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Young Slovak Roma perform in Brussels

INTERNATIONAL Roma Day inspired a performance in Brussels on April 8 by 15 young, talented residents of the village of Moldava nad Bodvou in Slovakia who are amateur musicians with Slumdog Theatre (Divadlo z chatrče), along with singer Ida Kelarová and her band. Their performance was staged as part of an international conference called From Segregation to Integration: the Role of Culture in Roma Inclusion, the TASR newswire wrote.

INTERNATIONAL Roma Day inspired a performance in Brussels on April 8 by 15 young, talented residents of the village of Moldava nad Bodvou in Slovakia who are amateur musicians with Slumdog Theatre (Divadlo z chatrče), along with singer Ida Kelarová and her band. Their performance was staged as part of an international conference called From Segregation to Integration: the Role of Culture in Roma Inclusion, the TASR newswire wrote.

April 8 marked exactly 41 years to the day since the first World Roma Congress was held in Orpington near London and since then the day has been known worldwide as International Roma Day.

“Generation Y goes behind the scenes with a group of young Roma artists from Slovakia at a concert in Brussels, the first time they had played outside their own country. It was organised by the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation with the support of the European Commission,” wrote the www.euronews.com website.

Marianne Poncelet, the vice-president of the foundation, commented that “the fact that the children came from the Roma ghetto of Moldava nad Bodvou with the ‘artist ambassadors’ of the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, along with Ida Kelarová and her Roma musicians, was very powerful for the children because they had the opportunity to discover other cultures around the world. At one point they learned the Brazilian samba, something they never would have done if we had not introduced them to it”.

Poncelet further explained the role of the foundation. “We try to support collective creation through the arts, something that can change reality and give hope. When we work on ourselves and find strength in ourselves, we find the resilience to get out of a difficult situation – I think that is possible through arts.”

Singer Ida Kelarová has been promoting better integration of Roma children through music and has created an association in the Czech Republic that teaches music to children as a way of escaping poverty. Poncelet added that “work is being done to change the very negative stereotypes of Roma” but noted that it is not enough. “Governments from all the EU states should include classes on Roma culture in the curriculum for children in primary school. That would change everything. People would no longer be afraid of Roma people – they would appreciate them and love them.”

The ETP Slovensko organisation coordinated the project in Slovakia. Slávka Mačáková of ETP told TASR that Slumdog Theatre also gave a performance at a workshop on Strategy of Roma Inclusion organised by the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the European Union.

In July the children from Moldava nad Bodvou will take part in workshops on video production and learn about the Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira with artists from different countries, according to the euronews website.

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