Once upon a time on one cold and snowy February evening, a small group of young Slovak people were warming up by the cup of tea. They were talking about practicing some songs for upcoming Easter. They had no idea that their small group will soon become a folklore ensemble named Veselica with more than 20 members. Some of them were already dancing back in the old country, Slovakia, and those took the lead to teach everyone else.
A little spark of enthusiasm became a big flame. A few more people gathered and we had our first practice on 23rdof April 1999. This is the date when Veselica celebrates its birthday. The home of Veselica became Slovak Athletic Association where we began rehearsing several times a week. On many occasions, United Moravian Societies and Klas Restaurant generously let us use their facilities for our rehearsals as well.
People from all corners of Slovakia living in Chicago area came together and started to work hard for their first performance on August 25th 1999 at Slovak Day Festival in Chicago. Donation from Slovak Liga made it possible for us to purchase our first costumes directly from Slovakia. The performance included dance “Do Šaflíka” (choreografy of Karol Purtza, SF Magura in Slovakia) and men’s and women’ songs accompanied by music. After this appearance, Veselica became a focal point of gatherings and celebrations for many Slovaks living in the area.
As the time progressed, Veselica attracted more and more members and started attending festivals and performing at both public and private events. One of the festivals Veselica attends regularly is Pierogi Fest in Whiting, IN. Here, Veselica met other Slovak ensembles from Cleveland, Detroit and Ontario, Canada and created new friendships. Veselica is known not only in Chicago area, but we were able to show our culture in other states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and other.
Today, Veselica has about 30 members; dancers, singers and its own cimbalom orchestra. Our repertoire covers multiple regions of Slovakia, such as Liptov, Spiš, Šariš, Zemplín, and Goral. Our passion for Slovak folklore motivated and interested younger generation and initiated the forming of the children’s folk ensemble Veselička.
Veselica practices every Monday at 7:00pm at Szarotka Restaurant, 8100 S Roberts Rd, Justice, IL 60458 and Friday at the Village Hall, 7500 S. Oketo Avenue, Bridgeview, IL 60455. The time and location changes frequently. Please contact us.