of four or five groups that, instead of dancing in the circles, did its own thing, performing the high-kneed, high-lift, high-energy showstopper Uz Dalderi Dancot Griezu. Being surrounded by giant dancer circles meant that we had significantly less room to dance in than we were used to. On the one hand this was nice because we didn't have to run as far. On the other hand, it means that more than one person was literally kicked in the head during rehearsals, and some of us were a little nervous going in to the show. As per usual, there was no real reason to worry, and the finale went off without a hitch. Here's a picture! We are wedged in on the left there.
So that's it: another Namejs Dziesmu Svetki for the record books. All in all every seemed to have a great time. We would like to say a huge thanks to the festival organizers, who really did a brilliant job making sure that everything ran smoothly, and that we were as well rested, hydrated, and fed as possible. And thanks to all our friends and family for coming out to watch! We hope you enjoyed the show, and we'll seeya next time! Now excuse us while we rest our polka feet and collapse into summer break.
Greetings from Dziesmu Svetki in Hamilton, Canada! We had our first official event today, with Namejs performing in the Jaundeju (New Choreography) Contest! There will be a full report on everything later, but right now it's 1am and we have rehearsal bright and early in the morning, so for now just know that things went great! Congrats to all the Namejs dancers for doing a fantastic job!
We're really just leaving this quick note to announce that we already have our very first Dziesmu Svetki video available! Huge thanks to Roberts Suritis for capturing our performance from today! Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you our submission, Nakts un Diena by Namejs dancer Elga Ozols:
Check out this video! And then, go here to our video section to check out some more! Once you're done, you may find yourself asking many questions.
First up, you will exclaim "Holy moly those are some awesome t-shirts! Who is responsible for bringing such beauty into this world?" We wholeheartedly agree with you- those are some amazing T-shirts. We've been meaning to post about their awesomeness for some time now, but didn't have any photos or videos with which to show them off until now. HUGE THANKS TO T-SHIRT MASTERMIND IMANTS MOHSENI for stepping up to the plate and handling both the design and the ordering. If you'd like to see one up close and in person, just find any Namejs member and follow them around for a few days, because these have already become a regular staple in everyone's wardrobes.
Once you have regained your shirt-shattered compusure (seriously, people, hold it together), you will think "Huh, I wonder where and why they are dancing? It looks like their regular rehearsal space, except there a bunch of tables and a handful of people wandering around and everyone is wearing matching outfits that are not made of wool." How very astute of you. Those of you who have been paying close attention to the world of Namejs will be aware that this past weekend marked two very special events for Namejs: Montgomery County Heritage Days and our big bad final rehearsal before this upcoming weekend's Dziesmu Svetki in Hamilton, Canada. For the first time in Namejs history we combined these two events, and instead of dancing a couple small dances throughout the day for curious onlookers, we opened up our rehearsal to the general public. If anyone ever wondered how the inner workings of a Latvian folk dance troupe ticked (and who hasn't?), then here was their answer. The result means that the show lasted for a whopping five hours, during which visiting local non-Latvians and Latvians alike could wander in and out as they pleased. Folks visiting towards the end of the day were lucky enough to catch our ENTIRE Dziesmu Svetku routine from start to finish without even having to buy a flight to Canada or bring their passport. From what we could tell our visiting audience members seemed to enjoy themselves, and we Namejs dancers definitely appreciated the opportunity to practice our dances in front of spectators.
Are are hoping to get some pictures up soon and promise to link them here, but admit that Namejs Admin is very busy packing and prepping at the moment and may not have time until a later date. Packing for what, you may ask? Packing for Namejs' biggest baddest journey of the year: Dziesmu Svetki in Hamilton, Canada! Some of our dancers are already on the way, and most of us will be hitting the road tomorrow. This weekend we will be crossing the great northern border and joining our dancing pals from the US, Canada, Latvia, Ireland, we think Germany, and who knows where else, for an International Latvian Folk Dance Extravaganza! This is what we've been prepping for all year long, so hold your thumbs, cross your fingers, and wish us luck!
Seeya in Canada!
Did you all have a happy Jani? We sure did! As is now our annual custom, Namejs hit the road this past weekend and headed to Freehold, New Jersey to celebrate the Latvian Summer Solstice in serious style with all the good folks at Priedaine Latvian Center! Someone was smiling down on us this year, because we could not have asked for more perfect weather (always a fear for outdoor June performances). This year we learned two dances (an intro and a finale) on the spot. Thank you to Astrida Lizina for her choreography and for her patience as a teacher! We also performed Piebildzeni, Martindancis, and Toronaks in our sections of the program, and shared the stage for Sasala Jurina. After a long afternoon of rehearsing in the sun, we pitched our tents, suited-up in our tautas terpi, and hit the stage with our good friends from Philly Dzirkstele. We always enjoy working with these guys, but this year is especially significant because we'll be working closely with them in less than two weeks when we will be dancing Sasala Jurina together at Dziesmu Svetki in Hamilton, Canada. Audiences in Jersey were lucky enough to catch a sneak-peek of the collaboration this weekend. Not too shabby, in our humble biased opinion. Take a look for yourself:
Cool video, huh? Want to see more? Of course you do! Well lucky for you, we have a few more available here in our video section. We also have a healthy collection of photos available here in our photo section. Thank you to every one of Namejs' diligent camera-wielding friends and fans! Paldies, guys! If anyone else has any photos or videos to share, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Thank you to everyone who came out to see us perform!
And if you missed it, don't fret, because we have shows coming up this Sunday in DC and the following weekend in Canada. Plan accordingly, and we'll seeya then/there!
Almost one full year ago, we posted this quick update from Latvia, wherein we described our exciting television appearance and a couple other little pop-ups in local media. At the bottom we said:
"We are 90% sure that we are also featured on the official Dziesmu Svētku website somewhere, but Namejs admin is yet to track that one down. If anyone has any leads on that, please let us know!"
Well, it took 11 months, but with a random unrelated Google search Namejs Admin stumbled across this gem, a snapshot of our reunion with our former leader Sandra Daubure that we squeezed in between rehearsals. Looks like we made it into the official Dziesmu Svetki Flickr page. Not too shabby!
Are you sad that you missed our performance at the EU Open House event last month? Are the amazing photos in our photo session not enough to make you feel like you were there? Well have no fear, because we now have videos of our performance available for your viewing pleasure. They are available here in our video section. Here's a free sample:
June is here, and with it, the craziest month of the Namejs calendar. To help navigate the madness, here's a chronological list of all Namejs' June events, from performances to dress rehearsals to out-of-state journeys.
Friday, June 6th, 8pm: Jaundeju Judging Party
Namejs dancers who don't feel like slogging through jaundeju judging spreadsheets alone are welcome to meet up at Elga's house for a fun-filled night of snacks and dance videos.
Sunday, June 8th: Philly Rehearsal
Instead of our reguarly-scheduled Sunday afternoon rehearsal, we're piling into a van and heading up to Philadelphia to join hands with our fellow dancers from Philly Dzirkstele.
Saturday, June 21st: Jāņi in Priedaine
Come check us out in Freehold, New Jersey, where we'll be celebrating the traditional Latvian summer solstice and sharing the stage yet again with Philly Dzirkstele.
Sunday, June 22nd, 4pm: Regular Sunday Rehearsal
We're pushing back a couple hours to make sure everyone can get safely home from New Jersey, rested and ready to keep dancing.
Sunday, June 29th: Heritage Days and Dress Rehearsal
Here's a real treat for you folks... Our home base, the Latvian Church of DC, is yet again participating in the Montgomery County Heritage Days event. It's also coincidentally our last Sunday rehearsal before heading out to Canada for Dziesmu Svētki, so we'll be combining the events by allowing the general public to watch us work as we put the finishing touches on a year's worth of preparations.
Over a week has passed since Namejs' most recent fun-filled gig entertaining guests of the Latvian Embassy at the 2014 EU Open House Day. We had an absolute blast, and we now have the pictures to prove it! Huge thanks to photographer Valts Vītums for hooking us up with an amazing collection of amazing photos of the day! They are available here in our photo section. We of course would also like to say thanks to the Latvian Embassy for trusting us to yet again help them represent our amazing culture. We had an absolute blast performing Ačkups, Jautraviņa, and longtime Namejs crowdpleaser Šķiratiesi Zosu Pulki. We also, incidentally, think that we may have broken our record for number of times we were asked to pose for photos. It's tough being this popular.
Keep your eyes peeled for video snippets, hopefully coming soon to our video section.
You're probably frantically checking, re-checking, and refreshing Namejs.com in anticipation of an EU Open House Day wrap-up. Don't worry, it is on the way! But in the meantime, we are approaching the end of the Namejs Dance Season, which means we have a handful of calendar announcements:
-Sunday, May 25th: NO REHEARSAL due to the Memorial Day Holiday.
-Saturday, June 21st: JANI SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION IN PRIEDAINE, NEW JERSEY!
We'll be returning to our favorite midsummer celebration, dancing away with our good friends from Philly Dzirkstale and entertaining the central New Jersey Latvian crowds. Be there or be square!
-Sunday, June 22nd, 4-6pm: Oh a related note, our regular Sunday rehearsal is pushed back a couple hours to allow all Namejs dancers safe post-Jani passage back to DC. Plus showers. Definitely need time for some showers. :/
We told you to mark Saturday, May 10th on your calendars for a potential Namejs gig, and here is why...
Namejs is proud to announce that we will be joining our friends at the Latvian Embassy for the annual super-fun European Union Open House Day! We'll be performing outside on the sidewalk (yes, the sidewalk) on and off all afternoon, so please swing by and check us out! While you're making the trip, you should meander around Embassy Row and check out some of the other exhibits (rumor has it that Ireland nextdoor has free booze). More info is available here, and photos and videos from previous years' events are available where you least expect them- in our photo and video sections.
In preparation for the event, our regular rehearsal on Tuesday, May 6th will be for only the dancers participating in EU Open House. All you other folk get the night off. Enjoy.