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Dikani Folk Ensemble celebrates its first decade

Numerous concerts, prestigious awards, thousands of kilometers traveled for concerts at home and abroad, and most importantly - a huge wealth of authentic folk songs and a collection of ancient costumes… This has been the path of development of the folklore ensemble of the Bulgarian village of Tsaratsovo. A path that the amateur performers are rightly proud of, because Dikani Ensemble has 10 years of history. Their first rehearsal took place on September 22, 2011 - the Day of Bulgarian Independence. Mostly women from the old group for authentic folklore at the community center "Dyado Ivan Arabadzhiyata" in the village were present. They were invited by Radoslav Ivanov, leader of the ensemble, singer and bagpiper. Radoslav has a major in conducting folk choirs and ensembles. Although he is a professional musician, he decided to dedicate himself to working with amateurs and has no regrets. Today, the members of the "Dikani" ensemble are about 60 and the concerts they stage always impress the audience.

"Tsaratsovo is the closest village to Plovdiv, located just 1-2 kilometers away,” Radoslav Ivanov says. “There is no depopulation, no unemployment, no empty houses, and people of several generations live here. That's why the ensemble is so big. We have a relatively large orchestra. Several girls who started with us at an early age are now studying at the Music School in Plovdiv and continue to participate in our activities. We have a female singing group, as well as a male one. We created it together with my father who is also part of the ensemble. This continuity is characteristic of our group as songs are passed down from generation to generation."

Radoslav searched for and recorded dozens of folk songs as a student and continues to do so to this day.

"Our repertoire is completely authentic," he adds. “We do not perform songs from other folklore areas, even from other villages nearby. I must clarify that most of the inhabitants of Tsaratsovo are from the village of Eleshnitsa, which was situated in the heart of Srednogorie region. When the Pyasachnik dam was built, people had to move and many of them settled in Tsaratsovo, but kept their traditions, songs, costumes.

That is why our folklore differs from that of the nearby settlements. We go on stage in authentic costumes. We also have a rich museum collection of antique clothing and household items. Members of the ensemble pay the expenses for our participation in concerts in Bulgaria and abroad. And we have had concerts not only in this country, but also in Italy, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Turkey and others."

Difficulties that would have stopped others turned out to be just another challenge for the Dikani amateurs and the ensemble’s leader. It is no coincidence that while we were speaking with them after their wonderful concert at the Kiten and Friends Festival, Radoslav mentioned the word love several times - love for folklore, music, performers. And here is what the oldest singer in the band - Bonka Kaleeva, 87 years old, who still works in a factory and does not miss a rehearsal or concert, says:

"I feel great. Singing brings me joy, life; it gives me strength. I'm always looking forward to going on stage. "

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library

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