July 21, 2014

Related by Marriage: A Dance Festival, in Three Takes

Thirty years ago this month, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, hosted the Seventh World Lithuanian Dance Festival. Founded by Lithuanian Displaced Persons in 1957, the Dance Festival had convened every four years in Chicago through 1980. The Cleveland event was the first festival hosted outside of Chicago. Cleveland's ties to Lithuanian immigration and its tradition of preserving language and cultural practices paralleled Chicago’s. The city's decision to host the 1984 festival seemed like a natural extension of the Dance Festival tradition.
Mr. Irene was among the 2,000 folk dancers at the 1984 festival. He was the newest member of the Connecticut-based Lithuanian dance group, Vėtra. Mr. Irene had joined the group just three months before its festival debut in Cleveland. 

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Cleveland, Ohio, July, 1984.  Mr. Irene arrives in Cleveland in his rental car, a 1984 Pontiac Fiero. The car Mr. Irene originally had reserved car was not available, so the car-rental agency offered him the sports car at no additional cost.

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Cleveland, Ohio, July, 1984. Vėtra members perform at the Dance Festival.

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