Tatiana Sannikova

Folklore can't be framed

Graduated from the Faculty of Philology of Perm State University. Folklorist, organizer of major festivals, including «Zhivaia Perm» (Perm Alive — ed.), «Zov Parmy» (The Call of Parma — ed.), «59 festivals of 59 regions» and many others. General Director of the Perm House of Folk Arts «Guberniya.»


  • I came to folklore through wonder.
  • We are now working to celebrate, and our great-grandmothers were celebrating to work successfully.
  • Everything in traditional culture is rational to the max.
  • If the work of the concert administrator is done well, then it is not visible.
  • The «dough» of your task will always come out of the «pan» that you have. Therefore, we can ingeniously make things at the bench scale.

My story

I consider myself a Perm citizen, although I was not born here, but I grew up in Perm: our family came to live in Perm when I was two years old. Parents are children of their era: the father is from Kiev, the mother comes from a small Far Eastern village. They met in Komsomolsk-on-Amur at a factory where, after the Leningrad shipbuilding institute, the dad went «to the fog and the smell of taiga» to build ships. So my grandmothers lived very far away — at different ends of our country: one in Kiev, other in the Amur region. The expression «to go to visit grandmother» boggled my young mind — it was necessary to RIDE to any grandmother for a long, long time!

And this is my «non-village» childhood served the freshness of perm folklore perception. For me, folklore is not nostalgia for the barefoot childhood at Grandma, for me, this is an endless discovery and surprise.

My mother — a big fan of ballet and high poetry — could hardly imagine that her daughter would connect her life with peasant art. And who would have thought that a weekend trip would be «fateful» for me? In the first university year, we got to Khokhlovka with my company. The museum then worked in its early years, none of ours had ever been there, and here came the reason to visit it: it was great weather and an All-Russiam folklore festival. So we went by ship along the Kama River. We went ashore and... I remember this feeling of harmony for the rest of my life! The amazing beauty of the harsh Ural nature, combined with simple village architecture, built without any odds, without decorations and circlet, songs without a rostrum, microphones and simulated fun, the sound of an unfamiliar melody floating above the Kama. Somehow everything was for real, honestly, naturally. It hooked me.

And literally in a week, we, freshmen of the Philological Faculty, went to folklore practice in the village. And along with the girls from the university folk ensemble! We were immediately applied to give concerts. And so we, like the musicians of Bremen, began to give concerts in collective farms on the fields. I remember well how we were traveling on a train and taught a couple of simple folk songs. A new surprise has appeared — an indescribable feeling of polyphony, the magic of sound into which you are immersed.

It is considered that the folk sound is something special, although it is the most natural sound, the very «natural voice» that everyone has. Among the many carriers of traditional culture, with whom we talked for twenty expeditionary years, no one to sing falsely: after all, traditional culture is a phenomenon that is surprisingly holistic, capacious, multifaceted, where everything has its place and its meaning. And it surprised too. How so? There are music schools, music is in general education, and most of our contemporaries are people without a pitch. And villagers — without any musical education — can build a song with 5-6 voice parts. What's the secret? I think the secret is in the ability to hear, listen and coexist. The most valuable thing in this culture for a modern person is communication, the ability to interact: to build an ensemble, to find its place in a team. If you really sing — the greatest pleasure you get is not from what you sang the best, but from the fact that the song has come right and everyone has found the voice that was not enough in the ensemble. In fact, the song — especially polyphonic one — is not to listen, but to be in it.

Traditional culture is very pragmatic, rational and holistic. Much of it, even at first glance it seems strange, outrageous, barbaric, is often in fact endowed with great meaning and age-long wisdom. And the person acted in such a way without thinking. Just because it is accepted as necessary from year to year, from century to century. We often do amiss without thinking about the consequences of tomorrow. We give the tastiest morsel to the child — and after years we are surprised, why is he such an egoist? Instead of lullabies, we turn on gadgets — and then we wonder why a teenager is such complicated and avoidant? To be different from everyone is the dignity of today's era. The manifestation of individuality is the main thing. And there are no borders. Try as much as possible to show your personality in tough boundaries «it is accepted and that's it.» Here begins the keen folk art.

Not all rustic traditions are needed and important today. But the main tradition — the experience of communication, coexistence, focusing on a collective result — has been useful to me more than once in my professional activities and in raising my own daughter. My expeditionary meetings many times gave me the reason to think: what is essential and valuable in life? We live today — in comparison with our grandfathers — nourishing, idly, safely. And all the time we whine, complain and grumble. The share of our old people had so much pain and grief — and they know how to appreciate every piece of bread, every ray of sun. I don't idealize, but traditional culture is far from just silly ditties, it is the fates of people, a multifaceted human experience, a rich national culture that cannot be lost. And it is regrettable if this phenomenon leaves everyday life.

More than 20 years of my life are connected with the folk-ethnographic studio «Peselnaya Artel»: expeditionary fieldwork, scientific publications, concerts, costume designer's experience, theatrical performances and — as it is now called — project activity. What projects we did not take part in! From the filming in a feature film to the show of the collection of folk costume at the fashion festival. I even have a diploma with the signature of Yudashkin (a famous Russian designer — ed.). Now I don't even believe that from a folklore expedition to a distant Komi-Permyak village we almost hitchhiked to Moscow for filming in a TV show on the Russia channel, participated in advertising clips, worked in a repertoire drama performance, participated in an experimental choreographical performance, and for few years regularly showed our own performance. I have something to remember! The other day, a disk with the first Russian computer game-quest based on Permian fairy tales, where our songs are played, came across my eyes. It was published in Sweden... in 1997! Even today, many of our artworks projects look interesting, fresh, innovative.

And twenty years ago, I had just an interesting festival life. It is with me today. Only at first I was a participant, and then I became an organizer. My experience in festival management has been since 1995, from the first Flahertiana. And then there were the Kabalevsky Festival, «Fringe Festival,» «Jazz Fever,» «Red Dress,» «Kamwa,» «Formula for Success,» «Gruner Festival,» «Student Spring» and others. Somewhere while moving from office to office, the collection of my organizer badges was lost. And then I somehow stopped preserving the badges of the projects to which I related. And by that time there were more than 400 of them. Ten years ago...

A new twist on my life brought the festival «Living Perm.» It became for me a strength test and the beginning of a new stage of life. The festival of contemporary art — against any logic — is connected with the beginning of my work in the House of Folk Art. «Gubernia» for me is the most large-scale festival project and, I hope, not the last in my life.

Here I have a fascinating task — to make an institution whose mission is to preserve and update the non-material cultural heritage for modern, interesting residents of the metropolis and create a point of attraction for our colleagues, cultural institutions in the region. After all, «Guberniya» is not just a palace of culture, we are a methodical center, a «head» enterprise for 760 cultural institutions in the region. So all my experience — both festival, and folklore, and managerial — became useful.

I love organizational and creative work very much, it is difficult to divide here, where is the organization, and where is the art direction. Qualitatively done organizational work is as a rule not noticeable. It seems to everyone that everything goes by itself. The work of the organizers is desperately visible when this work is done poorly: something does not fit in, the organizers in a sweat heroically solve problems. And my task and the task of our team is to make the viewer be «inside» the holiday so that everything is as natural as possible. To make him not a passive observer, but an accomplice of the event. And this task is definitely a directorial task. But without a well-built step-by-step logistics, it is impossible to implement this idea. So one without the other does not work.

As an example, the All-Russian festival of winter folklore «Sochelnik» (Christmas Eve — ed.). Can an event for 500-600 participants and 5 thousand spectators give a chamber format, create an atmosphere of a village's old holiday, make the viewer be «inside»? At first glance, the problem has no solution. However, our experience clearly shows that this can be done! Instead of putting a strict jury in the hall and releasing folklore groups to the stage with Christmas folklore, we tried to figure out how to make the competition program natural and interesting for both the participant and the viewer. The carol competition (an old custom to go caroling in the birth of Christ) has been held for many years at the «Sochelnik» at a hotel at 7 am. And the hotel (this year the hotel «Prikamye») turns into a village street without any decorations — it is worth the festival participants to leave their rooms and go to the next rooms to praise Christ and congratulate people with Christmas. Imagine the experience of ordinary hotel guests! They also become natural participants in this ritual action. When we first put this episode into the program of the festival, we argued for a long time and doubted: at 7 am? At the hotel? Will the participants get up? Will jury members come? Won't we bother the hotel guests? But everything turned out: the ritual act and enthusiastic reviews of the hotel guests. A few festivals later, we realized that now in the competition program we cannot even write this episode. The participants themselves go early in the morning caroling — in whatever hotel they now live. It has now become a tradition of the festival itself.

Or the tradition of pelmeni help. After all, it is impossible to make pelmeni in an intimate atmosphere in a company of 500 people? No, it's possible! The main thing is to think and organize. This year, our participants in the «Sochelnik» festival and even fifty spectators have jointly made more than 50 kg of Ural pelmeni together! And then with pleasure, we ate at a joint feast. I am proud to say that our pelmeni's know-how is gaining popularity. Our Moscow colleagues also took up our idea: this fall the pelmeni party was held in the Moscow club «Selsovet», and a little earlier the Ural pelmeni were inspiredly cooked with the songs and the unhurried conversation by the doctors of science and professors — participants of International Scientific Conference of the State Russian House of Folk Art. V. D. Polenova.

If we want to preserve and popularize folklore, we must do everything so that traditional culture wonders and produces vivid emotional impressions. Folklore has and should have a place in modern life. And we yet haven't used for this all available resources and opportunities. If I were interested in traditional culture in itself, I would work as a researcher in any institution or department, but I like organization, drive, energy. Folklore can't be framed. This phenomenon is alive, it cannot even be touched, its foundation is in the heart and in the head, and its carrier is a person. If my team and I are going the right way, then at least we shall slightly extend its natural, non-scenic existence. And let it be my little contribution to eternity.