“This throne is for me, Tsar Maximilian!”

In northern Moldova, in the January snow, costumed performers go door-to-door performing the short folk drama “Tsar Maximilian”. The play is filled with song, music, dance, fight scenes, splendid costumes, local jokes and hanky-panky between a doctor and patient. Besides its entertainment value, “Tsar Maximilian” aims to bring good luck to the household and tasty rewards of food and drink to the performers.

“Tsar Maximilian” came here with Russian soldiers deployed to the Romanian front during WWI.  The play is now firmly incorporated into Malanca, Moldova’s traditional midwinter festival of music, song and masquerade.  In some places it is so popular that a single village has multiple troupes ranging from young boys to grown men. Volunteers will assist with photography, videography and sound recording as they interview actors, talk to audiences  and document the play itself across a range of performers.

Expedition starts and ends in Chișinău, Moldova

You can see and hear footage from our 2019 Malanca expedition here.

About This Expedition

  • Dates:

    January 9, 2025 to January 20, 2025

  • Location:

    Ocniţa district, Republic of Moldova

  • Expedition Languages:

    Romanian, Russian, English

  • Team Size:


  • Projected Fee:

    $2,500 - $3100 --- ($2125 - $2635 for enrolled US undergraduate and graduate students)

  • Apply By:

    October 30, 2024

Meet The Team

  • Dr. Svetlana Sorokina

  • head shot Yelena Minyonok

    Dr. Yelena Minyonok

    Major Researcher and Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive
    Gorky Institute of World Literature, Moscow

    Lena Minyonok is a philologist, folklorist, and Principal Investigator of the American Friends of Russian Folklore. Dr. Minyonok graduated from the Philological Department of the Moscow State University, where she received her M.A. degree from in 1988. Her postgraduate studies were at the Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1988-1991). She received her Ph.D. in Folklore (Moscow, 1998) and now serves as Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive and Major Researcher in the Folklore Division of the Gorky Institute. Dr. Minyonok has been a Principal Investigator for countless folklore expeditions and has published over 60 articles about Russian folklore traditions. Most recently, she has led expeditions for the American Friends of Russian Folklore (PREEEF’s former name) in conjunction with the Institute of World Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in 2007, as a Fulbright scholar.