Folk Dances & Costumes
Slovak Folk Dances
Many factors influenced the creation of music and dance expressions: the nature of the country, the way of living, distance from major cities, convention in the clans and villages, transmigration of the population, customs and requirements of the peers, also a significant expression of gifted individuals, celebrities – composers that proceeded from ordinary people.
Most of the Slovak dances had a vocal accompaniment. Otherwise, the most common musical accompaniments were bagpipes, a violin, bass and a flute. The Polish and Hungarian folklore had some influence in certain parts. Slovak folk dances are characterized by temperament and some syntactic freedom. Most dances are danced without holding the partner, in a free position next to him, with hands on the side. The fast turnings, tramples and swirling variegate the charming choreographic construction and has a unique temperament.
In the 20th century classical dance folklore was dying. After the World War II folk dancing became an art scene. Folklore groups were gradually created, which kept folk dances on professional level. There are more than hundred folk groups in Slovakia. They are seeking the authentic representation of customs and traditions of their surroundings. This means that the choreography is built according to the celebrations of the year and includes traditional songs and spoken word to the given holiday.
SĽUK (Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív – The Slovak Folk Artistic Group) from Bratislava keeps folk dances on the professional level. SĽUK enriches folk dancing with special components from other types of dance arts such as ballet or scenic dance, and integrating them into a whole, it resembles the theater. See an example of their dance here: SĽUK – 9 Gorals
Other famous Slovak folk ensemble is a semiprofessional folk group Lúčnica, coming from Bratislava. See the video below:
Slovak Folk Costumes
Costumes or folk dress clothes identify the people living in villages, who were farming in the past. Costumes served as a protection against climate change.
The origin and development of the folk costumes were affected mainly by domestic raw materials, the type of work and employment, social class and nationality, religion and belief, contact with foreign countries and historical fashion of the higher social class. The biological characters, sex (men, women), age (children, youth and adults), the status and belonging to the family (single, married, widows). Material for the manufacture of folk clothing was determined by natural conditions and needs. They were manufacturing the skin and fur, flax, hemp and sheep wool to the textiles.
Oldest parts of the male clothing are the canopy shirt and breeches, cloth trousers and various kinds of three-quarter and long coats of fur, capes and caps. The women’s clothing from canopy is the underskirt, shirt, apron, skirt, cap, wool aprons, cloth three-quarter jackets and coats. This also included shoes and coiffure.
Costumes indicate differentiation of the regions. Various embroidery decorations, its technology, ornaments, color and composition are typical for these regions.
At the end of the 19th century Slovak costumes had about 60 variations. Costumes varied according to the decorative elements that were placed on the male and female garb, in embroideries, tissues, laces and in their techniques, ornaments and color.
Changing economic, social and political conditions in the 20th century and especially the Second World War and its consequences accelerated the gradual transition from the traditional costume to urban clothing, which in the mid-20th century infiltrated into all regions of Slovakia. Nowadays, the urban clothing is a dominant type of folk costumes also in villages.