Alfastep Association was founded in early 2014 when the children's theater workshop coordinators - Nicoleta Salbatecu and Doina Bruma - of the "Radu Rosetti" Municipal Library in Onesti wanted the transformation of the "Alfa" theater group Trupa Alfa into an association whose main purpose was to educate the community members through non-formal means. We wanted to expand, enrich and diversify non-formal education and extend audience, by being engaged in local, national and European projects with the Association in order to support disadvantaged people from our community.
Lifelong learning has become a new direction to be developed within the Association and the participation – as volunteers for BRAT ONEST- of the two children's theater group coordinators in ACT- Active Citizens Learning Through Theater partnership Grundvig (2012-2014) has given the opportunity to understand the need of adults’ learning as well as the impact that a well thought project may have in their lives. After ACT project LDG-ACT.RO group became part of Alfastep, creating conditions for IGL.
Also, starting with 2018, we intensified the collaboration with different musicians, set up a choir made up of adults and children, wanted to put into practice some ideas that MusInc project (Erasmus + Strategic Partnership 2016-2018 - where we have participated as volunteers for BRAT ONEST NGO) inspired us. With this team, composed by adults and children, Alfastep developed the project „Theater. Tradition. Thesaurus” in which we approach a new form of musical theater, offering performances for rural communities in the neighboring villages, where there is a disadvantaged population that has limited access at culture and education.
The choir also occasionally sings at Home for the Elderly in Onesti, especially on holidays (Mother's Day, Christmas, etc.).
The repertoire of Alfastep Choir is composed mainly of traditional songs, aiming at promoting the Romanian folklore as well as creating a connection between young people and adults / old people by connecting to the values of the past. Also, our repertoire contains choral works inspired by Romanian folklore, composed by great Romanian composers of choral music.
Because the Alfastep choir is made up of adults and children, the songs chosen are suitable for all ages. In addition, the audience is often made up of adults and children and we must always find a way to get everyone's attention and to get involved in singing.
Because our choir sings in musical theater performances, the choristers must be actors, even dancers, when needed.
Throughout choral rehearsa ls, the focus is on intergenerational learning. Children are invited to express their opinions, the adults support and openly receive children's ideas. All of us are teachers and students in the same time. Musical strategies are adapted to the skills of the choralists and to their age. Sometimes the rehearsals tend to be very long due to the differences in perception of the choristers. It is both interesting and quite tiring, especially for our conductor, Alina Coitu.
The choir is composed of people with musical training and amateurs. Each adds value to the performance, and the technical support without which the shows will be much poorer is provided by Razvan Niculescu.
We use musical instruments (donation from BRAT ONEST NGO to Alfastep, made during MusInc project) as much as possible, especially percussion instruments because they imprint the rhythm and liveliness of the show. Most of the time the audience is delighted that they recognize the songs and join the choir, even when it has a new approach to the songs.
Ever since we founded the association, we have made social inclusion an important goal. There was an constantly effort to provide non-formal education for children, in the direction of their personal development, self-confidence and communication and socializing skills.
From the very beginning we were interested in offering through our activity a support to those children who were in difficult situations: children raised by grandparents, because parents work abroad, children from families with problems, vulnerable children for different reasons. Music was an integral part of the theater from the beginning. But working with adults and the establishment of the choir brought a major change in the approach to musical theater and the chosen repertoire. The theater and the music, through their dimensions of non-formal education, have offered children and adults many benefits such as:
The project „Theater. Tradition. Thesaurus”
The Alfastep choir is interested in the musical tradition of the Valea Trotuşului area. All urban centers in the area suffered a considerable decline in quality of life during the last thirty years, mostly due to migration of working-age people, that resulted in the uprooting of communities and the loss of interest in local traditions and values.
The choir aims at identifying, collecting, interpreting and transmitting traditional songs belonging to the area through a project that makes use of both musical and theatrical skills of its members, both adults and children. The project, called "Theater. Tradition. Thesaurus" supports musical theater shows that combine traditional folk songs and modern songs in rural areas with disadvantaged population with limited access to culture and education, intending to reconnect generations by transmitting values, traditions and, in particular, folk songs.
The pandemic affected us all, not only because it imposed social distance on us, but also because each of us experienced states of anxiety and confusion. We all feared for our health and the health of those around us. In such conditions, the activity of the choir was interrupted for a long time. Some of us became ill with Covid, others had close relatives who contracted the virus.
The chorists kept in touch by phone and as much as possible we met in open spaces at first, then in closed spaces to be able to repeat, but keeping our distance and wearing masks.
Everything was different, from all points of view. It's true that every time we meet we try to ignore the masks and the new situation we are in, but it's complicated to feel able to sing when there is a permanent danger hovering over you. The obsession with distance, clean hands, masks ... all greatly diminished the joy of our meetings and singing.
We managed to rehearse, not to lose contact with each other and to keep our interest alive for the project. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet online for various reasons:
But, whenever was possible, we met and rehearsed, we learned the songs of foreign partners, we sent the videos of those who could not be present at rehearsals.