Roma folklore interpreted by non-Roma

THE PERFORMANCE of gypsy songs and dances by non-Roma is a trend that is becoming more and more common. The great interest in flamenco and the genre of ethno music in Slovakia and worldwide is one proof of this. Although authenticity will undoubtedly always be in demand, you no longer have to be an Andalusian Gypsy to learn to perform as a professional flamenco dancer.
While the folklore of Spanish Roma is well known all over the world, much less explored are the songs and dances of the eastern European Roma.

THE PERFORMANCE of gypsy songs and dances by non-Roma is a trend that is becoming more and more common. The great interest in flamenco and the genre of ethno music in Slovakia and worldwide is one proof of this. Although authenticity will undoubtedly always be in demand, you no longer have to be an Andalusian Gypsy to learn to perform as a professional flamenco dancer.

While the folklore of Spanish Roma is well known all over the world, much less explored are the songs and dances of the eastern European Roma. The Košice folk-dance group Železiar has attempted to change this with their new performance Gadži, Romale-Čhavale, with which they are touring the country.

There is no Roma performer in the group. More importantly, they did not travel to Spain to find exoticism. They found it right here, in their own backyard.

What they found was a rich treasure of songs and dances, mainly from eastern Slovakia. Ancient Roma songs collected on the CD entitled Phurikane Giľa served as an inspiration for the choice of the themes in their performance. Other than interpreting the folklore of the Slovak Roma, Železiar has also included songs and dances from Hungary and Romania. This is the first time that traditional dance and music from the Roma of these countries has been presented in a Slovak group's repertoire.

The result is a colourful and varied performance. The issue of authenticity is, of course, always present. While it is questionable whether the performers have the real Gypsy feeling in their dancing and singing, they do present a mosaic of different Roma cultures to the audience, which, in itself, is worthy of applause.

The Gadži, Romale-Čhavale dance show can be seen on December 7 at 17:00 at Banská Bystrica's House of Culture (Dom kultúry), and on December 13 at 19:00 at Bratislava's Zrkadlový háj House of Culture.

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