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National Folk Ensembles and Groups in Slavic Countries

Ensembles that generate and share dance heritage of our ancestors

Virsky Ukrainian national folk dance ensemble (source: wikimedia)

Slavic countries are abundant in folklore groups of all kinds. Their main goal is to preserve local and some of them also national traditions and folklore and to pass the heritage on to the following generations. Members of the folklore groups are mostly enthusiasts of all ages who love music and showing off beautiful folklore dresses, as well as performing in front of audiences at folklore festivals. Ethnographic ensembles formed and became popular in first decades of the 20th century. These were usually choirs often with orchestral accompaniment and sometimes a group of dancers. They originally performed works based on the ethnic folk music of the area, however over the past 40 years they have become more academic regarding their performance style and material. Nowadays they share music in dances in very special and artistic ways.

Some countries also have leading national ensembles and folklore groups, which are prestigious and professional. Here is a list of most famous and leading folklore groups from each Slavic country.

Belarus

The State Dance Ensemble of Belarus 

The State Dance Ensemble of Belarus is a leading choreographic collective of the country. It was founded almost 50 years ago and after a number of years it became the best professional ensamble of Belarus. In October 1999, the government of the republic conferred the ensemble an honorary title of Honored Collective of the Republic of Belarus.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SelCa1MEE0&w=854&h=480]

Belarusian state honoured choreographic ensemble “Khoroshki”

“Khoroshki” is one of the legendary Belorussian ensembles. The history of the ensemble started in 1974. The white stork is the emblem of the choreographic group and also a symbol of the Belarusian land. Special pride of ensemble is their huge costume fund with more than 1500 different sets of stage wear.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJZPappoimw&w=854&h=480]

Bulgaria

Bulgarian National Folklore Ensemble Philip Kutev

National Ensemble of folk songs and dances Philip Kutev was established in 1951 by its founder and chief art director of the ensemble Philip Kutev (1903-1982). The orchestra, brilliant dancers and the amazing vocal techniques of the choir have made the Philip Kutev Folklore Ensemble famous worldwide. During more than 50 years of its existence, generations of folk singers, dancers and instrumentalists have shown over 500 unique pieces of Bulgarian musical art and made over 5300 performances throughout the world.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysLF7Ij-QiY&w=854&h=480]

Croatia

Lado, the National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia

National folk dance ensemble Lado was founded in 1949 in the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, as a professional national ensemble. It represents the rich and diverse regional musical and choreographic traditions of Croatia and also have the aim of researching, artistically interpreting and presenting on stage, traditions of Croatian music and dance. The ensemble has 40 brilliant dancers, who are also excellent singers, its 14 superb musicians play some fifty different traditional and classical instruments. Repertoire of ensemble consists of more than a hundred different choreographs.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTYobkbjMas&w=854&h=480]

Czech Republic

Military Artistic Ensemble Ondráš

The founder of the only Czech professional ensemble is the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic in 1954. Its dramaturgy focuses on ethical regions of Moravia and Bohemia. The group consists of young talented artists, both dancers, musicians and singers.They also perform Slovakian folk dances.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSuFhse1k-o&w=854&h=480]

Macedonia

National Ensemble for Dances and Songs of Macedonia “Tanec”

The ensemble “Tanec” is a symbol of the Macedonian folklore, tradition and culture. It was created in 1949, by the “Decree of the Macedonian Government”. For 60 years, the ensemble with his repertoire encompasses one of the most beautiful traditional dances and songs from all over Macedonia and presenting it at home and abroad. It is considered as “mobile museum” because some of the their costumes have more than 150 years.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux6UM68yxpA&w=854&h=480]

Poland

State Folk Group of Song and Dance ‘Mazowsze’

Mazowsze is a famous Polish folk group and is named after the Mazowsze region of Poland. Ensamble was established by a decree issued by the Ministry of Culture and Art on 8 November 1948. Today “Mazowsze” delights with its youth, vigor, professionalism and color. The repertoire  includes the folkloric work of 42 Polish regions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeQ6jYzt6cM&w=854&h=480]

Polish National Song and Dance Ensemble “Śląsk”

This ensemble is named after the Silesia (“Śląsk”) region in after Mazowsze one of the largest Polish folk ensembles. It was founded on 1 July 1953 and was first focused on the folk traditions of Silesia and the Beskids. It was later expanded to include all Polish regions. The ensemble has performed more than 6,000 shows for over 20 million people worldwide.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INBNxPUT2P4&w=854&h=480]

Russia

The Beryozka Choreographic Ensemble of Russian Folk Dance

When ensamble was founded in 1948 was entirely female. Ensemble was named after first production of the Russian girls’ round dance Little Birch (Berezka) staged in 1948 to the music of the Russian folk round-dance song “A Little Birch Stood in the Field”. Although it now features men, too, the ensemble’s main characters and performers are still girls. The ensemble has more than han 100 members and had concerts in more than 50 foreign countries. Many past and nowadays female dancers are Honored Artists of USSR and Russia. Berezka is famous around the whole world especially by “the Chain” and “the Birch Tree”dances.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aosUHfbdnn4&w=854&h=480]

The National Dance Company of Siberia (Mikhail Godenko Krasnoyarsk State Academic Dance Ensemble of Siberia)

Ensemble is named after famous Soviet choreographer Mikhail Godenko who founded it in 1960. Ensemble’s style is built on imagery, high artistry, emotion and combination of different elements. For example, a combination of a traditional khorovod (ring dance), modern dance and even acrobatics.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF9IJXA9XU8&w=854&h=480]

The Igor Moiseyev Folk Dance Ensemble

Igor Moiseyev was ballet dancer and choreographer who formed the Soviet Union’s first professional dance ensemble in 1937. The ensemble’s repertoire includes Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Moldovan, Lithuanian and other dances.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtHB-r3QGsw&w=854&h=480]

The Alexandrov Russian Army Song and Dance Academic Ensemble

Ensemble is an official army choir of the Russian armed forces and year 1928 is considered as the day of establishment. The ensemble consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and a dance ensemble which make repertoire of more then 2 thousands musical compositions. Repertoire include the songs of Russian composers, national songs and dances, soldier dancing, spiritual music.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-jsXGLysCU&w=854&h=480]

Kuban Cossack Choir

Russian list must include one of the leading and the oldest folkloric ensembles in Russia which creation was set in year 1811. Its repertoire and performances reflect the songs, dances and folklore of the Kuban Cossacks, in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages. Choir has their own Cossack center which include children’s and teenage choirs and folk-instrument ensembles. It also collects traditional clothing and relics of the past from village life.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9DfylJoXw&w=854&h=480]

Slovakia

Lúčnica – The Slovak National Folklore Ballet

Lúčnica embodies the quintessence of Slovak folk art through dance and music since 1948 and has garnered top accolades at home and abroad. The ensemble’s members are students from secondary schools, colleges and universities in Bratislava, adding up to over 2 000 members. The ensemble’s artistic direction emanates from traditional folklore art. Its one-of-a-kind professional staging is the work of its artistic leader and chief choreographer, Professor Štefan Nosáľ.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXrIlQwk7Uw&w=854&h=480]

Serbia

Kolo Professional Dance Ensemble

Ansambl Kolo had been established in 1948 by Serbian federal government. The main mission of the ensemble is to collect, adapt and save from oblivion Serbian folk dances, songs and musical heritage from all ethnochoreological parts of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as authorities from the former Yugoslavia where lives or has lived Serbian population. The ensemble consists of professional 80 employees and made more than 120 choreographic 55 years of work.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg-FigRDBOE&w=854&h=480]

Ukraine

P. Virsky Ukrainian National Folk Dance Ensemble

This ensemble is a world-renowned Ukrainian dance company based out of Ukraine, well known for its innovative approach to the art form. The ensemble was founded in 1937 by Pavlo Virsky and Mykola Bolotov, and guided by Pavlo Virsky until his death in 1975. During World War II, Virsky performed for the soldiers at the front. In 1980, the company’s artistic direction was overtaken by Myroslav Vantukh, who had been a disciple of Pavlo Virsky. Virsky’s aim is to create dances that embrace historical Ukrainian dance traditions as well as dances that are innovative and forward-moving.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQlJ6hWhqdY&w=854&h=480]

Veryovka State Academic Merited Ukrainian Folk Choir

The National Honored Choir of Ukraine was founded in1943 and is now named after its famous founder – composer and choral conductor Hryhoriy Veryovka. Choir combines the unique styles and mannerisms of folk singing with a modern performance culture at a professional level.The choir’s repertoire ranges from authentic folklore to classical acapella interpretations of folk pieces and works by contemporary composers.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzlB0-LL_ck&w=854&h=480]

Sadly Bosnia, Montenegro and Slovenia don’t have professional folk ensembles or groups. If you would like to read more about Slavic folklore check out the Facebook page: Slavic folklore

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