Dance that Came from Within Ourselves
Since its establishment in 1948, the ensemble of folk dances and songs of Serbia features a rich artistic repertoire, high skills and professionalism. It nurtures choreographies from all Serbian countries. ”Kolo” is a discoverer, interpreter and keeper of heritage, but also its creative successors. It performed triumphantly in world’s most prestigious concert halls, from the ”Metropolitan” and ”Carnegie Hall” to ”Bolshoi Theatre” and the Sydney Opera House

By: Ruža Srbinović
Photographs: Ensemble ”Kolo” and Ruža Srbinović

To really know a people, one must learn about its dances. Traditional art shows unmistakably the spiritual and material folk culture. And kolo dance is a recognizable part of Serbian cultural identity. With its beauty and temperament it communicates numerous multi-layered messages. It is the most frequent form of dance in Serbian countries, and that is where the name of the ensemble of folk dances and songs of Serbia came from, a cultural institution that is preserving folk dances, music and customs from oblivion and is reviving them on stage – says Radojica Kuzmanović, director of Ensemble ”Kolo”. – This national ensemble has performed on all continents, but also in most prestigious concert halls around the world (in the Metropolitan, Palais de Chaillot, Carnegie Hall, Bolshoi Theatre, Sidney Opera...) Serbian national dances, costumes and music used to impress the audience, by establishing communication and love at first sight...
Since its establishment in 1948, ”Kolo” features a rich artistic repertoire and high professionalism. Namely, says director Kuzmanović, only the best performers have the privilege to be employed at the national ensemble. They must be excellent dancers, must sing well, must have good looks and posture, stage culture. ”The best dancers dance with their heads. Just like a painter would firs conceptualize his composition and then transfer it to the canvas, the dancers first see their step, and only then they dance. Legs are just an instrument.”
– We primarily like to dance. We are always trying to get into the essence, the core of a dance from particular region. When our dancers perform dances of Vlaška, they are trying to behave and think like Vlachs. It is a well known story that Vlachs used to wear spare traditional opanci shoes when they would go dancing, so that they would have a pair to go back home in, because one pair would be used up. That energy and passion, that fire, is what we have to show on stage – explains Kuzmanović.


– ”Kolo” interprets artistically national dances and songs – says Radojica Kuzmanović. – However, if we were observed by someone from Šumadija, that person must recognize in our program, in the dances from that region, the national performance and that dance should look familiar to them (regardless of the fact that nobody dances in that way).
Serbian people, says the first man of ”Kolo”, have an authentic and complex way of expressing themselves. The best dancers in villages used to create steps, then others would learn from them. During the next dance evening, they would perfect the step, or adorn it, and so we have several versions of the same kolo.
– In ”Kolo”, we are doing the same. We interpret national dances while preserving their authenticity and style, we shape their choreographies by respecting the laws of stage, we create artwork that brings together dance, music, song, costumes, national instruments, customs, stage. Well known choreographers, composers, ethnologists and other experts have participated in creating the artistic repertoire of Ensemble ”Kolo”. Our program includes choreographies from all areas, from all Serbian countries.
Radojica Kuzmanović dedicated his life to ”Kolo”. He was a dancer, choreographer, and he is now leading the national ensemble. He believes, he says, that beauty of life is in recognizing beauty. And he greased true beauty when he started dancing.
– My parents only wanted me to learn steps, and there, kolo has changed my life. I think that dance came from within me. When someone asks me where I am from, I say that I am from Mrčajevci, although I was not born there. But my roots are there – says director of Ensemble ”Kolo”. – Serbian kolo invokes the best in people. There are no solo parts in our dance. Kolo teaches us that we cannot be without others, it connects us and gives us strength, even power. Body language is the language of the soul; what the soul feels, the body speaks. Essentially, kolo is the beauty of Serbian soul.
He is eager to find a way how to make that beauty be recognized everywhere on the planet. TO ensure that Serbian music and dances are represented more with Serbian brands, in films, on the winning pedestals, so that one day, when they hear ”Moravac”, people would immediately know where that dance came from.


Beograd, Mitropolita Petra 8
011 276 31 44, 011 276 23 61


Live Pulse of the People
National Ensemble ”Kolo” is the restorer of heritage and keeper of the national treasure. It transfers messages from ancient times, revives and puts on stage Serbian songs, dances and props. For example, their costume shop is very rich and, in addition to practical value, it also has a great cultural value. Among others, urban Serbian costumes from Prizren at the end of the 19th century stand out for their beauty.
Although, because of this, many people call it a movable museum, what ”Kolo” is doing is not mere history, but live pulse of this people.


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