FOLK DANCING AT THE SLOVENIAN ASSOCIATION MELBOURNE
Folklorna skupina was formed informally in 1957 for processions at Sunbury and Moomba processions in
Teacher: Vinko Oman
Dancers: Maks Hartman jnr., Anica Molan, Vinko, Niko and ? Oman, ? Podbevšek, Helena, Adrian, Piere and Angelique Van de Laak, Lojze Zadravšek, Marjan Novak, Liliana Zdražil.
Teacher: Draga Gelt OAM nee Setnikar, in years 1978 to 2004.
The dancers through the years were: Kevin and Toni Adamič, Stanko Ašenberger, Donna and Paul Bevc, Aleš, Edvard, Igor, Jana and Tania Brgoč; Lili and Peter Conlan, Zlatko Fekonja, Albert, Anita, Andrew, Julie, Leah, Melissa, Michelle, Simon and Sonja Fistrič; Eric and Frances Gelt, Vivien Gomizelj, Dorothy and Rex Gregorič, Johny and Maks Hartman jnr., Kevin and Marija Hervatin; Andreja Hojak, David and Julie Krnel, Margaret Kalister, Sonja Kraner; David Kordež, Dušan and Jana Lavrič, Mario Ličan, Anica, David, Lidija, Lojze and Tanja Markič; Toni Mertic, Sonja Oberstar; Marija, Samantha and Simon Penca, Damian, Magda, Marie and Natasha Pišotek, Kathy, Rosie and Suzanna Prosenak; Kerrilee and Brendan Smith, Barbara and Veronica Smrdel, Natasha Špilar, Marko Tavčar, Geanette Urbančič, Frances, Natasha and Tony Urbas, Suzie Vičič, Eddy and Viki Zorzut, Mary Žele.
The adult folk dancing group of the Slovenian Association Melbourne performed with dances from Gorenjska, accompanied by Viktor Lampe.
They performed at Moomba, Eltham Festival, and for various Slovenian functions and celebrations.
The children’s folk dancing group, in Gorenjska national costumes, performed for the Association’s Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, Hunters Dance, Christmas celebration, at many Australian primary schools (Holy Spirit, Ringwood; Westall Primary School in Oakleigh, Eltham Primary), at The Institute of Early Childhood Development, Kew; at the ‘Back to Bonegilla’ 40th Anniversary celebration, Bonegilla; local Fire Brigade functions; Albury-Wodonga Town Hall; Jadran Club celebration; Geelong Slovenian Association; on the memorable cultural programs for the 30th and 35th Anniversaries of the Slovenian Association Melbourne; Slovenian festivals; as Floor Show guests at weddings; and for the celebration of The Year of Peace.
The youth folk dancing group performed in Gorenjska, Prekmurje and Bela Krajina national costumes, made by Dragica Gomizelj, Anica Markič and Milena Brgoč.
They danced at all the Association functions, as well as the Slovenian Youth concerts in Sydney, Canberra and Kew; at club functions in Adelaide and Geelong, Albury and local Australian festivals and were invited to perform at the Austrian Club and for the American Slovenians visiting Melbourne.
“I established the children’s, youth and adult folk dancing groups, which performed at many concerts; the Slovenian Youth Concerts in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney; at different club functions all over Victoria; at the anniversary celebration of the Migrant Camp at Bonegilla; various ethnic festivals;
weddings and private functions, and on the occasion of the Papal Visit to Melbourne (His Holines Pope John Paul II). The youth dancing group performed most often due to the variety of colourful costumes and dances from different regions of Slovenia.
We also learned some Australian Colonial (Australian) dances.
“I was very successful in initiating and preparing narrative texts and directing many cultural programmes with a theme, including the 30th, 35th, 50th and 55th Association celebrations, Celebration of Australia, various Festivals and Literary Cultural days, when the folgdancing groups performed.”
Costumes preparation and construction:
The care of national costumes were the responsibility of Dragica Gomizelj, who in 1954 made the very first national costume of Gorenjska region for the Slovenian club. A painting of the costume was completed most probably by Stanko Tušek.
In later years more costumes were aquired and the dancing group was formed. Stanko and Franc Hartman played the button accordion for the dances and in later years Viktor Lampe.
Cassettes by France Marolt from Slovenia were used or music played on a piano accordion by Branko Tomažič – Srnec for a few performances.
In 1984 a working bee was organized:
Milena Brgoč, Marija Krnel and Dragica Gomizelj have sewed men’s and ladies’ costumes of the Prekmurje and Bela Krajina regions as well.
The costume archive registry of all the national costumes and the costumes for symbolic and modern dancing was prepared, numbered and organized by Anita Fistrič nee Žele in 1991 – 1992 with the help of Dragica Gomizelj, Marija Dolenc, Mary Žele, Dorothy Gregorič and Anica Kodila. All the costumes were labeled as the Association costumes.
Anita Fistrič and Dragica Gomizelj still maintain and care for the costumes.
Folk dancing group Iskra practising at the Slovenian Religious and Cultural Centre, regularly uses costumes from Slovenian Association Melbourne.
Draga Gelt OAM
Teacher: Marija Hervatin nee Mandelj, 1992 to 1996
Dancers: Bradley and Laura Conlan, Amanda and Michelle Hervatin, Damian and Matthew Lavrič, Samantha and Simon Penca, Martin and Stefan Tegelj, Jessica and Shanon Trinnick.
“I taught during the mid- to late 1990s at Slovenian Association Melbourne now known as Australian-Slovenian Social and Sporting Association Melbourne Inc.
Being a first generation Australian of Slovenian descent, I found it a privilege to have the opportunity of
teaching traditional Slovenian folk dancing to the young students who ranged in age from four to eight
It was a very special time for me and also personally rewarding being able to pass onto the next
generation a piece of Slovenian culture and an honour to then see some of these students, now young
adults, continuing to learn with passion many dances from all regions of Slovenia. They bring pride and
enjoyment to the Slovenian community in Melbourne and other States each time they perform.
There were always very many special events in the Slovenian School where the children would perform
for the Slovenian community. Special events, like Miklavž, were ones the children especially enjoyed.
The students would always have lots of fun dressing up to a theme and performing folk dancing and short
plays and poems in Slovenian.
As generations pass, we must try to maintain the knowledge of our Slovenian heritage and culture by
continuing to nurture each new generation and provide them with ongoing opportunities to learn.”
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We were told we were not wearing correctly Gorenjska costume girls’ headpiece