Folklore has always been an important part of cultures all around the world. Although folklore comes in many forms, folklore dancing is probably the most famous one. Sadly, folklore dances are disappearing but on the Balkans, quite the opposite is happening; folklore thrives. I went to the Folklore Festival Skopje to find out more.

Since I booked my flight to Skopje very impulsively, I didn’t know that this unique festival had been planned. Luckily, I was just in time to witness it. Contestants from Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Bulgaria were lining up and marching through the city of Skopje. All dressed in amazing traditional clothes, they paraded in groups before walking across the Old Stone Bridge to the stage. 

 

As soon as the spectacular entrance had come to an end, I grabbed my chance to talk to 3 contestants from Slovenia. For their privacy, I’ll call them Marija, Cvetka and Jaka. I asked them several questions about the Folklore Festival Skopje. Marija said: ‘We sing and dance to keep the tradition alive.’ ‘And we have fun’, added Cvetka. When I asked them why they decided to participate in this old tradition, they said: ‘We want to save this old tradition and with that, Slovene history’

We were talking about the story they’re going to tell with their dance when the leader of the group showed up. She told me that back in the days, people in Slovenia used a wooden stick called ‘cepec’ to harvest cereals from the farmlands. She told me that children often played several games with these ‘cepeces’. The second performance would be about an old game as well, although without ‘cepec’. In the past, children blindfolded each other and then picked a dance partner without looking using their hands. This often resulted in very funny situations. Here, look for yourself!

 

One Macedonian group performed one of the most hilarious scenes of the entire evening. A little boy challenged girls to dance with him and although they always took his dance, they subsequently turned their backs on him (literally). In the end, the guy was dispirited before 2 older guys cheered him up, wonderful! Oh, and I didn’t get the chance to talk to the other groups but I did manage to record some videos.

 

The whole evening was spectacular, which is why I reached out to the director of the organisation: Biljana Lalchevska Serafimovska. She is the director of the Children Culture Centar Karpos Skopje and started this initiative to keep this marvellous tradition alive; how noble is that? Children can also attend photography classes and so much more.

Thank you Biljana for organising this amazing event! I also want to thank Bisera, Atsjeva, Marija, Cvetka, Jaka and all the other contestants. The Folklore Festival Skopje was amazing. Oh, and do you want to know more about the city of Skopje? Read this article!

Cheers, Thorsten.