Wrote about us

From the Roma settlement to Olympia

Veronika Šikulová, authoress | 22.07.2015 13:00

Grenoble, France. Awful heat. I switch the television on. Suddenly I hear Slovak language. The Franco – German TV station ARTE  broadcasts short documentary about Roma group Kesaj Tchave from Kežmarok, which had performance at the end of last year in Olympia in Paris.

A man, who knows something about the world of music, knows what this means, and also knows, that many artists failed to fulfill this dream. But Paris clapped to the rhytm of Ivan Akimov´s group Kesaj Tchave. They performed their art before the group Les Ogres de Barback and the French people accepted them with enthusiasm.

Arte has prepared a short reportage and interviews with performers and with their artistic director. Dancing kids from Slovak Roma settlements on the stage of Olympia. "Are you afraid? " Asks the boss. "No, we are not afraid." "You need to fear. Show how you shake your knees!" One of the boys shake his legs. "Everyone need to shake a little," says head of group, "we are in Olympia!"

Edith Piaf also came to Olympia “from the street". And now there were our Roma. We can be proud of them and we can be happy, that we have people like Ivan Akimov. Incidentally, the French appreciated Ivan Akimov´s work and they gave him a Order of the Knights. But, in his own country, no one is a prophet.

I was moved when I saw how he talks with the kids, walks through villages and looking for members of the group. I envied them such a sympathetic friend, who, instead of talking about so-called Roma issue, is doing something concrete. And unlike most, who say more than do more, he really do his job well! And you can hear about it!

I don´t want to say, that there are no problems, but I am bowing deeply in front of people who are in the field, teachers, social workers, who do beautiful work, have not even a word of recognition for it, but they still do their work. We can work with Troma, but at home majority always talk about negative examples .

We can find a successful Roma living in Slovakia, with diploma from university. But it seems that they are invisible. But we need to talk about successes! You should notice them more than setbacks and misunderstandings .

I searched on the Slovak internet for report about Kesaj Tchave in Paris, but I found only kind of ridiculous report in which was the “information”, that a group will perform in Greece (!) Olympia. I smiled.

I saw only a short part from the performance of Kesaj Tchave in Olympia on TV Arte, but I was amazed, because there was everything: beauty, passion, color, sadness, nostalgia, mischief, playfulness, pride and misery. Even the Roma culture, even Slovak and, thanks to Ivan Akimov, who has strong ties to the French cultural environment, also a little Frenc . They made a great performance in Olympia.

For group from Kežmarok and also for us, Slovaks, this meant the great leap forward. And thanks to the reportage, which I saw, will people from abroad know that in Slovakia we have people who don´t want to build walls and fence around the Roma settlements, but they, on the contrary , "demolish" these walls and fences.  They know that the hand is not only for hitting and threatening, but also for shaking of hands. Touches of cultures and their intersections are the most interesting.

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Whoever has seen Késaj Tchavé, a group of girls and boys who sing and dance under the baton of Ivan Akimov, will never forget them! The beauty of their performance is breathtaking. The show leaves you spellbound from the very start through to the end, and you’ll even stay under the spell of these performers when you leave. Through the voices of these children, we can feel the unspoken spirit of a world that cannot be allowed to die…
Le Dauphiné Libéré, 21. 08. 2008


Let your inner gypsy take over! Glorious spontaneity, Gypsy soul and simple and incredible joie de vivre can be found in all of their songs. Spend just two minutes in their company and your throat will close up and your heart will cry out, filled with intense emotion which is taking hold of you.

Ouest-France, 24. 08. 2005

The 25th annual Festival of World Dance and Music of Montignac came to a close last night.
One of the most memorable moments was certainly the Saturday night show performed by the Slovakian ensemble Kesaj Tchavé, which is made up of about twenty Gypsy children and adolescents, all of whom are street children. A pure and simple moment of joy.
Sud-Ouest, 1. 08. 2005


The Slovakian group Kesaj Tchavé is proof that street children can become animals on stage. A huge wave of Rom energy can be felt, constantly switching between sadness and jubilation and washing over the audience, which was soon won over by the group’s energy.
Télégramme de Brest, 22. 08. 2005


When the members of the public, filled with emotion, applaud the extraordinary performance of the children from Kežmarok, they do not realise that for these children, dancing and singing are a bridge to normal life. All of the members of the ensemble live together in a house, where they learn to live a different kind of life.
Korzár, 27 April 2004