The cast and crew of "The Soul Dance," a new documentary film and TV series about a traditional Serbian dance style, finished a segment of their project in Washington DC. The project includes current and former Eastern Mennonite University professors and two alumni. (Courtesy photos)

Documentary and TV series films in Washington DC with EMU professors and alumni

A segment of The Soul Dance, a new documentary film and TV series, finished after filming in front of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, White House and other locations in Washington DC. Among the crew were current and former EMU professors and two EMU alumni. 

The project is focused around Kolo, a traditional Serbian (and South Slavic) dance that has been included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Soul Dance speaks of the significance of Kolo, its origin, beauty and specificity. It was filmed with the help of the Serbian Cultural Center Opancici.

This is a story of tradition and identity of the Serbian people, and about cultivating happiness through dance, says Zeljko Mirkovic, director and producer of the project and former EMU professor. Mirkovic is the director of Optimistic Film; his previous feature-length documentary, Tesla Nation, was a candidate for the 2020 Oscars. 

Watch the trailer here.

Along with Mirkovic, who taught in EMU’s VACA department during the 2016-17 school year, EMU Visual and Communication Arts professor Jerry Holsopple and Joaquin Sosa ‘13 were in charge of cameras, and Rances Rodriguez ‘19 did sound design.

EMU visual and communication arts professor Jerry Holsopple (left) and Zeljko Mirkovic, who taught in EMU’s VACA department during the 2016-17 school year.

Sosa now works for The Hill, a prominent US political website in the DC area. Rodriguez does photography, web design, and digital illustration for Mayan Painting LLC on the east coast. Holsopple’s most recent collaborative project with EMU theater professor Justin Poole, “Bonhoeffer: Cell 92,” was an immersive theater and cinematic experience. After local showings, the show toured in Austria in May 2022.

Mirković says that “Kolo is an energetic machine deeply rooted in our DNA, from which it extracts its magical energy and power.” The dance is a symbol of solidarity, which brings together the old and the young and unifies the Serbian people wherever they may be in the world.

For the project, Serbian Cultural Center Opancici in Washington gathered together dancers from its three Folklore ensembles, its girls’ choir, the Chamber choir Srbijana, soloist accordion player Marko-Mitić-Kalča, Ethno group for promotion of folklore costumes and tradition, as well as the Children’s Choir and Children folklore ensemble of St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church. Filming was also supported by the Embassy of Serbia in Washington, DC.

The Soul Dance is being realized in cooperation with the Serbian National Ensemble Kolo, Ethnographic Museum of Belgrade, Serb National Federation in Pittsburgh, USA, National Ensemble Venac from Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) and the Tourist Organization of Serbia. Up until now, this project has been supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Province of Vojvodina Secretariat for Cultures, cities of Niš, Pirot, Zaječar and Užice as well as Serbian Cultural Center Opancici in Washington, DC.