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 »  Home  »  Music  »  LADO prestigious Croatian national folklore ensemble visited Japan in 2006
 »  Home  »  Croatian spirituality  »  LADO prestigious Croatian national folklore ensemble visited Japan in 2006
 »  Home  »  Education  »  LADO prestigious Croatian national folklore ensemble visited Japan in 2006
 »  Home  »  Culture And Arts  »  LADO prestigious Croatian national folklore ensemble visited Japan in 2006
LADO prestigious Croatian national folklore ensemble visited Japan in 2006
By Darko Žubrinić | Published  07/9/2012 | Music , Croatian spirituality , Education , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Japanese impression: "... If I were born again, I would like to be born a Croat, so I could dance these beautiful dances with LADO"

LADO, Croatian national folklore ensemble, in Tokyo, Japan in 2006

AUDIENCE REACTION - Japan, October/ November 2006
"... If I were born again, I would like to be born a Croat, so I could dance these beautiful dances with LADO"

"On an international scale, LADO has famous dancers, singers and musicians, who have thrilled us with magical dances, colourful costumes and a wonderful interpretation of Croatian folklore."

"LADOthe Folk Dance Ensemble, began its visit in the City Centre. There is nothing more moving. An image of pure style and class is presented here."

"Let us remember their tremendous success at EXPO 67, where LADO was considered the best folklore ensemble of its time. This is best proven once again by last night's show at the San Carlo Theatre, where we were introduced to a uniquely original program, in which every number was spectacular."

"This is an example of irresistible folklore charm, a demonstaration of an unrestrained lifelong happiness, and a diverse composition of national dances and music.This image, full of lively colours, has once again thrilled its audience."

"Their lavish costumes, dances and songs, display an amazing unity and perfect discipline. Fast paced rythms are executed with mind boggling precision and skill. The ensemble manages to perform dances from various regions of Croatia with such expertise, so that practically every show in itself is a small masterpiece."

"In this time of confusion and lack of spontaneity, a message of pure serenity and an instinctive longing for simple tradition is a life saving element. A passion and attachment to historic traditions, passed on from one generation to the next, exudes from the artistry of the Zagreb ensemble, which makes it one of the best folklore groups in the world."

"We are dealing with an ensemble which belongs among the best. An amazingly interesting program, both distinctive and diverse, presented us with an animated, high quality performance."

"Perhaps the most entertaining performance among the many guest ensembles, which we were able to see."

"LADO effortlessly continues the purest source of national artistry. Wherever this ensemble may show up, it carries along with it artistic triumph."

"LADO dancers presented an amazing show, full of grace and character, which carried much enthusiasm. But it isn't only this aspect which excites us. Here, we also have an elegant, emotional, and artistic creation. National costumes, characterized by specific regions of Croatia, are remarkably beautiful.The dancers win over the audience with their abilities.Everything is so spontaneous, that the spectator finds themself believing to be among the actual villagers, as supposed to artists. It is as if one has been led through a foreign land, seduced by its beauty."

"This is a superb group, distinctive for its performing culture. Characteristically, every dance is accompanied by singing, where one sees that the performers are not only amazing dancers, but amazing singers as well."

"It has been a long time since Stockholm has seen such a theatre performance. Boundless amounts of colour, rythm and delight are graciously offered to the audience."

"Not one person left the theatre without saying a word of praise for this wonderful performance, expression of culture, great taste and temperament; such a unique performance presented simply and powerfully."

"Today the LADO dancers surprised us with their stunning talent, speed and strength of style."

""This presentation was a group triumph, which consisted of true artists."

"LADO dancers bring along a sense of wind from the mountains and scents of the valleys."

"Rarely has a folklore ensemble been able to touch upon all our musical senses on such a grand measure. Extreme modern culture has made it difficult to know one's earthly breath. Anyone who has forgotten the taste of fresh spring water has a spiritual responsibility to attend tonight's second LADO performance."

"LADO's concert presents a symphony of movement and sound"

"An encounter with the LADO ensemble became a grand experience and a display of authentic high class folklore.Briefly stated: folklore artistry at its best."

"Their amazing energy most likely stems from practice; but their stature, work and beautiful presence comes out of their love of dance, and the pleasure experienced by dancing together."

"It was so brilliant, that something more brilliant cannot be imagined."

"Every dance which LADO performed held true to the character of each region from north to south. There was not an ounce of insincerity. It was natural beauty and at times it seemed as if we were taking in the life of a dancer."

"Each dance was greater than the previous. The community was thrilled with the perfect execution and beauty of the songs and dances."

"LADO offers its audience a graceful fresco which hums and shimmers."

"What makes this ensemble stand out among the many different folklore groups is the uniqness of their performances, which are done with an unquestionable passion to preserve the purity of folklore, regardless of the fact that individual numbers differentiate from one another. The dancers' abilities are praise worthy; a lifelong joy surged from the ensemble's performance, as well as from the young people who have completely dedicated themselves to their songs and dances and conquered everything with superior ease."

"It was a once in a lifetime experience. There was speed, tension, precision and artistic accomplishment, the joy of dance. It was folklore which impressed; real professional folklore of the highest quality."

"In brief, LADO was exactly as fresh and entertaining as folklore can and should be. LADO is one of the best."

"... LADO remains what it has always been: One of the biggest folklore ensembles in the world. An extremely polished program, carried out in the Symphony Space, highlighted all the characteristics of this group.LADO draws its audience in with the depth of their material and the diversity of their performances."


Reception offered to LADO by the Japanese Ambassador to Croatia His Excellence Mr. Tetsuhisa Shirakawa.
On the right to him Mrs. Ivana Laušić, director of LADO, and on the right Mr. Ivan Ivančan Jr., artistic director of the ensemble.

On the 11th of November, 1949 a Decree was passed, which officially allowed for the creation of a national ensemble of traditional song and dance. From day one LADO's home and site of operation has been the building located on Marshall Tito Square, better known as Croatian House. For a number of years two organizations operated from this building, one being Hrvatski Sokol (Croatian Hawk) and the other, Kolo (Croatian Choir Society). Today the Academy of Dramatic Art and the Croatian National Ballet Theatre also share this building.

In May 1995 during the aggression on Croatia the building was the target of a missile attack which resulted in a number of members of the Ballet being injured.

During the first few years following World War II, several amateur folklore groups were formed, and one which gained particular prominence was Joza Vlahovic, the Youth Cultural and Artistic Society of Zagreb which was led by Artistic Director, Professor Zvonimir Ljevaković. As early as 1947, the group gained enviable international success at the first World Youth Festival in Prague by receiving second place in the competition; behind the well-known Igor Moiseyev Ensemble.

Drawing on his vast experience and continuous on-site research, Ljevaković collected a wealth of traditional folklore material which he artistically arranged and adapted for the stage. Due to his knowledge, his acute aesthetic sensibilities for colour and harmony, and to his personal involvement in the field, the LADO ensemble today has a uniquely and sizable collection of original national costumes, many of which are of museum quality. For twenty four years, until he retired, Professor Ljevaković was the artistic and inspirational leader of LADO, and was its most successful choreographer creating many folklore works for the stage which musically and choreographically are based on authentic expressions and elements of Croatian traditional folklore. Professor Zvonimir Ljevaković can, without a doubt, be given credit for much of the significant international recognition that LADO has received, and for its outstanding success with both audiences and critics alike.

From its first performance on February 4th 1950 at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, LADO's focus and attention to Croatian traditional music and customs was clearly evident. This first concert consisted of nine dance suites, and six vocal numbers one of which was a Croatian folklore piece from Bosnia. Also performed at this concert were the following pieces: dances from the Island of Krk (Krčki tanac), Linđo from Dalmatia, dances from Slavonia and Vrlika, Young Man's Dance of Croatian Bunjevci, a wedding dance from Pokuplje, a dance from Istria (Balun), and dances from Posavina. An element of this Posavina choreography was six female dancers spinning in a circle, which later was to become LADO's recognizable trademark. A short but very positive review of this first performance of the new ensemble was given by the celebrated Professor Tvrtko Čubelić in the Vjesnik daily paper.

The person who was to succeed Zvonimir Ljevaković had to be a person equally knowledgeable in traditional song and dance and in 1974 it was Dr. Ivan Ivančan who became the new artistic director of the LADO Ensemble. Dr. Ivančan is Croatia's most renowned ethno-choreographer and is an author of over twenty books on Croatian dance traditions. Ivančan's significant contribution to LADO's repertoire, together with the wealth of choreographies he has created for many amateur ensembles throughout Croatia has set him apart from all others in the area of folklore in this country.

Tijekom polustoljetnog rada Ansambla LADO, s posebnim obzirom prema stilu rustikalnog pjevanja, kao i sviranju na narodnim glazbalima, pažljivo se pristupalo obradi glazbene sastojnice svake koreografije, ali i samostalnih glazbenih točaka, čime je otklonjena opasnost prelaska granice "dobrog ukusa" i poniranja u val "novoskladane" narodne glazbe. Za glazbenu djelatnost Ansambla osobito su se brinuli u ranijim godinama Božo Potočnik, a poslije muzički rukovoditelji Dinko Fio (1975-1980), Tomislav Uhlik (1983-1985) i Bojan Pogrmilović (1985-1998). Već niz godina folklorni zbor uvježbava Dražen Kurilovčan koji, uz povremene vanjske suradnike, ravna koncertnim izvedbama Ansambla.

The path set by Zvonimir Ljevaković continued with Dr. Ivan Ivančan and was followed by artistic directors Hanibal Dundović (1983-1991) and Ivan Ivančan Jr. (1992 to the present), both of whom are experienced and long-time collaborators of the ensemble. Ivancan Jr. continued and built upon the work of Dundović, who together with Tomislav Uhlik and Bojan Pogomilović enhanced and developed the great vocal and instrumental potential of the ensemble, which were always present but not fully exposed. They achieved this by giving stand alone vocal concerts, concerts by the orchestra and by making recordings. Ivančan Jr. who with youthful enthusiasm combined with an abundance of experience has not only continued the positive work of his predecessors, but has also furthered and broadened it in all possible ways.

From the time of LADO's inception a half century ago, particular attention has been paid to the rustic style of open voice singing, as well as the playing style of traditional instruments; and careful consideration was given to the musical elements of every choreography and every instrumental piece. As a result, the material has stayed as authentic as is possible and prevents the possibility of emulating the 'newly composed' folklore music, or to cross the boundaries of 'good taste'. Initially in the Ensemble it was Božo Potočnik who was responsible for this musical direction and attention to detail, and later he was followed by musical directors: Dinko Fio (1975-1980), Tomislav Uhlik (1983-1985) and Bojan Pogrmilović (1985-1998). This duty has now fallen to Dražen Kurilovčan, who for a number of years now has been directing the vocal work of the ensemble and together with guest associates is responsible for the vocal aspects of performances.

Since December 1990, LADO has been equally successful with its performances of traditional sacred music and of these the two most well-known are the Christmas concert held at the Cathedral in Zagreb, and the Lenten concert which is held together with other programs of the Croatian Passion Heritage manifestation.

In addition to performing in world renowned concert halls and on national and international stages, LADO has also given concerts for distinguished audiences at various major international conferences and symposiums, at academic functions and celebrations, at fairs and world exhibitions, at University Games, at the Olympics, and at international and national festivals. It should also be mentioned that LADO has successfully collaborated with the Croatian National Theatre Ballet Company's Đavo u selu (Devil in the Village) by Fran Lhotka and with the Komedija City Theatre (Đerdan (traditional necklace)) by Jakov Gotovac and has performed Narodil se mladi Kralj (The Young King is Born) by Vid Balog and Tomislav Uhlik. LADO has also performed internationally as a result of invitations from Croatian expatriates, who through LADO, can revive memories of their musical and dance traditions, and who can perhaps spark an interest in their descendants for the sounds of the land of their forefathers..

As a result of performances given both within and outside of Croatia, LADO has many audio recordings and videos, in addition to TV and radio selections, thus leaving a permanent record and extensive legacy of folkloric activities caught in a particular moment in time. Evident in this material is the attention that is paid to the manner of musical interpretation and to the quality of performance. Aside from creating a general interest for Croatian traditional music, LADO also endeavours to broaden the path to a more complete understanding of its musical expressions and of areas for which many citizens of Europe (and the world) still cannot determine what geographic parallels they belong to. Whether or not such music is a bit too exotic or inaccessible to the average European listener is hard to say, but it is safe to say that Europe (or at least its experts) have ever so often recognized and acknowledged the distinctiveness of Croatian folklore music, as well as the excellence of performance, which LADO has always defined as the goal of its work when promoting Croatian folklore and art.


Mrs. Ivana Laušić, director of LADO in the middle, Dr. Drago Štambuk, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Japan, on the right to her.

Tokyo, Japan 2006

Many thanks to Mr. Krunoslav Šokac from the LADO ensemble for sending us the above very nice photos.

Bagpipe tradition in Croatia. Arrangement by Krunoslav Šokac, LADO.

Formated for CROWN by Darko Žubrinić
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