Russian Heritage Month Observed

Representatives from My Way Development Center, with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (Photo courtesy of the Russian American Federation)

[Editor’s note: In mid-July, the Russian American Foundation wraps up its 15th annual Russian Heritage Month celebrations in New York City. Exhibits, performances, readings and other events mark the annual festival, which aims, according to the foundation to show “the legacy and achievements of the First, Second and Third Waves of the Russian-speaking émigrés from former Soviet Republics to the United States.”

This year, in connection with the activities, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams honored numerous members of the Russian-American community at a ceremony at Borough Hall. Lyudmila Balabay wrote in Forum Daily about the event.

And in Russkaya Reklama, Marina Laguna reports on two concurrent exhibitions that recently closed at the National Arts Club – one of sculptures by Ella Kogan, and another of photographs from the archives from the Russian news agency TASS of Russian ballet dancers.]

New York has noted the contribution of the Russian-speaking community in the development and prosperity of Brooklyn

On June 15, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams gathered representatives of the Russian-speaking community in the main chamber of Borough Hall, where he, following tradition, praised and noted the input of local organizations and their leaders in the development and prosperity of Brooklyn.

The event was held on the initiative of the Russian American Foundation as part of the 15th annual festival “Nashe Nasledie” (“Our Heritage”). This year, Eric Adams emphasized the success of the following organizations:

The sports complex MatchPoint and its co-founders and leaders Dmitry Druzhinsky and Nino Muhatasov, who in the space of a few years, have managed to create in Brooklyn a truly multi-purpose sports center for the whole family, featuring a variety of programs, such as tennis, gymnastics, swimming, sambo (martial art), fitness, basketball, and many others.

Investors Bank, one of the oldest local banks founded in 1926, which as of today consists of about 150 branches and stands out from others because of its personalized approach to each and every client.

Virginia & Ambinder is a law firm specializing in the protection of labor and rights of workers, including issues such as salaries below the minimum wage, discrimination, violation of rights in the workplace, etc. Many of the firm’s lawyers are immigrants; they speak different languages and therefore can provide help to clients who have moved to the USA from different countries.

The public organization My Way Development Center, which offers a wide range of educational and cultural programs for students from 5-18 years of age and is characterized by an individual approach to each student and cultural pluralism in general.

Alexander Eberlin, a journalist with many years of experience and the founder of the newspaper “Novy New York” (“New New York”).

The famous Russian pop singer Avraam Russo was also present to provide entertainment for the guests.

Two exhibitions

Dance by Ella Kogan (Photo by Karen Pennar for Voices of NY)

The opening of the retrospective exhibition of the famous sculptor Ella Kogan took place on June 20 as part of the festival “Nashe Nasledie” (“Our Heritage”) at the National Arts Club. Her works have been on display in some of the most prestigious galleries and art shows in the USA, France, and in numerous national and international exhibitions.

Kogan’s sculptures of bronze render the essence of her soul, reveal her perception of the world, and reflect hopes, disappointments, and premonitions. Nineteen of her brightest works, such as “The Forgotten Woman,” “Jew,” “Natasha,” “Boris,” “Dance,” and others are filled with emotions and deep meaning, along with philosophical undertones. They have generated a tremendous interest from the present guests.

In an interview, Ella told us that she was a singer and a pianist and before she turned 35, had been completely unaware of her true calling, although the refined art taste she obviously inherited from her father, renowned painter Leonid Kogan, a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Leningrad.

(…) Kogan’s life changed at the age of 35, when she opened a box of clay and touched it, and felt as though her fingers were not her own anymore; something took over and began to sculpt. As a result, a figurine appeared. That was how her true calling, though deeply buried in her subconsciousness, finally came to the fore, and was recognized by Kogan.

Each of her creations is an embodiment of its own story, which reflects the diversity of human experience and the depth of human nature. Each sculptural character is not a portrait of any person in particular, but a collective image, designed to reveal a certain idea. And most importantly, the creativity of Ella Kogan never leaves the audience indifferent. It makes one think and empathize with the artist; it evokes feelings of humanism and tolerance. And therein lies the true talent of the sculptor.

In conjunction with the opening of Ella’s Kogan exhibition, the festival hosted an exhibition of unique photographs from the archives of TASS (a major news agency in Russia), dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Russian ballet. There was a particular photograph of Leonid Zhdanov, captured in 1961, in which we could see Raisa Struchkova and Maris Liepa, frozen in eternal embrace, as well as the passionate dance of Maya Plisetskaya, which seemed about to break through and escape the tight frame of the picture. A photograph by A. Kotkov (1983) was shown to display a charming Nina Ananiashvili, taking her magnificently light leap in the air. Scenes from the ballet “Swan Lake,” imprinted by photographer Oleg Vlasov in 1993, were also present at the exhibition, in addition to photographs of Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Diana Vishneva, and many others.

The art of photography is special and unique, as it allows us to catch a moment, a split second and engrave it in history, as well as in our memories forever. And it is through photography that we are able to see and know the faces of the greatest dancers, choreographers, artist, writers, athletes, and astronauts, without catching ourselves in the thought that we have never met any of them in person.

Both exhibitions were a great success and considered by many to be one of the most striking and interesting events of the year.


Such unique events, which are organized by a nonprofit organization, the Russian American Foundation, along with its President Marina Kovalyova, provide an opportunity for us to visit various exhibitions, poetry evenings with legendary artists, and so many other amazing things to see. This is now the 15th year in which the Foundation has given people the opportunity to get to know the beautiful art of different countries.

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