THE 59th year of the biggest and oldest Slovak folklore festival, in Východná, culminated in the gala event called Robbed Loot (in Jánošík’s Money-bag). The three-day festival, which took place in early July, commemorated the 300th anniversary of the death of legendary Slovak bandit and national hero Juraj Jánošík.
“The name of the gala-show was not incidental,” the programme’s director, Miroslava Palanová, told the TASR newswire. “It was the collection of the best of what we managed to ‘rob’ into Jánošík’s bag from the vast and diverse programme of the whole festival.” She added that the crème de la crème of the Slovak folklore performers gathered on the main stage for the gala-programme – which commemorated not only Jánošík, but also the pioneer of folklore choreography, Juraj Kubánka, and the oldest surviving local folklore ensemble, Kriváň.
In keeping with tradition, the host troupe, Kriváň, had the honour of opening the festival by performing in the streets of Východná, luring audiences to the festival events. “We are the oldest ensemble of this kind in Slovakia,” long-time Kriváň member Zuzana Žiaková told TASR. “We are happy to lead each year a huge group of folklore art lovers along the main street to the amphitheatre, and thus open the festival. For the next hundred years, we wish that new generations learn to love this genre as much as we do, and that they continue the ancient traditions of our ancestors.”
Palanová concluded that the numerous performing troupes, as well as the large audiences, confirmed that folklore is not dying, and that, quite to the contrary, ever more young people devote themselves enthusiastically to folklore. Ironically, this is true in spite – or maybe because – of the declining financial support. “People inherently need to return to their roots and traditions,” she added.