The Ensembles Evening: A Festive Ritual and a Theatrical Spectacle
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords:Lithuanian Song Festiva, Ensembles Evening, festive ritual, theatrical spectacle
The twentieth Lithuanian Song Festival took place in 2018 and coincided with the centenary of the restoration of independent Lithuania. In this article, celebration is semiotically analysed as a practice. The object of analysis is the Ensembles Evening, in which stylized folk dances, folk music and theatrical elements are combined to create a spectacle. The article aims to reveal what values dominate in the Ensembles Evening, what is the rela- tion between tradition and modernity, and what type of Lithuanian identity is promoted there.
Scientific publications dedicated to the Lithuanian Song Festivals are mostly historical studies, whereas newspaper and online articles for the larger part contain either general criticism without any analytical justification, or emotional descriptions of the festive experience. The aim of this article is an objective analysis of the Ensembles Evening rather than its evaluation.
The analysis showed that the Ensembles Evening is a field of social, historical and aesthetic tensions. The underlying tension unfolds between the evening as a festive ritual and the evening as a theatrical spectacle. The ritu- alized festival presents a model of a syncretic Lithuanian identity based on the agricultural folk culture and the Baltic pagan religion together with the image of an eternally young and timeless society offered by the secular modern world. Thus, national identity emerges as a construct, in which the 19th century Ro- manticist and the 21st century contemporary images of identity intertwine.
Through a theatrical spectacle, which is scenic and visual in its nature, the problem of the relationship between tradition and modernity is revealed: although the forms of expression are changing and successful exper- imentations with folklore are being carried out, the content remains the same, and the themes of an agricultural, family-oriented community dominate in the Ensembles Evening.