Czechoslovakia gained independence in 1918. But even now, after nearly a century you can find customs and traditions that are very similar to most countries that formed the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire. What Czechia shares with Austria and especially Vienna, is the tradition of classical dance classes that are still considered something of a “rite of passage” in both neighboring countries.
The Ride of the Kings – a unique and colourful tradition practiced in only four south-east Moravian villages took place in the village of Hluk on Sunday. The ride refers to the flight of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus from Czech King George of Podébrady in the 15th century and involves a festive ride through the village with a boy portraying the monarch dresses in a traditional women’s folk costume to ‘mask’ his identity. The event which involves months of preparations end with a big celebration, dancing, drinking and merrymaking. The Ride of the Kings is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
Haka is a traditional Māori dance, which became world-famous thanks to the New Zealand rugby team All Blacks, who perform the dance during their pre-match ritual. It was recently performed by the Whakaari Rotorua group from New Zealand at the Prague folklore festival. Kristýna Maková met with the group’s leader, Frank Tomas Grapl Junior, who has both Māori and Czech roots. She first asked him what kind of music they brought to the Czech Republic:
The international ballet star Sergei Polunin is set to perform in the Czech Republic for the first time on Monday. The Ukrainian will give two shows at Prague’s National Theatre that will be preceded by a documentary about his career entitled Dancer. Tickets for both appearances sold out in less than five minutes. Formerly principal dancer with the British Royal Ballet, Polunin, who is 27, is today at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre.
Events were held around the Czech Republic on Saturday marking International Dance Day. The gatherings included large-scale dances that members of the public were able to learn in advance via internet videos. The choreography was put together by leading dancers from the National Theatre. In Prague a mass event took place on the plaza Václav Havel Square, which is beside the National Theatre.
Taking part in the carnival parade in Rio is an unforgettable experience and all you need to do is don a mask and costume and join in the revelry. But only the very best dancers have the privilege of dancing at the Sambódromo. Among the few foreigners to join this elite group of Brazilian dancers for the 2017 parade competition was Czech actor and dancer Viktor Polášek.
Mardi Gras celebrations have been taking place around the country ahead of Ash Wednesday. The Czech Republic may be one of the most secular countries in Europe but Czechs love to observe traditions and while few people are likely to fast during the 40 day Lent period they celebrate Mardi Gras (or Masopust as it is called in Czech) with a vengeance.
The Czech Republic has been marking “masopust” or the traditional Czech carnival which comes before the fasting period of Lent. Processions of people wearing colorful masks and costumes on Saturday marched through a number of villages and towns across the country, celebrating the beginning of Lent, which is traditionally accompanied by a zabijačka or pig-slaughter. One of the biggest event took place in the town of Roztoky u Prahy, with more than two thousand people attending the costumed parade to nearby Únětice.
Dancing is fun, but the latest research suggests it could be far more beneficial for your health than previously thought. Scientists at Brno’s Masaryk University are studying the effects of dancing on a group of seniors to see whether practicing this form of activity regularly could slow down or even prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Recently the Prague Spring Swing Festival packed out the Grand Hall at the Lucerna Palace, confirming the dance style’s growing popularity in the Czech Republic. Milo Saidl has been one of the pioneers of swing in this country as a leading member of scene mainstays the Zig Zag group. Today, however, Saidl is living out a long-held dream as a dance instructor in New York. When he came into our studios recently on a visit to Prague, I asked him how he had got into swing in the first place.