Team I, January 11-22, 2004

   A winter road is a road also. Under the accompaniment of the monotonous tapping of spinning wheels and cracking wood in the hot burning stove, we are led to the parallel world of sorcerers, house spirits and forest masters. The snow clearly squeaks under our tireless feet. The new snowflakes slowly come down to the earth from the milky white sky covering our footprints. A broom with which we sweep the snow from our boots (before crossing a cherished threshold) “guards” every door in a peasant log house. Maybe a gray hear witch or a funny tailor or a skillful lace maker lives inside this threshold. We have an honor to invite you in our January expedition. The work of this team will be mainly focused on three basic programs: 

1) Russian mythological stories (house and nature spirits) 
2) Rituals: The Old New Year and Fortune Telling (January, 13)
3) Folk Art (working at the Smolensk museum of Folk Art)

We will have an expedition documenting unique winter rituals - songs, dances and the special ritual of kaliadovanie where people (women dressed as men and men dressed as women or animals) go door to door to bestow good luck and solicit treats. And nobody dares to reject giving them food and small money, because everyone knows that family happiness, health and future harvest depend on the blessing of strangers. At the evening of January, 13 the old ladies conduct a ritual of fortune telling – kol’tsa zakidyvat’. If you are interested in knowing what will happen next year, this is the place where you will get the answer.

The itinerary of our January expedition will take place in the small but famous village of Talashkino. Talashkino was an art colony active at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries that fostered the style known as Neo-Russian. The famous Russian artist Nikolai Roerikh has “designed mosaics, friezes, murals and furniture” in Talashkino -
“A major impetus to this formulation was the reevaluation of ancient Russian art (icons, embroideries, wood-carving) and the application of motifs from Russian folklore to high art”. 

For those who are interested in winter expeditions we will be happy to offer an essay of Anna Berman, a student from Brown University participated in one of our winter teams – please, click here for the winter report

The detailed itinerary is provided at the bottom of this page.

Rendezvous information 
Our staging area is Moscow. Volunteers will rendezvous in Moscow: 
January, 11, 2004 (Sunday) at the Electronic Arrivals Information Desk at Sheremetievo-2 Moscow airport at 3 p. m. 
Stores are available to volunteers before they go into the field. There is always time for volunteers to exchange money and shop for necessities before we leave for the field. After arriving we will transfer you to a simple hostel where you will spend your first night. 
On the next day we will all depart for our study area by train. We do have dinner on the train. 
In case of early arrival, volunteers should contact Yelena and Sergey Minyonok in Moscow at (095) 952-6583. Volunteers who arrive early are responsible for their own food and accommodations.

Volunteers should plan their departures from Sheremetievo-2, Moscow Airport on 
January, 22, 2004 (Thursday) 
We will be back in Moscow for the night before the set departure day. Volunteers will spend that night in Moscow, in a small hostel, departing the next day. Please, if possible, plan your departure after 10:00 a.m., Moscow time. Taxis at night in Moscow are very expensive and the group leaders in that case would be unable to accompany the volunteers because of these transportation problems. The morning of departure, a single bus will be arranged to take the team to the airport, in time to catch the earliest flight. We can always help with alternative transport arrangements but these must be at your own expense. 
We are not a tourist agency, but if time is available, we will be happy to help you plan a longer stay in Moscow or elsewhere. Volunteers who decide to stay later are responsible for their own food and accommodations. 
Please pay close attention to the dates on your visa. Usually our invitation includes the week before the project starts and an additional week after it ends. If you would like to stay longer please contact our staff members at

January 11 - arrival in Moscow, registration, hostel. 
January 12 - departure from Moscow to Smolensk by train 
January 13 - documenting of Fortune Telling Ritual 
January 14 - working at the Smolensk Museum of Folk Art, visiting Smolensk Cathedral of Assumption
January 15 - interviews with villagers about Russian mythology in Talashkino and other nearby villages 
January 16 - recording of folklore songs from Talashkino chorus
January 17 - A visit to the country-side museum estate of princess Maria K. Tenisheva
in Flenovo (village Talashkino). The exhibition "Russian antiques".
January 18 - interviews about Russian mythology in Talashkino village 
January 18 – working at the Smolensk Museum of Folk Art
January 19 – recording of folklore songs from Talashkino village 
January 20 - interviews about a local variant of wedding rituals 
January 21 - departure from Talashkino village to Smolensk, departure from Smolensk to Moscow 
January 22 - departure from Moscow 

of Alberta
Dr. Natalie
University of
Wisconsin Dr.
James Bailey
University of
Colorado at
Boulder Dr.
Laura Olson
University of
Dr. Rouhier-