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Folk ensemble Šarišan is an artistic body of the Park Kultúry a Oddychu (The Center for performing Arts) in Prešov. In May of 1997 they celebrated their 30th anniversary.

How was the road of the ensemble, originally from a town of Veľky Šariš, in 1967, to the top of the Slovak folk ensembles?

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Two generations of young people were have changed places in musical, dance and singing sections of the ensemble. Currently more than 60 young people perform, dance, and sing in the ensemble. They are mostly students of secondary schools and universities. They give yearly over 70 performances in Slovakia and abroad in all-ensemble performances, competitions, festivals, and charity events, all of them with full devotion to provide the audience with the maximum enjoyment of their skills.

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We don't really have to present statistics, as you can't insert the love of songs, happiness from dancing into a dry numbers? How much ovation and good times from performances can you carve into a table of statistics? The members of Sarisan always evenly split their love of folk traditions of Slovakia, exceptionally the folklore of their birthplace Saris. Proof of that are repeated invitations to perform at home and abroad.

The professional management of the body, the enthusiasm of amateur dancers, singers, and musicians as well as a new prospective generation of children's folk-art band Sarisancek, is the best guarantee of the Sarisan's promising future.

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It has always been the area of dramaturgy, successful experimental choreography and making use of a wide range of non-traditional folk musical instruments that the ensemble has excelled in since its very beginnings. The audience always appreciates humorous and very sophisticated rendering of dancing, musical, and singing numbers. The originality of treatment of original folklore as well as outstanding technique of its interpreters greatly attracts folk art experts.

Not only has the body won a great number of prizes and leaderships at most prestigious festivals at home, but also during its 30 years of production, it has achieved a tremendous success in a strong competition at folk art festivals abroad. It has taken part in 61 different festivals and artistic events. The audiences in 22 states of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America have applauded the ensemble. Last year it was in France, Malaysia, and Singapore. This year in summer, providing they will get sponsorship a trip to Brazil is planned.

Sarisan is a frequent guest of radio and TV studios. The folk music recordings of the ensemble belong to the folk-music treasury of the Slovak Radio. The musical background has enabled the body to release 27 solo titles that are carried on various music media, 11 of which have been profile albums. Their work has also been presented on a videotape "Vitaj, Zivot" (Welcome, life), recorded in the very attractive surroundings of an open-air folk museum of folk architecture-Skanzen in Bardejov's Spa. Videotaping of their latest premiere program is scheduled at the same location in early June.

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In the 30th year anniversary premiere program the ensemble is drawing inspiration from the richness of folk traditions of the eastern Slovakia’s regions: Saris, Zemplin, Spis and Gemer. The ensemble in performing of these traditional songs and dances is bringing the folk art of these regions to the whole country.

They aren't forgetting people that have left their mark in the ensemble. Choreographers who designed and realized the famous dances, the top soloist dancers and singers, they didn’t forget their managers over the years either. During the preparations of the new program they are all remembered more often. One of the reasons is also for the young generation of ensemble to know their roots. You can't stop the time. The life around us is gaining in speed and the Sarisan is using this year's premiere performance as an occasion to show the work of today's performers in different sections of the ensemble.

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The time of preparation for premiere is very difficult. The work of ensemble and expectations are at its highest level, as they all know that the audience at the premiere show is more tuned in and more critical. Thankful and pleasant are only the family members of the ensemble members, who are watching the performance of their son or daughter on stage with pride.

It is difficult to be thankful to all, but that also is a part of the premiere atmosphere.

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The main idea of the premiere program: "Ja Chlapec Vandrovni…" (I am a wandering boy…) is the tinker’s profession as a real Slovak phenomenon. The creators of the program have used the motive of tinker and his wandering through the counties as the uniting element for presentation of the diversity of eastern Slovakia's folk art.

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There are definite parallels in the existence of Sarisan and the tinkers as the folk ensemble is a carrier and propagator of tradition of it’s own culture, confronting it's own creations with folk traditions of other nations. If the wandering of the ensemble after their audience is reminding us the wandering of tinkers, the similarity doesn’t have to be accidental. Perceptive onlooker will be able to conclude additional outcome of presented anthology.

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The premiere is created from new choreographies and songs. It is being prepared under much more harsh and difficult conditions as they used to be in the old days with the support of the state. In these days to keep together over 60 members as a life capable and productive amateur ensemble is work for Sizyphos. As the ensemble is successful the word of thanks are being extended to all those that are leading and forming Sarisan. Admiration belongs to members that are giving up their free time for the ensemble. Thanks of the folk ensemble Sarisan belongs to all supporters, for their support of folklore and the most to all the sponsors that are extending their help with financial support, thus assuring the existence and activities of ensemble.

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First time I have seen Sarisan was at the folk festival in Vychodna in 1987 and I am their admirer ever since. The presentation of their program has fascinated me greatly. Since then I have seen them performing at many folk festivals. Last time it was at Vschodna 1996 and later on in a tiny village Okruzna, near Presov, where my friend and a member of Sarisan ensemble Jaroslav Biros (alias Bohumile Onasise) resides. I met him first time at Straznice festival (Czech Republic) in 1994, at a very difficult time for him as a dancer in another Presov's folk ensemble. We spent the whole Straznice festival practically together and met many interesting folklorists. Later on in the summer we met at Vychodna and Detva and we are good friends since then. In September of 1994 he has joined Sarisan.

Many performances of Sarisan at the different folk festivals are captured on two hour color video tape: 


I wish Sarisan folk ensemble many years of continuous success at home and abroad bringing the folklore of eastern Slovakia to the public everywhere.

These days the folk ensembles as Sarisan couldn't exist without financial support of various companies. Sarisan wishes to thank the following sponsors for their generous contributions:

VSZ a.s. KOSICE, largest iron works of Slovakia

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Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 5, No.2, Summer 1997
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1997 
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.