"The last day of the Gjirokaster festival in Albania last week, the group of 18 foreigners I was in was asked to do a short performance on the main festival stage. Genci Katsrati and Cees Hillebrand arranged costumes, we danced ... and later watched ourselves on Albanian television! At the end of the performance we went down from the stage and danced with the audience... this is how Lee Otterholt, one of the dancers from California comments the video on his Facebook Page.
The initiator of all this is Cees Hillebrand the founder of albanian-folklore.com designed to make Albanian folklore in all its aspects accessible for everyone who takes interest in Albanian folklore. The website, as Cees describes it was named in respect to the Albanian people, living in Albania and neighboring countries like Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. The folklore of the Albanians who left their country to Italy from the 16th century onwards, called Arbëresh, has evolved in a different way through the centuries and is not taken into account in this project for the moment, although it will be very interesting to see the similarities and differences.Cees Hillebrand in cooperation with Albania Holidays and professional dancers from Albanian National Folk Ensemble is running seminar and tours to Albania since 2010. Many tourists from different countries who share the passion for Albanian folk music and dances come to visit Albania and combine their tour with dance seminars. Cees is doing a great job also in documenting this with photos and videos.
It is so touching when you see foreigners to dance so beautifully and passionately our folk dances. We have shared previously another video when they sing the famous song :Janines c'i pane syte" with a very professional "iso" and combination of voices.
About Cees Hillebrand
Cees was born in the Netherlands and took interest in Albanian folklore during one of his visits to western Macedonia, at that time a republic of the Yugoslav federation, many years ago. As Albania was closed at that time for foreigners it was difficult to get reliable information.
Albania remained a mystery to him and he started to study the Albanian folklore from whatever kind of information source he could get and finally in 2004 he was able to visit the Gjirokastër festival and experience with own eyes and ears the richness of the Albanian folklore.
He cooperates with people from the National Ensemble of Folk Songs and Dances (AKKVP) in Tirana, scientists from the Academy of Science, ethnology department, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana, people from the Centre for Immaterial folk culture, the Institute for Albanology at the University of Kosovo in Pristine and many others.(source: albanian-folklore.com)
If you would like to take the tour, see description here http://www.albania-holidays.com/tours-to-albania/albania-folk-tour