Slovak Rebels

Youths from the Slovak “folklore-drama” group Slovak Rebels live in the south-Slovak city of Komárno on the very border with Hungary. They everyday-life cultural experience is determined with the bilingual and ethnically Slovak-Hungarian mixed character of their hometown. Many of Slovak Rebels youths originate from the ethnically mixed families and are fluent in both languages used in the city. Slovak Rebels youths participated on Participant Active Research conducted by Matej Karásek and Lucia Hržičová. Participant Active Research was the intervention of the international project Cultural Heritage and Identities of Europe´s Future (CHIEF). The aim of this part of the project was to support the cultural ambitions of youth groups from the countries included in CHIEF project.

The discussions and fruitful collaboration with Slovak Rebels led to the idea of folklore-drama performance based on the folklore of a south eastern Slovak village called Bidovce. It was 17-year-old Lucia’s idea to present the local culture of Bidovce. She loves the traditional dances and music of this village. The village is inhabited by both Slovaks and Hungarians and, notably, the local folk songs are bilingual: a sloka in one language is followed by a sloka in the other language. Even though the village is at the other end of the country, the young members are deeply interested in its traditions and they point out analogies between the village and their ethnically mixed hometown and group. Slovak Rebels youths are convinced that the songs from Bidovce could be the embodiment of what they are.

Yoths from Slovak Rebels group see the message of their performance for the surrounding world. This message is clearly articulated by Veronica:

‘People from the rest of Slovakia are not able to understand that we coexist alongside the Hungarians. I have frequently met people who think we live here in military ditches and fight each other constantly. For the rest of the world, it could be interesting that we can live together, like each other and moreover, that we have no problem doing not only our own folklore but also theirs.’

Slovac Rebels Youths carefully studied the archive video recording of dances and reconstructed a local dance for the stage. A small group of members travelled to the village and did their own amateur research into the local folk culture. They found old villagers who could remember the traditional songs and recorded them. The group´s musicians reconstructed and practiced the local song which will be the centre piece of the plot and represent the core idea of the upcoming folklore-drama performance. They recorded their interpretation of the folk song in studio.

The song is called Secret love (Tajná láska in Slovak, Titkos szerelem in Hungarian). The members claim that just as there are two languages in this song, there are two languages in one culture. Therefore, the drama play itself will be called Tajná láska/Titkos szerelem: One culture in two languages. This notion not only represents the members’ representations of Bidovce village at the other end of the country, but even more importantly, it also represents their understanding of their own hometown, region, and community. However, it is equally important to note that the idea of a folklore performance representing both Slovak and Hungarian folklore at the same time is an unprecedented moment not only for the Slovak Rebels group, but also in the history of the Slovak folklore movement.