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YOUNG LITHUANIAN DANCERS SHOWCASE CULTURE, BUILD BRIDGES

May 20. 2019—SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS–The SUVARTUKAS Folk Dance Ensemble of Plunge, Lithuania, will present a FREE exhibition by 12 teenage dancers showcasing the traditional costumes, music and dance of their country at 7 p.m. Monday, May 20, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

They will perform again for free from 10:45-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the Springfield Senior Center on Mason Street before departing Wednesday for Chicago.

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Yesterday, the award-winning dancers performed for a full house in the Atrium of the Illinois State Museum. Their Hoogland Center performance tonight will be as guests of the Springfield International Folk Dancers.

The talented, young Lithuanian dance troupe is on a two-week tour of the U.S. as part of the nonprofit Rotary Children’s Fund’s “Golden Gates” Youth Cultural Exchange program that aims to build bridges across countries and cultures.

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Suvartukas offers audiences an entertaining and authentic glimpse into the nation of Lithuania, its people and history, through dance, costumes, and music. The group’s repertoire presents traditional folk masterpieces and has something for everyone, including audience participation though clapping and dancing with the group in a grand finale

“We are excited and proud to meet these young ambassadors of Lithuania, a nation that sent 2,000 immigrants to our area more than 100 years ago,” said Sandy Baksys, spokesperson for the Lithuanian-American Club of Central Illinois. The Lithuanian Club and Sunrise Rotary are local co-sponsors of the dancers’ three-day visit to Springfield.

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Yesterday, the young Lithuanians and their choreographer, Ilona Baltikauskaite, were welcomed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in the rotunda of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Senator Durbin spoke of his own mother, Ona Kutkaite, who immigrated to East St. Louis from Lithuania as a child.

“This will be a great chance for many in our area to re-connect with their lost Lithuanian heritage,” Baksys said. “But the lively dancing and music are really for everyone—these are exhilarating, educational and free performances–in beautiful costumes–for audiences of all ages.”

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