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Volume 15, No. 1, Spring 2007

Slovak Heritage Live

A quarterly newsletter published by Vladimir Linder

Spring issue was published in January 2007 and it was mailed to 1200 recipients world wide. 


This is our 15th anniversary issue and the Spring 2007 is here. Only three more years to Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic games. Construction on all major projects has started and Vancouver looks like one huge building site. Traffic delays, diversions are everywhere. But I guess we have to suffer through it and the bright future is guaranteed.

We had a great progress on our web pages. had 3.025097 hits and 174785 visitors and that is an increase of 16% over 2005
had 630411 hits and 14711 visitors and that is an increase of 256.19% over 2005 had 126646 hits and visitors and that is an increase of 208.76%% over 2005

All together my three sites had 3.782154 hits and that is 25.49% increase over 2005 of 2.685261 hits and 183792 visitors and that is an increase of 16.579 % over 2005 of 157654 visitors.

US$ Donatios for 2006: BERISH Paul, Kingston, NY, $ 100.00; CUNNINGHAM Esther Fojt, Grand Prairie, TX, $ 10.00; BELANSKY Evelyn, Buttler, PA,  $ 20.00,; HORECKY, Bob, Aurora CO, $ 25.00; PAFKO Donald, Bloomington, MN, $ 25.00; KOSLAK Patricia, 93 SW Main St., Douglas, MA,$ 10.00. TOTAL USA donations $ 190.00. CANADIAN donations for 2006: DUNAY John, Tilley, Alberta, $ 21.00. Many thanks to all donors for their generous donations.

I would like to ask you once again as usual in almost every issue to see your expiry date on your address label and if you are behind with your subscription, please send in the overdue amounts, as you well know I am financing the newsletter from my own resources and need every penny you can spare. No donations above your subscription amount will be refused doesn’t matter how large they may be. By the way the postage in USA and CANADA has increased substantially again. Remember that you will receive a free one-year subscription to Slovak Heritage Live on any order over US$100.00 and two free video tapes on becoming a Slovak Heritage circle subscriber by donating US$150.00. You can now also order from a large selection of 34 folklore DVD titles from Linder Video Productions.


Dear Vladimir,
I took the DVDs of this year’s Festival at Liptovská Teplička back to Pennsylvania to watch with my parents. My father and I spent two wonderful afternoons watching them and commenting. For him, it brought back memories of when he was a boy, watching his father and the other men dancing at weddings, and watching the women gather in a line and sing. A lot of the things are exactly as he remembers. He could even remember and point out the differences between what the immigrants themselves did, versus the first-generation who grew up in America. The best thing was he remembers when his father was trying a dance and lost his balance and fell over. He got up and announced to the crowd: “That’s it, if I can’t do that anymore; I am no longer a young man.”

The most fun was imagining that this was two or three centuries ago, when this would be the only entertainment. It puzzled us for a while why one group of men were wearing what looked like belts slung down around the backs of the legs, when something like that would make it harder to do certain dance steps. Then we realized-it was supposed to draw your eyes to their butts to better show them off! That’s when we started studying the different costumes, to see how they were designed to show off or hide parts of the body (high aprons or colored bands to show off the breasts, tight boots to show off the legs in younger women; colors around the middle or on the arms to draw attention away from the middle-age spread on older women; etc.). And how they stood at times, both men and women, how they’d be showing off their chest or shoulders or bosoms or legs to attract a mate. It was hilarious and at the same time very educational.

It was also great to watch my son-adopted from Russia-respond to the music and movements. This is a kid who will run from the room when my wife puts in a video of Irish folk dancing, but loves the Slavic rhythms and colors! (He’s also into polkas just as much as rock n’ roll!)

Not the kind of memories I expected to make by watching these videos. Quite a bonus! Thanks!

Paul M. Paulochik
501 South Sevenhills

O'Fallon  IL  62269  USA

Dear Friend,
I have obviously overlooked renewing our subscription. We enjoy immensely reading your quarterly newsletter. At this time, I am missing the Fall and Winter 2006 issues. Please find my renewal enclosed, keeping my renewal date continuous and sending my back issues.
My own heritage seems from Czech-Moravian Highlands, however, my wife’s heritage stems from the county of Šariš and the village- Mestisko is mentioned from her relatives.

Thank you,

Tom and Bernadine (Matas) Wanek

I left Vancouver on October 22, with over two hour departure delay, as the plane was late leaving London, arrived and late and departed late to London. I knew in Vancouver that I will miss my connecting flight to Vienna as soon as I seen my boarding pass. Maria was still waiting as usual to see if everything was fine at the check in counter and I asked her to call Milan in Slovakia with my new arrival time. I flew BRITISH AIRWAYS again as the price was right and on top of it British Airways is the only airline that I know off that still allows overseas luggage to and from North America to be 32 Kg or 70 pounds and that is great. This is also on top of the great service they provide. The food is always good, drinks are plentiful and the entertainment music and videos are non stop, not as the other airlines that give you a choice of two movies. Funny, it doesn’t matter to me as I usually fall asleep soon after take of and I don’t remember one movie that I watched from beginning to the end. Mostly I seen all beginnings and some end scenes but very rarely the whole movie. I had a three hour wait at Heathrow airport and arrived in Vienna after 9:30 PM. Vienna’s Swechatt airport is relatively small airport among world’s busy airports, but that will soon change and there is a huge expansion on the way currently for couple of years now. Most of the time the plane isn’t parked at the terminal and you are bussed to the customs passport control and then you walk short distance to the luggage hall. I found one of my huge SAMSONITE oyster shell suitcases almost right away on the carousel, so I thought that is great, as seeing a piece of luggage on the carousel from London is many times a great surprise as they misplace lot of luggage in London. My second suitcase didn’t arrive. I started to believe that after the unclaimed suitcases passed by me several times, while waiting for my second one. So I gave up and went to the misplaced luggage counter and joined a huge lineup. I didn’t really know where I will be staying in Bratislava so I gave them my old address with instructions to call me prior to arrival in Bratislava as I have a car and can meet the driver on his way in some shopping mall. I was assured that the suitcase will be on the next plane early morning and that by 10 AM I will have my suitcase in Bratislava. As late as I was, I finally went out of the airport and was greeted by my friends MILAN ŠTEFÁNIK and his wife NÓRIKA. Soon we were at their place in Dúbravka, part of Bratislava. They have a lovely apartment and since their two daughters are grown up they are what we call here empty nesters and they had a room for me. We talked into the late night, and then I was working on my stuff and organizing things and went to bed with sleeping pills. I had a good night sleep and woke up at 6 AM...

by Gene Lubas

“You have to kiss the icon when you enter the church,” Mother reminded us while blessing herself, tears welling up in her eyes upon entering this little countryside gem. It was July 6, 2006, and having traveled nearly two hours from Košice, my mother Anna, my partner Jerry and I were comforted to be inside the silvery tin-roofed Greek Catholic Church of Sv. Mikhail (St. Michael) in the village of Rokytov. With our friend, Immy Semniak, who lives in Košice, we had driven to this nostalgic place, officially known in Slovak as “Rokytov pri Humennom” (in Rusyn, Rokytiv kolo Humennoho; in English, Rokytov near Humenne), located in the far northeast corner of Slovakia. 
Moments later, while five little children belonging to St. Michael’s pastor scurried under our feet, we walked a few dusty steps beyond the church yard to seek the ancestral home of my mother’s mother, Anastasia Bednar, nee Nastia Štefková.
Finding this hallowed dwelling was the goal of our journey-a lifelong dream to bring my mother, Anna Bednar Lubas, to her ancestral home. Number 41 in Rokytov is the house where my Baba was born and raised in the Rusyn and Greek Catholic traditions of eastern Slovakia. The house most recently belonged to Mikhail Štefko, brother of my grandmother, and after his passing, to his sons Mikhail and Jan.
On a cold February morning in 1890, Nastia Štefková came into this world in that single-story white stucco house. In 1909, she left her beloved Rusyn village to find a better life in America, traveling through what was then Austria Hungary (Czechoslovakia) to Germany, where she would board a large ocean liner to carry her and others who shared her dream to the “New World.” After days on this crowded vessel, she arrived at Ellis Island in New York harbor, endured the tedious process of immigration scrutiny, and was finally released, under the given name, Anastasia Stefko to search for members of her family who had come before her and settled in a far-away place called McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.
It was there in McKees Rocks, shortly after her arrival, that Anastasia Stefko met Joseph Bednar (originally from the Rusyn village of Lukov near Bardejov in the Šariš district of Slovakia). She soon found employment in a cigar factory, and two weeks later became Mrs. Joseph Bednar in a union which was blessed at the newly-formed Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church.
Although “Nastia” kept in touch with her brother Mikhail in Europe through letter-writing, she never returned to Rokytov. Likewise, neither her brother Ivan (John), who immigrated to McKees Rocks before her, nor Nastia’s children nor grandchildren had ever gone back to Rokytov.
It wasn’t until seventy-six years later, in 1985, that I was fortunate enough to study with choreographers from the folklore group, Lúčnica and perform at the Detva Festival in central Slovakia. I had been the first of Nastia Štefková’s descendants in two generations to return to the “old country.”
Czechoslovakia at that time was under communist rule and still one country, so getting around and not speaking the language fluently was difficult for this fresh-out-of-college American. Fortunately, I traveled with a translator from Detva who was kind enough to take me to that far northeast corner of Slovakia. 
During my 1985 visit, I had brought gifts from my Baba for Uncle Mikhail, his wife Anna and their family. A story that I’ll never forget is my uncle’s reaction when he opened his gift-a crisp, brand-new white shirt. Upon receiving the present, he proudly told the translator that when he died, he wished to be “put into the earth in this beautiful white shirt.” 
My mother and family had also packed many trinkets for me to present to their European relatives. Delighted with the unexpected gifts, these down-to-earth folk wished to return the favor. So, in a short second, Aunt Anna bustled out the front door, climbed a sturdy homemade ladder, and, reaching onto the porch roof of the little white stucco house where hens nested, returned with an apron full of brown eggs and a bag of mak (poppy seeds). Certainly, I couldn’t carry the eggs back to America, but the contents of that precious bag, presented to my Baba upon my return, made for some delicious poppy seed rolls back in McKees Rocks.
Each wonderful memory of this 1985 life event was an important one that I have always cherished and always wished that my mother could experience as well. We had talked many times about traveling there together to see where Baba was born, lived, and went to church. Jerry and I were determined to take Mother to visit the house where Baba lived with her family until 1909. This summer it finally happened. 
After flying to Vienna, and meeting our generous friend, Vlado Linder in Bratislava, we flew to Košice to meet Immy Seminak and his lovely wife Adriana. We then made the pilgrimage to the edge of our destination, greeted by a green road sign bearing the village name of Rokytov in both Slovak and Rusyn languages. We leisurely strolled the quiet streets of the tiny farming village where Nastia and her friends played at the turn of the 20th century. We arrived at Sv. Mikhail, the little church which was built two centuries earlier -the church with a beautiful iconostas where Nastia was baptized and made her First Communion. 
We left the churchyard and slowly walked the street behind Sv. Mikhail’s, making certain that Mother took it all in.
Seconds later, Mother stopped suddenly and stared straight ahead in disbelief. “This is it.” She gazed at the little house before her like it was an epiphany, a surreal moment-something which in all your life you have seen only in your mind’s eye, and now incredibly come to meet face-to-face. Here-in this abode a world away-is where we began. 
One of six children born to Joseph and Anastasia Bednar, my mother Anna was born in 1924 and grew up speaking the Rusyn language, honoring the culture and religion of her parents. She did not speak English until she started the first grade. She was visibly speechless now, at the sight of her mother’s birthplace.
It appeared that no one was home as we approached the house, to our disappointment; we realized that it was empty. We were then met by a neighbor, Maria Polomčáková, a sweet lady who asked our translator what we were looking for. Mother spoke Rusyn to her, explaining who we were. Maria dolefully replied that Uncle Mikhail, his wife Anna and son, Mikhail had passed away and that no one lived in the house any longer. She informed us that Uncle’s other son, Ján, visits the house several times a year and wishes to eventually sell it. We left our address information for Maria to pass on to Ján, who currently resides in Liberec in the Czech Republic. 
An hour later, we were enjoying lunch, reeling from the Rokytov experience, sharing Šariš beer, pyrohy, halušky, šalát and fried breaded cheese in an old world krčma (tavern) in the main city of Humenné. While driving back to Humenné, our friend and translator Immy related that it sent shivers up his spine to hear Mother speak to the neighbor Maria in Rusyn-a language, he said, that was unique and rarely heard conversationally in mainstream Slovakia.
Mother, looking none the wearier in spite of the long and sentimental day of discovery, spoke again-in English. Her voice cracked with emotion as she expressed her gratitude to Jerry and me for planning this long-awaited journey. Through joyful tears, she told us that never in her 82 years of life did she, Anna Bednar Lubas, think that she would see the place where the matriarch of our family, her dear mother, was born. A blissful grin quickly grew across Mother’s face, awed and delighted that she had finally visited that Rusyn village of white stucco houses amidst sunflower fields and framed by mountains covered with blue flowers-the place where Nastia Štefková Bednár called “home” for the first nineteen years of her life.
Mother, Jerry and I intend to renew and maintain ties with the Štefko family, and are even considering the possibility of purchasing the little house in Rokytov from cousin Ján. Perhaps then, next summer-when we return to visit our friends in Bratislava and Košice-we’ll also stay up north near the Slovak-Ukraine border at our very own “summer cottage” in the quaint and quiet hamlet of Rokytov. 


The academic folk ensemble Zobor at the Slovak Agriculture University in Nitra was founded in 1956 and belongs among the oldest folk ensembles in the Slovak Republic. It comprises folk music band, chorus and dance group.
During its existence, Zobor has performed countless shows in Slovakia and other 20 countries throughout the world, as well. Performances at EXPO 1998 in Lisbon and at EXPO 2000 in Hannover have been of the utmost interesting and notable events within the last period. Zobor participates in various folklore festivals, contests and celebrations all over Slovakia. Every second year it organizes the C.I.O.F.F. International Festival of Academic Folk Ensembles called Academic Nitra, where approximately 900 people from all over the world take part. The repertoire consists of performances from different parts of Slovakia and by means of typical costumes, dances, music and songs represents wide scale of the very Slovak traditional culture.
The academic folklore ensemble Zobor from the Slovak Agriculture University in Nitra was founded in 1956 and belongs to the oldest folklore ensembles in Slovakia. It is created by folklore musicians, girl’s singers group and dance group. The repertory consists of program numbers from different parts of Slovakia and through typical costumes, dances, music and songs represents the wide scale of Slovak traditional culture...


I have been going to Devta’s folklore festival under Poľana from 1987 and enjoying performances of folklore group DETVA since then. I have been to their 30th anniversary gala performance five years ago and liked it a lot. In their 35th anniversary bulletin their director and my friend MILKA SEKEREŠOVÁ wrote:
When they were preparing VI. year of festival under Poľana, Detva didn’t have its own representative in the form of folklore group. On initiative of then director of the house of culture of A. Sládkovič in Detva a folklore group DETVA was established on January 18, 1971.
Its first artistic director and choreographer was VLADIMÍR POLÍVKA. Together with the folklore group a folk music ĎATELINKA was born as well with primáš ONDREJ MOLOTA. These two groups were enhanced by women singing group under leadership of VERONIKA GOLIANOVÁ and soloist instrumentalist JOŽKO RYBÁR. This year we are remembering would be his unlived 100 years. In one year the folklore group created all evening program and the name of Detva’s folklore group started to resonate on prominent domestic folklore festivals or competitions. Successes started to come from aboard as well.
In 1982 Vladimír Polívka passed away, who would be 75 this year. After his sudden departure the group was cooperating with and was lead artistically by VLADIMÍR MALIŠ, JOZEF MAĽA, its former dancers ANNA OSTRIHOŇOVÁ, LUBOMÍR OSTRIHOŇ, JOZEF SMUTNÝ and IMRICH ĽALÍK. From fall of 1992 its director is member EMÍLIA SEKEREŠOVÁ. Essential part of the folklore group was costume keeper and for some time organizing director IRENA POLÍVKOVÁ who created beautiful costume storage for the group, still in use today.
Young musicians started to cooperate with folk music group DETVANČEK in 1985 that became in 1989 good continuators of their role models and with primaš JAROSLAV HAZLINGER, are the music of Detva’s folklore group DETVA.
From 1998 performing together with the folklore group DETVA is folk singing group under leadership of ANNA KLIMOVÁ.
The group presented repertoire portraying the Under Poľana region in almost all countries of Europe and Detva’s bare bellies were also admired in Africa, directly in Algeria. Folklore group DETVA is successful at home and abroad. To their latest honors belong: Laureate of all Slovakia’s contest in creative choreographies, Main prize in the National competition of radio recordings GRAND PRIX of SVETOZÁR STRAČINA folloved by PRIZE OZIS finalist of all Slovakia’s competition of program blocks and creative choreographies. ANNA KLIMOVÁ and PETER BABICA are finalists of all Slovakia’s competition and JÁN MURÍN became vinner of all Slovakia’s competition of instrumentalists.

Today folk music with Primáš Jarko Hazlinger is preparing its musical continuers, dance group is getting younger from 13 year olds members and folk singing group is giving us average of the whole ensemble.

Emília Sekerešová
Director of the Floklore Group Detva...


First time I met Professor Štefan Nosáľ during auditions for Lúčnica in 1965 when I was studying at the Trade Secondary School for Electrical Technology in Bratislava. LÚČNICA was the only amateur Slovak Folk Ensemble that was traveling the world as the showcase of Slovak Folklore. We knew they will be going to Expo 67 World Fair in Montreal and I thought that if I get accepted to become a dancer I would get a free trip to Montreal and I would not return home. You see I newer ever thought in my life that I would be living my adult years in Czechoslovakia. Well, I wasn’t accepted, since I dint know any folk dance elements. I knew only twist, rock and Roll and Jive and similar dancers. So I continued in my studies. In 1967 instead of Montreal I went hitchhiking around Eastern Europe visiting, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. I graduated in 1968 and in 1969 I immigrated to Canada.

Second time I met Professor Nosáľ was in 1986 during Lúčnica’s performances at EXPO 86 in Vancouver, that awaken the love for Slovak culture, heritage and folklore in me, and we stayed friends ever since. You see until that time I didn’t know one folk song; I wasn’t interested in the Slovak culture or heritage.

Professor Nosáľ was born in 1927at a hamlet above village Hriňová near Detva. He spent his childhood years there. He finished high school studies in Banská Bystrica and University studies in Bratislava. He is the Artistic Director of Lúčnica for over 50 years and celebrated his life jubilee 80th birthday in Late January. On his 75 he was granted honorary citizenship of Detva.

He created countless of choreographies for Lúčnica and other folklore ensembles around the world. Someone once wrote about Lúčnica: “The Rolling Stones of Folklore.”

We usually meet by chance in Bratislava and for sure at VÝCHODNÁ and DETVA festivals. In Detva we stay at the Hotel Detva, many times on the same floor. Since I always carry a lot of photographic and video equipment I have a pass at the festivals to the amphitheater grounds and I always drive and therefore I can’t drink, and I become his personal driver and a guard for the night. For instance after the Detva’s Saturday final performance, we stay in the VIP lounge at the amphitheater, then I drive him to the old orphanage, where there is the first party, we stay for a while and then we go to hotel, change our clothes and we go to another party at the Cultural Center. It is a lot of fun.

Professor Nosáľ once said:
“I have spent many years of my life in constant discovering and creating beauty. Not only the one that can be receptive by eyes, but also one that beautifies the spirit. I am happy that many young people in Lúčnica and at the school have helped m. They have filled with this happiness themselves and they had seeded her with handful to our people at home and the people around the world.
I am grateful to you.”

Štefan Nosál.

Dear Professor Nosáľ for your life jubilee 80th birthday I wish you lots of health and happiness and many more years of creative spirit in Lúčnica.

Vladimir Linder.


On the proposal of the trade union it was decided to form a small singing and dancing folk group that had to perform occasionally at various cultural and social events in our town and its surroundings. Young musician‑violinist FRANTIŠEK PRISTAČ was assigned by this task. In summer 1956 he, together with the former SĽUK (the Slovak Folk Art Ensemble)‑dancer JÁN KRATOCHVÍLU, succeeded in forming this group. The first regular rehearsals twice a week under the name, Dance group Jánošík‑began in September 1956. The ensemble gained its name Jánošík according to a famous Slovak outlaw. František Pristač became the first chief executive. At the beginning the group had only one folk costume from the village Važec and that is why they were rehearsing the songs and dances from this region. The first amateur choreographers were JÁN TOMKO, JÁN KRATOCHVÍLU and ALFRÉD BOBULA. The first public performance was on April 26, 1957 in the nearby village Nižná Šuňava. It was a great success.
The first years of the ensemble were very successful. Among the most important successes belonged an invitation to the most famous Slovak folk festival in Východná in 1958, where it took the first place. In this period the ensemble was divided into dancing and singing parts.
In 1962 the ensemble moved to new building of the Cultural house, where it has had its home until today. In 1966 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the ensemble the first foreign trip was organized to the former German Democratic Republic. Other successful trips followed. France, England, the Soviet Union, Austria and Italy. The ensemble also performed several times in the programs of the Slovak television. During this period of the existence of our group a lot of folklore experts and outstanding artists helped to create its importance and high art level: CYRIL ZÁLEŠÁK, JOZEF MAJERČÍK, PAVOL BALŽANKA, JOZEF BUTELA, JÁN PIVOLUSKA and IRENA JANKU‑the famous Slovak folklorists, who created a lot of successful choreographies...




For sample issue of The Slovak Heritage Live Newsletter, please send US$2.00
together with your postal address to:

Vladimir Linder
3804 Yale Street
Burnaby, BC,
Canada, V5C 1P6
Phone/Fax: 1-604-291-8065



[email protected]

Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2006 
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.