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From Russia with Love

In 1993, he came to America and enrolled at the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, about an hour west of Albany, where he became a formal apprentice in the iconography studio. The seminary is a traditional theological college under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

"My diploma work was painting an entire chapel," Dzyuba said.

After graduating from the seminary, Dzyuba settled in Troy. He set up a studio in his house, allowing him to work from home. He has created icons for Christians in the United States and abroad, and he's worked with churches and community groups.

Dzyuba also occasionally paints and decorates eggs, as is Russian tradition. He will demonstrate the craft of egg painting at the winter festival.

It's part of the festival's emphasis on Russian folk art, which Lichtenwalter believes is "the core" of Russian culture.

"Everything comes from the folk art," she said. "When I was growing up in Russia, I was surrounded by it. When I moved to the U.S., I missed it."

Lichtenwalter, who is president of the New Russian Cultural Center, dreams of one day having a building to house the center where folk art and other items can be displayed. For now, the group is essentially a traveling one, hosting programs at local libraries and schools. Lichtenwalter said one of its most popular offerings is Russian language classes.

"Parents want their children to know the language," she said.

It's not just Russian-born parents who want their children to speak Russian. Several couples who have adopted children from Russia have enrolled them in classes so they don't lose their native language.

The New Russian Cultural Center applied for a federal grant not long after its founding three years ago, but "They said, 'You are just brand new,'" Lichtenwalter said. "We have to show we can do something."

The winter festival is one of those things. Lichtenwalter noted that organizers are hoping admission, which is $5 for adults and $2 for children, will simply cover the cost of the event. In the future, there will be fundraisers to help pay for a building for the New Russia Cultural Center.

The festival is Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Crossings of Colonie from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, visit www.newrussiacenter.org.""

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