President's welcome to 2017!

Here we are again ready for a brand new year! I would like to sincerely thank our 2016 committee!

We say goodbye to our beloved Nataly, and send out a huge thankyou for all of her support. Nataly has been a wealth of knowledge and experience while on our committee and we wish her all the best!  We now say hello and a very warm welcome to our newest committee member, Elena. We know that you will rock as Fundraising Coordinator this year!

The committee and I are already running at full steam!

Our Adult group will be heading down to Dalmatia as we begin work on brand new songs and dances from the Dolina Neretve region.  The adults will be focused on this region and brand new nosnje from Croatia will be heading our way shortly.  These are exciting new developments for Mladi Hrvati and we are looking forward to adding these beautiful songs and dances to our growing folkloric repertoire.

Our Intermediate group of pre-teens is working hard, learning songs and dances from the Zagrebacko Prigorje region which is challenging their skills, but they are loving every minute of it!  These dances are lively and keep them on their toes, while improving their dance skills from week to week.

The Junior group is growing all the time, and not just in height!  Our youngest members who are getting to the ripe old age of 6 or 7 have welcomed some of their younger siblings who have reached the age where they can join in the fun.  They no longer have to sit on the sidelines and watch, but are now taking part in this super cute little group’s dance practice and learning new songs and dances from okolice Zadra.

It is wonderful to see this amazing group of children, parents and adults being part of one of the first Croatian folkloric groups in Melbourne.  This group’s history is long and proud and as we gear up for a very special year next year, it is wonderful to see current adult members who once danced as children, share their love of Croatian folkloric song and dance with their own children.  Two folkloric generations, dancing as one.

Next year we will be celebrating 40 years of Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati, a time of reflection and catching up with old members. Planning and preparations for our 40th anniversary celebrations are already underway, and we look forward to celebrating with all members, past and present! To all those who helped fire up Croatian folkloric dance at Clifton Hill, we thank you and as we have always said and will continue to say for many years to come... Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje!

Suzy Horvat - President - Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati – Clifton Hill

 

Through the eyes of a teacher - Antun

Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje… These words have been etched into my mind ever since I first came to Mladi Hrvati back in 1991.

My journey with Croatian folkloric dancing first began when I was seven years old, with the dance group ‘Ljerica-Footscray’ back in 1988.  When this group disbanded I moved around to other dance groups within Melbourne until I finally found my home with Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati in Clifton Hill.

I was taught by Mladi Hrvati founders, Mr Alex and Mrs Gizela Kechenovich, and progressed through the ranks of the Junior Group, the Intermediate Group and then finally to the Big Group, as it was then named.  I began to assist Mr and Mrs Kechenovich in teaching the Junior Group for a period of time.  Not long after this, they announced their plan to retire from dancing after 20 years of dedicated work, and in 1998, I took over as the primary dance teacher for all three groups for some time.

During this time, I was fortunate enough to attend two seasons of professional Croatian dance instruction in Croatia under the guidance of Dr. Ivan Ivancan, and his professional counterparts under the umbrella of ‘Hrvatska Matica Iseljenika’ (Croatian Heritage Foundation). 

As a teacher there is nothing more I love to see than the enjoyment and satisfaction from students and their parents straight after a great performance.  The kids are on such a high and are so proud of themselves and what they are capable of when they work together.  This is all I need to validate why I choose to keep the tradition of folklore going and it definitely makes all of the hard work and long hours worthwhile.

What also inspires me is the many people in the background that go to extraordinary efforts to make things happen for our group.   This is especially apparent when you see the group prospering like never before.  That is why there is such a strong sense of family within the Mladi Hrvati community – we know that we can all count on one another.

More recently, I have taken up tamburica playing and am now a part of the Mladi Hrvati Tamburica Orchestra, and I must say, as much as I love to teach, it comes as a great change to be able to take a step back and sit in the ‘student’ chair again.

 I can only hope that my contributions to Mladi Hrvati play a part in ensuring that our heritage, custom, culture and language can be passed on to future generations of Australian-Croatians through Croatian folklore.

And those same words come to mind again.. Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje!

I love being a part of Mladi Hrvati - a message from one of our dancers

A message from Jessica - a performer in the Intermediate group.

 

I first started with Mladi Hrvati when I was seven years old and have been dancing for seven years now. I love being a part of Mladi Hrvati because I like to learn about my Croatian culture and I love to learn new dances. I have made some great friends in my group and I love seeing them at dance practice each week. It's a great way to catch up with other friends who are the same age as me and share the same cultural background.

My teacher Antun Rehlicki is also my Godfather. Antun is always there to figure out any problems that we have and is always helping us improve our footwork so that we can get our dance moves to be smooth and spot on. And ... when we are not listening Antun makes sure we stay focused - he also keeps the parents focused if they are being too noisy and disruptive while they are watching us, that can be pretty funny sometimes. He's a great teacher and mentor. I'm extra lucky to have him in my life as my god-father as well as my dance teacher! 

My favourite dance that I have learnt so far is 'Srdim se, Dušo' which is part of the new Bunjevačko choreography that we are learning. I like this dance because I think it's interesting to learn how girls used to dance with their male dance partners in old times, and it's also a really pretty dance!

One of my most special memories is from the Annual Croatian Cultural festival, at the Hrvatski Dom in February this year. It was really great to perform in front of such a large crowd that included my family and friends.  Before a performance I usually feel really nervous just as we are about to get on stage, but when I'm up there I feel great and I know that I'll be okay because I have my friends next to me and my family in the audience supporting me. When the music starts I feel even more at ease because I know the dance and we all just have a good time together. We do a big group cheer when we're back in the room changing back into our regular clothes because we know that even if we got a step wrong here or there, we did a great job and we did it together as a team. 

I'm looking forward to moving into the Adult group one day because I will get to learn new dances and I'll be able to learn from experienced members who have been dancing for years. And, it means I'll be all grown up and maybe I can start bossing Antun around a little. 

Jessica, aged 14

Welcome to 2016!

Welcome to 2016! 

Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati welcomes its returning members and their families and to all our new members, Dobrodošli!

It's a very exciting time for Mladi Hrvati as there are so many new things happening at MH headquarters. 

Our Tamburica classes with Mr. Igor (Gigo) Milić have commenced for children and adults, beginners and experienced players who are interested in a refresher.  We are kicking off our year with our annual picnic at Fairfield Park on Sunday 14th February - bring your loved ones along to the place where we love to go! Bring your Boće and picnic blankets for a fun day for the whole family! Our committee is raring to go and will be cooking up a storm so you won't need to cook and all at great prices!

Our junior dancers have a performance in late February at the Footscray Dom Annual Croatian Cultural Festival where we will also be having a stall selling hot dogs and hot chips, all well known Croatian favourites! Be sure to roster yourselves on for a little while at the stall - any help will much appreciated. 

There are new nošnje being stitched together as you read this and new choreographies and dances being formulated by our talented dance teachers.  Movie nights and kids discos, and few Zabave in the mix and who knows what else there is, so welcome one and all to 2016! 

"Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje"

Suzy Horvat
President
Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati

2015 highlights of Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati

Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati has played a pivotal role in my own youth and teenage years.  I spent 11 years with this group, and now, as a mother I hope that my own young pre-teens and teens will be as fortunate as I was, to enjoy being part of their long and proud Croatian heritage.

As a long time member, and President of Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati since early this year, I have seen how far this group has come in the last 18 months. 

Through everything we do, we have tried to recapture traditions that were a part of our youth and share this with the local Croatian community as well as the wider community. 

Many years ago Clifton Hill would host huge picnics at Fairfield Park, this year we began our year with a picnic at the very same spot where we once played as children, and now our children were able to experience this. We were overjoyed that around 100 people came to relive, the laughter, music, bocce and joy of those wonderful days and create new memories.

The Footscray Food and Wine Festival allowed our youngest children to perform dances from Prigorje in all their cuteness and our adults gave audiences a sample of our beautiful homeland in a Nošnja Parade, showcasing many regions of Croatia through nošnje associated with those regions.  A walk through parade around the main seating area was greeted with astounding applause from audiences.

Our youngsters have also performed at other special events including the opening of the new Strathmore Split clubhouse and most recently at the NSW Croatian Children’s Folkloric Festival.

The highlight of this year would have to be our first Mladi Hrvati Zabava, titled 'Spring Zabava', where all members were able to participate and showcase what they had learnt this year.  Our youngest performers brought back memories of games, songs and toys which their grandparents would have played with as children and the audience loved it!  Our Middle group has matured so much over the last year and gave a perfect performance of Slavonske dances and songs singing their little hearts out.

The adults had only taken up singing over the last few months and gave the audiences a pleasant surprise of a beautiful welcome song for the evening titled 'Dobar Večer, Dobri Ljudi'.  We performed a beautiful collection of Bunjevačke dances and songs by all the adults which had an enormous reaction from the packed out audience.  They commented at how wonderfully planned and decorated the evening was and how they hadn’t seen such a vesela (happy) zabava for a long time. We were proud to perform and to give back a little of our appreciation, gratitude and love for our long time supporters, especially our original teachers Gospodin Aleksa and Gospođa Gizela Kechenovich.

Mladi Hrvati also welcomed and hosted the very talented group 'Klapa Samoana' from New Zealand to perform at Dalmatino restaurant for a 'Klapska Večer'  An impressive and hugely successful evening, this performance cemented the connection between Mladi Hrvati and Klapa Samoana and we look forward to their upcoming tour in 2016.

The year is almost at its end and considering that the current committee has only been active since late March, the time has been jam packed and very busy.  It takes an extremely dedicated team to put everything together and we have been fortunate to have such a hard working and enthusiastic committee.  I would like to thank each and every one of them for their time, commitment and energy in making Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati a group where we take pride in our heritage and are always willing to go the extra mile. Thank you also to the parents who make an effort every week to bring their children to proba (dance practice) and the many events we’ve performed at.

Puno Vam Hvala!
“Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje”

Suzy Horvat
President
Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati