SERBIAN CULTURAL DANCE ENSEMBLE ZAVICHAJ
14955-20TH Avenue,Surrey, BC, V4A 8E9,
Serbian Cultural Dance Association Zavichaj was formed on August 19, 2010 with the purpose of
encouraging young people to engage in Serbian dance and music. A high standard with regards to choreography, costumes,
make up and stage design is vital in this field of work.
Wise man said " When you meet a person never ask him where is he from, let him dance and you
will know ". Our dance group is called ZAVICHAJ,when translated it means homeland.
Our group currently has about 80 members, divided into three different age group. Together we
encourage our children to learn about our heritage, our culture, to become better people by learning
how to express their selves with singing and dancing and at the end of the day, watching them grow in a healthy environment
is nothing less than success.
The choreographers and founders of this organization Dragan and Isidora Markovic have been perfo-
rming, dancing and teaching for more than 20 years,with a great desire to pass their skills on future ge-neration.
Long before I understood the complexity of my Serbian heritage, when I couldn’t even spot Serbia on a map, I
was dressed in a tiny ‘nosnja’, or traditional Serbian dance costume, and learned the fancy footwork of my
family’s roots. I was immediately drawn by the aesthetics of foklor, it was a five year old’s dream of dress-up
and play. After more than ten years of dancing, I decided to apply myself to dance in a more informed way: I
watched, I listened, and I learned that this was more than just a performance art form, but it also helped
solidify a social identity for all Serbian generations.
Costuming for Serbian folk dancing aims to represent each region from which the dance came. At a quick glance of a dancer’s sheep herding hat or his cane, one would
recognize that regions industry. The rich colours of our ‘nosnje’, the browns, golds, reds and greens, are a throwback to the organic environment of our history. They represent
nature, agriculture, and the resources that lie within Serbian borders. Each article has a practical purpose for village life. By showcasing these colours, we are digging our
hands into the soil of our roots, repeating the motions of our ancestors. The choreography of this dance form is delicate, the patterns intricate. The dancers move like soldiers
in unison, their movements sharp and disciplined. Although this dance form relies heavily on footwork, a well-performed piece incorporates proper posture, head positioning
and hand placements. The more I watch these dancers perform and practice, the more my own identity becomes clear to me. The beauty of our culture resonates through the
costumes, but the heart of our culture shines in the discipline and hard work of every completed step.
The sounds of our heritage are also being preserved. One could close their eyes and hear the joined stomps of dancers, moving in unison to a variety of ancient
instruments. There is the frula, the accordian, a series of drums, the sargija, and the harmonica. Much praise is due to be given to mentors Isidora and Dragan for
introducing singing coach Ivana Suljagic to elevate the performers harmonic sound. Surely, nothing raises the hairs on the back of our necks like the sound of
countless dancers singing songs that span centuries. Songs my grandmother would sing under her breath when I was a child. To add a mystical and enchanting
end to the orchestra of sounds involved in a particular dance, one can hear the faint chime of the ‘dukati’ worn around a dancer’s neck. Like the dancers
themselves, the sound of dukati follow their feet, everything is synchronized.
Although nothing can replace the power of a professional Serbian dance performance, the power of practice is irreplaceable. If they never performed one dance for
an audience, it would all still be worth it. The family of dancers, instructors, volunteers, parents and supporters has created a solid foundation for both my
generation and those who have left their roots in the Balkans but choose to preserve them from here. Friends have been made. Relationships have grown. The story
of our collective heritage is being told through so many mediums, and we speak with one voice.
Undeniably irreplaceable are instructors, mentors, and parents Isidora and Dragan Markovic. They have dedicated themselves to their dancers for upward of twenty
years and continue to provide moral support, humour and guidance to dancers of all generations. I personally thank them for all the years they instructed my sisters
and me and for sitting patiently to listen to all my qualms as I matured from child to young adult. The energy of love they have created for the family of dancers is
enough to impress our ancestors and more than enough to remind us that, although we may not be in the exact location of our roots at this time, we will be proud to
carry them no matter where we go.
About the authour:
From a very young age, Danica Bjelica has had a strong flair for creativity with the written word. She has the ability to not only put together a written piece of work,
but to compile those words in a manner that is very vivid and descriptive – when reading her stories, the words become pictures, sights and sounds that amazingly
come alive in our minds. This talent has led her in the direction of journalism and she is currently studying at UBC with the future hopes and aspirations of a truly
gifted young writer. We wish to express our gratitude for her time and efforts in compiling this inspired piece of work.
preserved visually, through sound, and eventually reaching all of the senses. However, separate from the performance aspect of
exclusive group. We are a family.