Traditional Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic have a strong religious connotation. However, many of the customs connected with this season date back to pre-Christian days. This is especially true of the eastern part of the country. Moravia is a historically and culturally distinct region and this is reflected also in the way local people celebrate this most important Christian holiday of the year.
Czech choreographer and former dancer Jiří Kylián was inducted to the
prestigious French Academy of Fine Arts at a ceremony in Paris on
Kylián, who is 71, is only the third Czech to become a member of the Academy since its founding in 1816, along with musician Antonín Rejcha and painter Václav Brožík.
The great Czech choreographer is perhaps best known for his work with the Nederlands Dans Theatre in The Hague. As its artistic director, he created over 50 works for the company.
Craftsmen producing glass Christmas ornaments and resist block printing, who were nominated last year, are eagerly awaiting the decision of a special UNESCO committee that is to decide whether they will have the honour of being listed on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Meanwhile the country’s beer barrel coopers, bagpipers and chenille fabric producers are hoping to be nominated in the future.
The Trebbia foundation for artists and art benefactors will hand out its
annual awards at a ceremony in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle on Sunday
evening. The prize for lifetime achievement will go to Czech opera singer
Slovak photographer Zuzana Mináčová and Czech-born Darja Klimentová, former Prima Ballerina of English National Ballet, will be among the recipients of the award for creative activities.
The 30th edition of the Tanec Praha festival of dance began on Friday night
with a performance of East Shadow by the great Czech choreographer Jiří
Kylián at Prague’s Ponec theatre. Mr. Kylián, who is 71, was recently
made a member of the prestigious Académie francaise. He was involved in
the inception of Tanec Praha in the late 1980s.
Other highlights of this year’s edition of the festival include SUNNY by the Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat and Dancing Grandmothers by the Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn.
Burning witches on April 30-May 1 is an ancient pagan tradition which developed in various European countries including the Czech Republic. People believed witches were especially active on that night and that they flew above people’s heads and later trampled all the crops sown in the fields. That’s the reason why fires were lit with the express aim of burning the witches.
Many musical projects have noteworthy origin stories. But Dálava’s is truly one of a kind. Julia Úlehla and her musical and life partner Aram Bajakian began performing ancient Moravian folk songs – which they hadn’t heard – after happening upon them in a book named Živá píseň (Living Song). It had been compiled in the early 20th century by the former’s great-grandfather Vladimír Úlehla, a remarkable polymath.
The Czech Republic has a rather unusual tradition on Easter Monday. Boys get willow branches, braid them together into whips and decorate them with ribbons to whip girls with for luck and fertility. The word for this whip in Czech is pomlázka, which has also become the name of the tradition itself. To learn more about pomlázka I interviewed three Czechs. The first is a 17 year-old-girl with several brothers, the second is an active feminist and the third is an expert on Czech folklore.
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