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!