Through the eyes of a teacher - The Juka Sister in Laws

Both of us have grown up with Croatian folklore playing a huge part in our lives. As time passed, life and other adventures took over, marriage and children took a priority, and folklore was put on hold, but the love and appreciation for our culture and arts always remained.

Once you have experienced Croatian folkloric dancing, it never quite leaves you. We found ourselves back in the folklore community as mothers of young children after Sandra was contacted by Mladi Hrvati founder, Mrs Gizela Kechenovich to help her re-establish the group after it had broken down several years earlier. Mrs Kechenovich was determined to see the group restored to its former glory when her and husband, Aleks were teaching.

We wear several different hats within our group, as many of our other committee members do. In addition to our committee responsibilities, we make up part of the teaching and choreography team here at Mladi Hrvati. We took this responsibility on with full gusto, with a new direction and ideas ready to go.

One of the most important things to us as teachers and choreographers is to make sure that we are continually challenging and stimulating our members, as well as our audiences. When we create our choreographies, we look at it from both a dancer and audience perspective, making sure that it is both aurally and visually interesting and dynamic, whilst at the same time, making sure that we are paying respect to the style, music and footwork of each region. This process is challenging, exciting and rewarding, and we have established some great relationships when seeking out advice from other groups, choreographers and composers along the way.

Over the last five years, we have introduced four new regions of dance to the group, which includes new music, choreographies and new complete nosnja sets. The nosnje, oh my! That is another blog post in itself - shout out to our nosnja team! We often ask ourselves if we are crazy to be taking on so much new repertoire in such a short space of time, but we believe this is the only way forward for our group. Our members love to learn, and they love to be challenged, and Croatia’s folkloric culture is so diverse, we have only just scratched the surface! How can we not continue to bring new dances and music to our community here in Australia? It’s especially nice to see that look of excitement on an audience member’s face when they realise that the group will be performing songs and dances from their region that they may not have seen before.

It can be challenging as teachers to have your own children as part of a group that you are teaching, because you need to completely remove your ‘mother’ hat and have them look at and listen to you strictly as their teacher; but these kids are our greatest motivator in doing all of this. Through their connection to folklore, they have found their place within our Croatian community, and they feel a sense of belonging. We are fortunate enough to be able to witness the beginnings of some long lasting friendships, and we can only hope that these children too learn to love and appreciate their culture and community enough to keep our traditions going for the generation to follow. After all, na mladima svijet ostaje!

President's welcome to F.G Mladi Hrvati's 40th year celebrations!

Welcome to 2018, our 40th year!  We are so proud to have reached this incredible milestone in representing Croatian folkloric traditions in Melbourne, Australia! 


It is our proud duty and responsibility to work hard at these traditions and maintaining these time honoured dances and songs for future generations. 


As we head into this year of celebrations, those of us who have shared our younger years at Mladi Hrvati begin to reminisce about our youth and how it was back in the day.  The memorable performances, the trips and events, the friends we made and our dear teachers Gospodin Aleksa and Gospođa Gizela Kechenovich who we remember, and they must remember so much more! 


This year we extend a warm and heartfelt invitaton to all past members to join us for our 40th Anniversary Gala Night which will be held on June 16th at the Croatian Centre in Sunshine.  This reunion Gala will be an opportunity to catch up with old friends and to recollect special memories of their time with Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati.  I believe there's also an opportunity or two to brush up on your kolo moves!  We've got some special guests joining us and it will be a wonderful folklor family get together!


I look forward the the year ahead because if you think this year is going to be big for Mladi Hrvati, wait until you hear about next year!


Let's get this party started.... Iiiijuuuujuu!

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.. this has been stuck in my brain ever since I came to Mladi Hrvati..

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 plans to retire from dancing after 20 years of dedicated work and in 1998, I took over as primary dance teacher for all three groups.

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) and bring some of these dance styles and steps back to Australia.

Croatian folklore to me is being able to pass on our heritage, custom and culture and language to other members of the Australian community in a way that is unique and not set in a classroom environment, rather a fun and rewarding one. My reward is seeing the enjoyment and satisfaction from the students and parents after performances and this is all I need to validate why we choose to keep the tradition of folklore going.

What also inspires me is the people that go to extraordinary efforts behind the scenes 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.

I have also taken up tamburica playing and am a part of the Mladi Hrvati Tamburica Orchestra. It comes as a nice change to be sitting in the ‘student’ chair again.

My aim for all of this is to ensure the safe, secure and correct passage of our heritage to future generations of Australian-Croatians through folklore.

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. 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 all the experienced members who have been dancing for years.

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