The Folk Dance Ensemble received boisterous applause from the audience at the opening ceremonies of the Karlovac Croatian Folk Dance Festival. Performing in a different village outside of Karlovac each evening throughout the week allowed the dancers and musicians to see the beautiful Croatian countryside and meet new people. They also had the opportunity to visit the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park, considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. The waterfalls and pristine lakes were breath-taking.
One of the highlights of the week was learning various Croatian dance styles from Drazeh Makaruh, director of the Matija Gubec Croatian Dance Ensemble. Our own Mountain Strings band also learned traditional music for the new dances and then joined the Croatian musicians in playing the unique melodies and rhythms. As the finale number for the closing ceremonies, the Folk Dance Ensemble performed one of the Croatian choreographies they had learned in borrowed, stunning, hand-embroidered Croatian costumes. They received a standing ovation.
One of the highlights of the week was learning various Croatian dance styles from Drazeh Makaruh, director of the Matija Gubec Croatian Dance Ensemble.
After each performance, the folk dance groups (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Macedonia) got together and had an after party. Groups would teach each other their traditional dances and the musicians would play together, learning each other’s music styles. It was a unique and educational experience for the BYU students.
The group also presented a devotional for the LDS members and local missionaries. Several dancers from the Croatian dance ensemble had expressed an interest in attending the fireside after spending the week with the BYU students. It was a blessing to interact with the local members and invited non-members.
The students are building character with a smile on their face and a twinkle in their eyes, as they endure hot temperatures, high humidity and no air conditioning. The group is now off to Venice, Italy, and then to the next folk festival in Burgos, Spain for more adventures.