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CHILDREN'S FOLK-DANCE ENSEMBLE VIENOK TURNS 35 THIS YEAR

Top pick: Folk-dance hatchery

THE OLDEST and largest children's folk-dance group in Bratislava, Vienok, will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a grand show in the capital's Istropolis Culture Centre on May 31.
The group, which puts on about 20 performances every year all around the world, has been the starting point for many dancers who have ended up in the two largest folk ensembles in Slovakia - Lúčnica and SĽUK.
"For me, Vienok signifies my childhood, friends, and free time," says 23-year-old Barbora Skraková, a soloist with Lúčnica who danced with Vienok for nine years. "The ensemble is a very good preparation for children who want to enter larger groups."


YOUNG dancers show off Slovakia's rich cultural heritage.
photo: Ctibor Bachratý

THE OLDEST and largest children's folk-dance group in Bratislava, Vienok, will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a grand show in the capital's Istropolis Culture Centre on May 31.

The group, which puts on about 20 performances every year all around the world, has been the starting point for many dancers who have ended up in the two largest folk ensembles in Slovakia - Lúčnica and SĽUK.

"For me, Vienok signifies my childhood, friends, and free time," says 23-year-old Barbora Skraková, a soloist with Lúčnica who danced with Vienok for nine years. "The ensemble is a very good preparation for children who want to enter larger groups."

For the upcoming Istropolis show, around 80 children of the 100-member Vienok will demonstrate traditional folk dances in a 90-minute performance entitled Vienok rokmi uvitý (Garland of Years). They will stage several works from the ensemble's repertoire accompanied by the live folk music of Andrej Záhorec. The whole show will be further enriched by videos of the group's past performances projected above the stage.

"Almost all Slovak regions will be represented in the programme," says Dana Blahová, 44, who has been the group's choreographer for 25 years.

"Our repertoire, which consists of works collected over the past 35 years, is pretty wide and rich. We mainly perform dances based on Bratislava folklore, but our inspiration also comes from as far away as the Šariš and Zemplín regions in eastern Slovakia," Blahová explains.


VIENOK will perform on May 31.
photo: Ctibor Bachratý

Blahová is the daughter of Vienok's founder and current leader, Helena Jurasovová. Jurasovová was attracted to Slovak folklore while accompanying her father when he collected traditional songs in the western Záhorie region. Later, working at a children's centre, she had the idea to establish a children's folk group on her own. She started with 20 children.

"I realised that everything around me was changing but a good song and working with children will never lose their meaning. I managed to make my dream come true," Jurasová says.

The group was named Vienok soon after it was formed. It was named after the most performed song in the group's repertoire at the time - Ružový vienok (Rose Garland).

During the 35 years of its existence, 1,200 children between the ages of 4 and 17 have danced with Vienok.

"There were times when I was very sick and then I came back to teach and I realised what those sparkling eyes meant to me. It's amazing to work with children, because children give you power," Jurasová says.

Vienok's performance starts at 17:00 on May 31 at the Istropolis Culture Centre, Trnavské mýto 1, Bratislava. Tickets (Sk120) can be bought at the centre's box office. For more information call 02/5022-8241 or visit www.vienok.sk.

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