The four members of the DRAGO ensemble: Valentina Shakhovskaya, Sergei Plazovsky, Vitaly Studilov, and Yulia Studilova


Program Bio
Open World Cultural Leaders Program, April-May 2009
Hosted by the World Music Folklife Center

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Drago was founded in February 2007 by a group of like-minded Saint Petersburg artists and musicians. Each of the four members has an extensive background performing both in Russia and abroad (China, Singapore, France, Germany, Cyprus, Japan, Finland, etc.). All of the members of the Drago ensemble collect and preserve Romani folk music and dance traditions. At the same time, they are not afraid to incorporate new means of expression both for the six string guitar (Flamenco, Classical Guitar variations by S. Palzovsky) and for the seven string guitar. Their repertoire combines traditional Russian Romani songs, contemporary material, and ballads, the essential Romani genre, born from a successful symbiosis of Russian and Romani culture. Drago includes members of famous Romani dynasties who draw on ancient dance traditions that have all but been forgotten in our time.

The group performed with great success at the 2007 Sondip Festival in Turku, Finland, among numerous other Russian and international festivals.

Ensemble Members

Valentina Shakhovskaya is a singer and dancer. She belongs to the famous Shakhovsky dynasty of Russian Romani. Following in the footsteps of her family, Valentina became a performer. She has worked with famous ensembles including Yagori, Svenko, Shatry, Monisty, and others. She has been honored in Russian and international competitions.

Sergey Plazovsky is a guitar virtuoso who studied with V. Yampolsky at the Musorgsky Music College. His first stage experience came about thanks to a collaboration with the famous guitarist A. Barsukov. He has worked with famous ensembles including Gypsy Commons (Tsigansky Dvor), Dark Eyes (Ochi Chyorniye), The Demidov Gypsies (Demidovskiye Tsiganye), Petersburg Roma (Peterburgska Roma), and others. He is a many time winner of Primavera folk music festival.

Vitaly Studilov is a singer, seven string guitarist, collector of Romani folk music, and director of the DRAGO Ensemble. He has performed solo and group work on stages across Russia. He has been an accompanist for many well-known Saint Petersburg vocalists, and has worked with ensembles including Petersburg Roma (Peterburgska Roma), Imperial, The Demidov Gypsies (Demidovskiye Tsiganye), Dark Eyes (Ochi Chyorniye), and others. He is a winner of international and all-Russian competitions.

Yulia Studilova is a dancer. She is a member of the famous Martsinkevich dynasty of Russian Romani, whose dancers are known across Russia and beyond its borders. Yulia has not departed from her family traditions. She has worked in such well known ensembles as Chergen, Gypsy Commons (Tsigansky Dvor), Shatry, Dark Eyes (Ochi Chyorniye), and others. She is a winner of international and all-Russian prizes.