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Was the title for the 10th anniversary performance of the folk dance group Hronka from Banska Bystrica held on December 3, 1994, in the State Opera Theater of Jozef Gregor Tajovsky. The music was provided by guest appearance of the folk music Valaska under the leadership of my friend primas Adriana Valaskova.

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After opening remarks by well-known radio personality Mr. Stefan Turna, whom I met many years ago for the first time at the folk festivals in Vychodna and Detva, the long awaited and well rehearsed program started. I have mentioned in the Fall 1994 issue that I sang six songs at Detva's festival in summer of 1994 with Valaska folk music. Some of them I have discovered in my record collection here in Burnaby and they are not very well known and sung in Slovakia. They were also unknown to the musicians of Valaska. I was surprised and pleased to hear my favorite song from Cierny Balog "Vychodi slniecko spoza hory-The sun is rising from behind the mountain" at the start of the performance together with others that I sang at Detva.

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The main emphasis of Hronka is folklore of the Hron region, that are the villages around the river Hron from Telgart to Hronsky Benadik and they also know and did perform songs and dances from Zemplin, Saris, Spis, Liptov and Detva.

The theater was packed to the last seat, the performance was flawless and they had to repeat the final dance three times as the audience didn't want to let them go. This program was sponsored by many private companies and without their generous help this performance wouldn't be possible. In about a middle through the program Valaska played an instrumental song that sounded so beautiful it has given me shivers, as I usually get when I hear Lucka Stasikova from Vitaz beautiful voice and tears have come to my eyes for this was such a beauty as I never heard before. I had no clue where it was from, one thing I knew I never heard it before. So immediately after the performance I asked my friend Adriana about the song. I was right, I had never heard it before, and it was a song from wedding celebrations in the village of Liptovska Kokava, near Liptovsky Hradok and the skanzen in Pribylina where Adriana was doing last year academic research of the wedding traditions of the village for her University final exams. The name of the song is: "Pod oblockom piskaju-They are whistling under the window." I also got the tape of her research and I listen to it quite often. I have made video of the Hronka's performance and I also taped it and I always play this song over and over again. It's funny to fell in love with a song you her first time, but it happened.

Following the successful performance, the members of Hronka and invited guests went to a restaurant-disco club near by for dinner, celebration and some dancing.

There were two rooms to dance. One played disco and in the other room there was a live folk music band. The most amazing scene was that all the dancers moved from one room to the other adjoining room when the disco stopped and the folk music started and vice versa. It proved that these young people loved both the folk and the disco and were able to enjoy them. At first when the disco played I taught they will not folk dance at all as all of them seem to enjoy the disco and rap so much. I was happy that I was wrong.

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Soon I went to see the artistic director and choreographer of Hronka, Dr.Milan Duris CSc. and asked him few questions and this were his answers:

"Our folk dance and singing ensemble Hronka has 45 active members including the musicians and this year we are celebrating our tenth anniversary. We usually perform in Banska Bystrica and we have performed many times at Horehronsky Folk Festival in Helpa and in many other cities of middle Slovakia's region, then in numerous health spas for local and foreign patients. In August 1994 we absolved a tourney through the northern Italy in the province De Como where we were performing in nine different cities with just as many performances. Members of our group include students, laborers, engineers, teachers and many other walks of life. Our activities aren't supported by the government, but by private sponsors and through their generosity we can exist as a folk dance ensemble. The tax laws have changed recently and the private companies are able to give money to different groups providing their products are advertised in the brochures, banners, etc., and are able to write off these funds as advertising expenses.

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Situation and activities and existence of our and many other folk dance ensembles in Slovakia is currently very difficult and everything falls on insufficient basic funds. There are lots of people of all ages interested in folklore despite that Banska Bystrica itself has many folk ensembles in town and surrounding areas.

My self I should be only artistic director and choreographer. Besides that I am also acting manager and organization manager, I take care of folk costumes in one word I do it all. This is really very complicated and time consuming and it requires lot of sacrifices and most of all understanding of my wife. My wife is outstanding, because I feel if I did this being married to another woman I am sure I would have received walking papers long ago. I do it all from the love of Slovak folklore and I can say that I am slowly becoming a fanatic and it is like drug, I can't live without."

The party continued till the early hours of the morning. It was somewhat disturbed and saddened by vandalism of numerous cars belonging to the folk musicians on the parking lot, resulting in the loss of audio equipment and numerous other items. Luckily my car, since it looked so bad and there wasn’t anything visible on the seats, was spared. The mood wasn't the same after this disturbance. Being really late, tired and another 20 miles of driving through the mountains in front of us to hotel Jelenec at Stare Hory on the way to Donovaly made us leave. It was terribly cold. I haven't been drinking at all evening for fear of being caught by the police so upon the arrival at the hotel I had few shots of really good Czech herbal liquor called "Becherovka," naturally cooled in the trunk of my borrowed Lada, Russian made car.

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Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 3, No. 1, Spring 1995
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1995 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.