The Chicago area dance group “Grandis” was organized in 1953. The group flourished and grew rapidly. It quickly became and still remains one of the major Lithuanian dance ensembles in North America, and is the oldest in Chicago and its neighboring suburbs. We are currently celebrating our 56rd dancing season.
Over 1200 dancers have danced in “Grandis” over the years. At the present time, our dancers range in age from preschool children thru middle-aged adults and young-at-heart seniors.
From its modest beginning, “Grandis’ ” repertoire expanded to over 200 dances. “Grandis” dancers perform programs with traditional, folk and stylized Lithuanian dances. They often incorporate traditional customs, folk vignettes, poetry, folk songs, music and folk instruments.
Throughout its dance history, “Grandis” has represented Lithuanians in City of Chicago and State of Illinois programs. The ensemble has performed in most of the Lithuanian communities throughout the United States and Canada. “Grandis” has traveled abroad, as well. We have danced in Venezuela, Brazil, and in Australia. Perhaps the most memorable to the dancers are the performances in Lithuania in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2014. In July 2009, “Grandis” participated in the national Lithuanian Song Festival in our capital city Vilnius. This festival was organized to commemorate the 1000 year anniversary of Lithuania’s presence in historical writings. In July 2014, “Grandis” returned to the Lithuanian Song Festival with 46 dancers.
Lithuanian folk dance groups have played an important role in Lithuanian American communities. There is no other cultural activity which unites so many people of different age groups. For Lithuanians, the medium of dance fosters a better understanding of their cultural identity and spirit. Traditional folk dancing helps Lithuanians to preserve their rich ethnic heritage and traditions.