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.
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.
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, it comes as a great change to be able to take a step back and sit in the ‘student’ chair again.
Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje!