Even though the first Slovak folklore group has had its beginning in the 1920’s in Thunder Bay, it came into its own at the start of the 1950s and has not looked back. Yes, there have been lean years where fewer numbers of Slovak Folklore groups existed, but overall, Canadians have been very receptive to Slovak Folklore. Today we Slovak Canadians can be very proud of our existing folklore troupes; be it in Montreal, Toronto, Welland, Windsor or Winnipeg. They are making all of us proud by spreading goodwill and a positive image to help differentiate Slovaks from the other 100+ Nationals living in Canada.
Canada, as a country, is very proud of its multicultural image both at home and abroad. This multicultural image is used as a selling point to new immigrants, it is used in tourism, and it serves to make Canada one of the top countries of choice in the world for anyone seeking a better life. Slovak folklore troupes have participated and sponsored in hundreds of festivals throughout the years and have kept the name Slovakia alive even when politically there was no country.
Today Canada is a country where almost 40% percent of all Canadians are not of French or English background. This tremendous pool of “other” nationals has fostered and allowed Slovak Canadians to preserve their culture in many ways,”Folklore” being one that has had the most enduring success and which today has resulted in over 6 Slovak Canadian Folklore groups being active.
Yes, historically, folklore has not been the predominant form of cultural presentation by Slovak Canadians. The genre of choice in the first half of this century for Slovak Canadians was theatre, poetry, choir music and other forms of culture being presented to Slovaks Canadian. As the Slovaks integrated more and more into the fabric of multicultural Canada, only folklore dance troupe presentations were able to transgress the cultural and language barriers and allowed itself to be presented equally well and on equal footing with any other cultural presentation in Canada. It is not that Slovak Theatre or Poetry are not on par with any other cultures equivalents of this genre, but in Canada, Slovak Canadians performing dance did not have to translate this genre so that it could be presented and understood.
No culture can remain an “island” in the sea of other Canadians and as more and more Slovaks integrated into Canadian way of life, Slovak folklore remained and thrived as other forms of Slovak culture have stagnated . Translated works ,Slovak plays or Slovak poetry (which were the predominant form of presentation in the first half of this century), lose most of their ‘magic’ once translated into English because now they have to compete with the works of the best plays or poetry that the English or French have to offer; or at least that is the feeling amongst Slovaks; while Slovak Folklore, which relies mostly on dance, has found its place and acceptable audiences in every corner of Canadian society.