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DAYS OF SLOVAK EXPATRIATES IN SLOVAKIA ENLARGES ITS TRADITIONAL SCOPE

Natives catch up with fellows abroad

IF THE TWO million people of Slovak origin scattered over the world joined the five million living in Slovakia, the Slovak population could compete in number with Switzerland. The bonds between Slovaks living in their homeland and those abroad get tighter every year.
Around the Cyril and Methodius day on July 5, which is a national holiday celebrating the start of Christianity and education among the Slavic nation, the Slovak Republic invites its foreign countrymen to participate in the Days of Slovak Expatriates in Slovakia.


PERFORMERS gather at the Slovak Emigration Memorial in the capital.
photo: Courtesy of the festival

IF THE TWO million people of Slovak origin scattered over the world joined the five million living in Slovakia, the Slovak population could compete in number with Switzerland. The bonds between Slovaks living in their homeland and those abroad get tighter every year.

Around the Cyril and Methodius day on July 5, which is a national holiday celebrating the start of Christianity and education among the Slavic nation, the Slovak Republic invites its foreign countrymen to participate in the Days of Slovak Expatriates in Slovakia.

"The project is the most representative presentation of the culture, art, and life of Slovak minorities and communities living abroad seen on Slovak territory," said Claude Baláž, government plenipotentiary for Slovak expatriates.

Symbolically connected with Slovakia's 1993 independence, the festival aims to strengthen the mutual relations and cooperation between Slovak natives and their countrymen. The core of the event traditionally takes places in Bratislava and each year includes one of the country's eight regions in its programme. This 11th year fell to the nearby Nitra region.


EXPATRIATES bring Slovak traditions to Slovakia.
photo: Courtesy of the festival

"Nitra is characteristically symbolic; it is the place where history flew, and which bears traces of our national awareness," said Milan Belica, chairman of the regional government of Nitra.

Up to 200 participants who keep Slovak traditions in foreign communities and are professionally active in the arts will arrive from 14 countries to visit the Bratislava and Nitra regions between July 1 and 11.

On July 4 and 5 they will deliver their representative programmes in Bratislava and Nitra. The next two days will see them performing in the region's towns of Topoľčany and Zlaté Moravce. Their programme will culminate on July 11 in the central Slovak town of Detva, where they will join the large festival of traditional dance and music Folk Festivities Under Poľana in the programme entitled Countryman's Sunday.


photo: Courtesy of the festival

"This year the programme is composed differently than during the previous years. Along with the traditional Slovak folk dance and music performances, we would also like to present significant artistic personalities active in other genres, such as opera and musicals," said Vilma Prívarová, the head of the office of the General Secretary for Slovak Expatriates and the event's main coordinator.

From Melbourne, Australia comes the Folk Ensemble of Ľudovít Štúr; from France the Nádej (Hope) Ensemble; from Vojvodina, Yugoslavia the Rosička (Dew) folk music orchestra; and from Hungary the Červený mramor (Red Marble) group and the Folk Music of Svrčkovci (the Svrčeks).

No stranger to the Slovak public, Daniela Šinkorová, who comes from Nitra but lives in Prague, will perform musical melodies. Another Czech-Slovak, Zuzana Talpová, will sing chansons. Jozef and Dodo Ivaška from Austria will import the pop music genre. The ballet master Tomas Schramek, a former soloist at the Slovak Folk Art Collective (SĽUK), will come from Toronto, Canada.


photo: Courtesy of the festival

"Traditional culture is most alive in the surrounding countries, primarily in Serbia and Montenegro, where it can be said that almost every Slovak village has its folk ensemble or group. And each year Serbia holds a contest for these ensembles," said Prívarová.

She added that many ensembles could be found in Romania, Croatia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Slovak folk traditions also survive in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, and the USA. A few are also in Australia.

"Interestingly, Brazil and Argentina also have groups that promote Slovak folklore, though their members are non-Slovaks," she said.

The Gala programmes in Bratislava and Nitra start at 19:00 on July 4 and 5 respectively (Aréna Theatre at Viedenská cesta 10, Bratislava; and Andrej Bagar Theatre at Svätoplukovo Square 4, Nitra). For more information contact the General Secretary for Slovak Expatriates at the Government Office of the Slovak Republic, Námestie slobody 1, Bratislava. Tel: 02/5249-5088, or 5249-6914.

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