The Group of Folk Songs and Dances Ostravica
1960 – 1970
The group Ondráš, which was established in Janovice, moved to Frýdek-Místek in July 1960. The textile factory Slezan and its associated workers´ club took the folklore enthusiasts under its wings. The main organizer was Jindřich Krupa who was also a singer and editor. Věra Šimková who became the artistic director had already gathered her experience in group Ondráš and from Věra Šejvlová.
The systematic work in the field of dance and music, and especially the cooperation of Věra Šimková with the musicians Josef Pavlán, Štěpán and Leopold Kotek and Vojtěch Děcký brought the ensemble into the awareness of the laic and professional public in the first decade.
The group, already called Ostravica, performed all over the country and participated in the first competitions. The ensemble also travelled abroad for the first time. It was to Belgium. The first recordings of songs and dances were made during this period. Jindřich Krupa, Slavomír Lenert and Věra Šimková made a collection from surroundings of the lower part of the Ostravice river and Věra Šejvlová with František Bonuš collected songs and dances from the upper part of the Ostravice river and border Kysuce.
The first ensemble dances were mainly figural dances but it had also choreographic ones such as handicraft dances from Frýdek-Místek, brigand dances, cardas from Lassko-Slovakian border or Zahon na kobzole (funny women´s dance).
1970 – 1980
In the 1970s, the group won its first awards. Bronze from Florence in Italy, state award „For excellent work“ , advancing to difficult competitions at the 3rd and 4th Czechoslovakia Folklore Festival in Košice and silver axe from Zakopane in Poland. Czech Television made a documentary film about Ostravica´s successful work at the festival in England. In addition, Ostravica also visited France and Portugal. The great cymbalo player and, since 1969, the artistic director of band Vladislav Turek contributed to these achievements. His musical arrangements were backed up by countless trips to witnesses, museums and archives. The first violinists were Josef Pavlán and Vladimír Vojkovský. The best dances of this period were Klebetnice, Ověnžoky and Staré čardáše.
Program How to sing and dance at Janošec in Kelčov was composed of songs and dances from collections in this area. Furthermore, there was a film about Mr. Janošec and about this program. The organizing chief of the group was Zdeněk Šprc.
1980 – 1990
The third decade of Ostravica´s activities was marked by the sudden tragic death of Vladislav Turek. The role of cymbalo player was taken by Jiří Vlkojan. Jiří Slavík, a clarinetist and later also a cymbalo player, became the artistic director of band. Josef Pavlán was replaced by Jiří Adámek who became the first violinist.
Ostravica brought a gold cup from Gorizia in Italy in 1984. Besides Italy, the ensemble visited France, Belgium and Switzerland. Věra Šimková worked on larger stage programmes and thought up Čardáše na novouherskou notu and Dodělaná – dance about the celebration of the spring planting of trees.
Jan Slíva took over the organizational role. In 1985, the LP record was released. The songs were also published in the form of a booklet "Ostravica sings " which was published by the Museum of National History in Frýdek-Místek in 1985. It was prepared by Mrs. Věra Šimková and Mr. Josef Pavlán.
Ostravica also started the tradition of Lassky ball during this period. The first one took place at the National House in 1987.
The Velvet Revolution brought changes not only in society but also in the folklore area. It brought freedom but also ended financial and material assistance, including the place for training provided by the National Enterprise Slezan and later the National House.
1990 – 2000
In the early 1990s , the group became an association and a non-profit organization. Ostravica moved to the former faculty of VSB (Technical University) Ostrava in Místek. Věra Šimková ended her artistic activity. For less than two years, Emílie Slavíková was in charge of Ostravica. Then Lenka Dujková became the artistic director. Almost ten years of cooperation of this excellent choreographer with the band director Jiří Adámek and cymbalo player Jiří Vlkojan brought new dances such as Šuhajko ore, Husar or Hamernické and the first thematic concerts „Hierarchy“, „Sdílení“ and „Přítel čas“. Lenka Dujková made her own collections from the area of village Morávka and created a funny and cheerful program Pod dvorem na Morovce. In 1996, Lenka Dujková came up with the idea to establish children´s group of dancers and musicians as a base for the adult group called Small Ostravica.
In 1991, we were invited by friends from Mulhouse in France. In 1995, Ostravica also visited the African continent and our performances were very successful. Dancers and musicians brought seven awards in seven categories from the International Festival Eisteddfood in Roodepoort in South Africa. At that time, Monika Škanderová and Tomáš Malinovský took over the organization. One year later, the cimbalom band recorded its first CD in the Czech Radio Ostrava.
The ensemble´s activities were recorded on the videotapes Dance in Lašsko for the Beskyd Museum in Frýdek-Místek (1993 and 1994) and 20 dances were recorded on the videotape Folk Dance from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (part Lašsko, 1995). Ostravica represented its region at the Prague Spring International Music Festival in 1997.
At the turn of the new millennium, Ostravica went to Sweden. On the way back we visited Hanover – EXPO 2000. The ensemble performed in the accompanying program of the world exhibition.
2000 – 2010
The beginning of the new millennium was marked by the search for people, ways and goals. The group found the place for training in the Cultural House in Lískovec. When Tomáš Malinovský ended his activities, the organization of the ensemble remained in the hands of Monika Škanderová for many years. She was responsible not only for operational matters but also for financing the ensemble. Irena Blablová became the artistic director for two years. From 2002 to 2005, Věra Šimková returned to folklore life with great courage and energy. She was able to cooperate with people who were up to three generations younger. Her creative ideas, spiced with years of experience, were stopped by serious health problems. Her departure to the folklore heaven in 2007 deeply affected Ostravica. Fortunately, other choreographic personalities grew up under her supervision. Irena Blablová returned to the role of artistic director in cooperation with Libuše Kvašná and with the support of choreographer Lenka Verlíková. Thanks to this cooperation, we have programmes such as Zvrtky, Jarmark, Vojna, Balada o sirotě, Svatojánské and children´s programmes Řemesla, U potoka, Žaby, Špalkový, Škola and concerts „Od slunka do slunka“, and „O stromu a o jabkach“.
Jiří Adámek gave the role of the first violinist and artistic director in the cimbalom band to the coming youth from group Valášek in Kozlovice – Jan Pustka, who also played with other musicians from Small Ostravica at that time. Later, Martina Jakobová became the artistic director of the band. She cooperated primarily with the first violinist Petra Nováková and the music editor Libor Chmelař. Radek Jakob brought new energy to the organizational management of the ensemble in 2008.
Inhabitants of the Canary Islands, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina could admire folklore of mountainous Lašsko and Moravian-Slovakian border. Historically, the longest foreign tour of Ostravica was the almost one-month tour in Brazil, where the ensemble participated in three folklore festivals in various corners of the country.
The group also christened a new CD „Singing about Life“ before the annual concert „Pictures Painted by Life“. It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ensemble.
2010 – 2019
Since 2010, a team of ten members of SLPT Ostravica has taken care of the artistic legacy of Věra Šimková and Vladislav Turek. In addition to dance and music, these members are engaged in artistic work, choreography, organization and management of Small Ostravica.
The group received many invitations abroad. We visited festivals in Belgium and Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara). We also participated at domestic festivals in Strážnice, Lhotka pod Ondřejníkem, Pardubice, Chrudim, Prostějov, Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, Přerov and others.
We celebrated the 55th anniversary of Ostravica together with Valašský Vojvoda with a concert which was called „Už stě o tym slyšeli?“ In the second part of the concert, we christened the third, this time a Christmas CD called „Němajtě za zle, že zme pryšli k vam“. This CD was directed by Jan Rokyta Jr.
At the beginning of 2016, there were major changes in the organization of Ostravica. Monika Škanderová and Radek Jakob ended their long-time work in the ensemble. Two years later, Martina Jakobová – the long-time first violinist, the artistic director of the band and the music editor, also left the group.
Radka Jirsová took the statutory leadership with the help of youger colleagues – Marek Žižka, Martin Tuhovčák and Matěj Křiva. The band welcomed new members – the first violinist Tomáš Bill and contrabass player Miroslav Kološ who became the artistic director. The beginnings were not easy, but the effort and determination of the new leadership brought success. The group visited other foreign countries. Dances and songs of our region were admired by audience in Romania, the Azores (Faial and Terceira) and Sardinia.
Ostravica also started to cooperate with other artists, so it took part in the Voice Workshop in the Capuchin monastery in Prague or Sweetsen Fest. Here, we performed together with the Symphony Orchestra of Frydek-Mistek in the program „Ladí – neladí“. Experienced choreographers and the artistic directors of the ensemble Irena Blablová and Libuše Kvašná created new dance programmes such as Z jednej krvi, Falešná láska, Peníze vyhraju, Lašská mičuda, Holka modrooká, Starodávné and Christmas programmes which Ostravica uses as individual dances or they are a part of composed programmes such as „Vánoční snění“, „Vánoční pohádka“, „Žeby Vánoce“, „Jak Kuba, Matěj a Fanuš dřistali o všeckym“, „Jednemu dal, druhem vzal“, „Dyž potká Lach Valacha“ and others.
Ostravica has been a regular guest at Socha´s ethnographic festival in Lhotka for 20 years. Every year, the group is a co-organizer of the International Folklore Festival Frýdek-Místek and its visitors enjoy Ostravica´s composed programs. Since 1987, the traditional ball has been taken place in the first week of February. It is the event where folklore friends and friends from various ensembles meet. Every year, the ball is inspired by a different theme, including midnight surprises choreographed by Libuše Kvašná and in recent years, in collaboration with Markéta Ivánková.
A children´s group of dancers, singers and musicians under the name of Small Ostravica was established on the initiative of the artistic director Lenka Dujková in October 1996 as a part of SLPT Ostravica and its potential base. Irena Blablová and Martina Krpešová were in charge of 70 children, the first choreographies were created by Lenka Dujková. The artistic director of the musicians was Pavel Goluch. Practices took place once a week in Místek, the headquarters of the whole group. The beginnings were not easy. It was very hard to practice with so many children of different age. In 1997, the first children´s summer camp with dance lessons took place. Children practiced their first dance „Cesta na trh“. A few mothers worked at the camp to help sew costumes for children. This event has become a tradition, so every year children have the opportunity to spend a week full of games, adventures but also dancing, singing and music. The children performed together with the adult group SLPT Ostravica for the first time at the concert „Sdílení“ in the Petr Bezruč Cinema in Místek on 29th November 1997.
A turning point in the history of Small Ostravica occurred when the ensemble moved to the House of Culture in Lískovec. It was a problem to get there for many members. Over the years, some children leave, new ones come. Iva Heczková and Lenka Vojkovská continued to lead the group with the help of Lenka Dujková. Children were divided into two groups – older children from the age of twelve were led by Roman Mokrosch and children over the age of five practiced in kindergarten in Frýdek under the guidance of Silvie Slavíková. Preschool and younger children merged into one group when Lenka Dujková left the ensemble in 2000. Silvie Slavíková and Jana Šimůnková took over direction, and Lenka Vojkovská helped them for two years. Organizational matters were in the hands of Daniela Dvorská, Marcel Pavlok and Lenka Pavloková. Irena Blablová, Pavel Eliáš, Lenka Polochová / Verlíková and Vít Novák took over the artistic direction of the older group during five years, and Alena Máchová was in charge of the organization. Due to Pavel Goluch´s health problems, Jana Ulčáková took over the musicians of Small Ostravica for two years. The next year, the band was under the control of Ladislav Vojkovský. Jana Nováčková was the organizational head of the band. The new choreographies were created by Irena Blablová and Silvie Slavíková, and the musical arrangements were provided by Pavel Goluch and Libor Chmelař. The children not only performed at concerts organized by Ostravica such as „Jarní koncert“, „Přítel čas“, „Léto budiž pochváleno“, but they also became regular participants of the International Folklore Festival Frýdek-Místek and Socha´s ethnographic festival in Lhotka. They performed in the surrounding towns – in Jablunkov, Dolní Lomná, Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, but they also visited festival Kunovské léto in Kunovice and the International Folklore Festival in Písek. In 2003, Small Ostravica went to the historically first foreign trip to Poland. Children performed at the Festyn Europejski in Przemyśl. The year 2004 was full of changes for Small Ostravica. The band joined the adult ensemble, and therefore Small Ostravica began to collaborate with the Art School in Místek and with the cimbalom band Šidla under the direction of Věra Csáczárová. Silvie Slavíková was director of the younger group with the organizational help of Daniela Dvorská. Radana Garnolová took over the leadership of the older group for one year and Vít Novák took over the position of the organizational leader. The following year, Small Ostravica performed at local festivals, in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm but they also had a performance at the International Folklore Festival in Šumperk. Moreover, children visited Raciborz in Poland again. When Věra Csáczárová retired in 2006, Jiří Hajdušek, later Přemysl Verlík, became the head of the band. A group of the youngest children was also re-established. This group was led by Monika Škanderová who, together with Radek Jakob, became the organizational leader of Ostravica, including Small Ostravica. Daniela Dvorská moved to the artistic management of the younger group and Irena Blablová returned to the direction of the older group for a time. At first she worked with Jakub Dvorský, but later she handed over her position to Marie Kvašná. In addition to the already mentioned concerts – this time „Od slunka do slunka“, „O stromu, o jabkach“ or „Vánoční snění“, children performed at the Easter Fair in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, at the summer concert in Brno, at the festival „O Babiacka Fajke“ in Poland or at the folklore festival in Bielsko Biale.
Radek Jakob, who replaced Marie Kvašná, became the new artistic director of the older group. Under his leadership, in 2009, Small Ostravica went to the first longer trip abroad to the Balkans – to Macedonia. At the end of 2009, Small Ostravica said goodbye to the cimbalom band Šidla. Radka Jirsová helped with the youngest children. Leaders of the younger and older groups remained unchanged for the next two years. The dancers were accompanied by adult band of SLPT Ostravica. Some of the children collaborated on the recording of the CD „Zpívání o životě“, which was christened before the annual concert to the 50th anniversary of Ostravica „Obrázky životem malované“. Based on their performance at the concert, children received an invitation to the children´s program at the MFF Strážnice 2011. Irena Blablová and Libuše Kvašná were the ensemble´s choreographers and Martina Jakobová began to create musical arrangements. In 2012, Radek Jakob and Jakub Dvorský left the direction, so the older group of children merged with the younger one. A year later, it merged with the youngest group. Children trained the new dances under the direction of Škanderová – Slavíková – Dvorská with the cooperation of the head of adult band Martina Jakobová. In 2014, Small Ostravica won the 1st place in the category of folk ensembles of Polish-Czech amateur groups at the festival SAGA 2014 in the Polish town Kozy. We celebrated the 55th anniversary of Ostravica with the ensemble Valašský Vojvoda at a joint concert entitled „Už stě o tym slyšeli“. The second separate part – „Němajtě za zle, že zme pryšli k vam“ – was associated with the christening of a Christmas CD with the same title.
The Ostravica experienced a small earthquake when Monika Škanderová and Radek Jakob decided to end their long-term work in the ensemble. Two years later, Martina Jakobová also left the ensemble. Radka Jirsová took over the statutory leadership with the help of organizational leaders Marek Žižka, Martin Tuhovčák and Matěj Křiva. Eliška Zemanová began to help the artistic leaders. At the end of 2017, Veronika Slaná decided to establish a new cimbalom band of Small Ostravica, because it was very difficult to combine a time schedule with adult band. Small Ostravica celebrated its twenty-year existence with a concert called Christmas Fairy Tale in December 2016. In addition, the children danced at the Christmas Fair in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, at the Dobratice Fair, the Sweetsen Fest, in Velká Bystřice and other folklore events.
Small Ostravica performs not only in composed programs with the adult group Ostravica, but also individually. Every year, our little singers perform at the singing competition Zpěváček, where children always win some awards. Children perform with new choreographies created by Irena Blablová, Libuše Kvašná and Silvie Slavíková at children´s festivals.
Since 1997, adult dancers have organized a summer dance camp for children, where children not only learn new dances, but also enjoy the competitions, games and time spent with their friends.