Both nights at Good Shepherd School, 620 Isham (near 207th St. and Broadway), Manhattan
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IN THE CENTER OF THE VILLAGE...
Throughout the Balkans, the village center is the focus of community life, the place where bands set up and young and old, male and female, join hands to dance. By sponsoring the Golden Festival, Zlatne Uste provides the center to a village extending across the United States, one connected--whether by family background or by sheer love-- to the vibrant cultural traditions of the Balkans.
The celebration begins Friday night at Good Shepherd School, 620 Isham (near 207th St. and Broadway) in Manhattan, with a dance workshop from 7:30-9:00. Many of the dances featured throughout the weekend will be taught. It continues that evening with a dance party until midnight to live music provided by Zlatne Uste and friends.
The party resumes on Saturday evening at Good Shepherd School, 620 Isham (near 207th St. and Broadway) in Manhattan, as a swirling three-room dance commences. It doesn't stop until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Like fairs in the Balkans, the party has a carnival atmosphere, with regional refreshments, simultaneous programming, and hours of dancing. Dancers and musicians, both American- and European-born, return year after year to share and create the overflowing energy. Music from other traditions as well--from Norwegian to Klezmer to Slovak --often adds to the festivities. Beginners are welcome on both evenings.
Zlatne Uste is an internationally known group of American-born musicians playing traditional music of the Balkans, particularly Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Romany (Gypsy) traditions. Four-time invited guest at the Dragachevo Brass Festival in Gucha, Serbia, the 8 to 12-piece band is among the foremost presenters of traditional Balkan dance music in the United States. Its second album, No Strings Attached, can be heard on Rounder Records.
Come join the circle! In the center of the village, a band is playing. Or ten...Or twenty....
There's a new bridge in Mostar now, crossing the Neretva next to the fragments of the timeless monument shattered by war. It's a humble replacement, a mere footbridge, but it's passable and it links the two sides.
In the midst of a fragile peace, such tender filaments of hope are springing up across Bosnia-Hercegovina. Voices for peace and reconciliation are sounding more clearly. Communities, local agencies, and outside agencies are working together to dig out from the rubble. The healing has begun.
Stories of multiethnic humanity are starting to emerge, stories drowned out for too long by the drums of nationalism and the clank of armaments. A farmer saved a baby from "the other side" with daily gifts of milk. Local heroes who defied inhumane orders, neighbors who acted like neighbors.
As we gather for this year's Golden Festival we look for ways to help rebuild bridges. The profits from the festival will go directly to relief groups, including the International Rescue Committee. Some of us have found ways to devote time and energy to related causes.
The bridges to the region's future are fragile, but they are rooted in humanity and faith on all sides. Zlatne Uste wishes a new year of peace to all our friends in the Former Yugoslavia.
Written by Jerry Kisslinger