Linđo – ambassador of Croatian culture

From its establishment in 1950 to this day, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival has been an indispensable part of Dubrovnik's cultural history, and, by now, it has also become a distinguishing part of Dubrovnik's identity. With its rich programme featuring local and internationally recognised artists, actors and musicians, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival is the leading festival in Croatia.

As early as in 1954, greater attention was devoted to the planning of the musical part of the Festival's programme and in 1956 the Festival management recognised the need for creating a folklore ensemble which would complete the Festival's programme and make the tourist offer more attractive, as well as bring together young people with the aim of developing healthy habits and improving the representation of the country's folklore heritage. Nine years after its conception, this idea was revived and realised thanks to Marija – Beba Dujmović (née Napica) and the director of the concert department of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival Stijepo Stražičić. Selected as the distinguishing symbol of the newly-formed ensemble was a conceptual design, an emblem – the figure of a lijerica player sitting with his lijerica on one knee, by the renowned Dubrovnik academic graphic artist Ivo Grbić. Later on, this emblem was complemented by an illustration of a dance couple by the same author. No later than two years after its establishment, in 1967, Linđo took the stage for the first time at the Festival and held four concerts, its programme consisting of the Bunjevci wheel dances, the Banat momačko nadigravanje wheel dance, the Sava Basin dances, the Valpovo dances, the Rugova sword dance, the Shopi dances and dances from Serbia.

Ever since then, these two cultural institutions have been unbreakably linked by mutual trust and cooperation. Side by side with the big professional ensembles—Lado from Zagreb, Tanec from Skopje and Kolo from Belgrade—that also performed at the Festival, Linđo's performance brought freshness, youth and spontaneity. This is why Radio Zagreb's noted music critic Branko Šaula, in his article for Dubrovački vjesnik from August 1967, rightfully called Linđo the champion of the concept of authentic folklore, likening it to the National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia – Lado, but at the same time, referring to the secondary authenticity the former obtained through amateur activity. Šaula expressed his enthusiasm for Linđo's performance at the Festival already in the article's caption, dubbing it the fourth folklore power and predicting a bright future for it. Since he believed that Linđo's amateur vigour was the key to its uniqueness, which had to be “shielded from professional appetites and ambitions, as well as organised virtuosity“, he concluded: "Therefore, if Linđo remains an amateur ensemble, of course with due consideration and support which need to be provided to it, it will be preserved, and in its spontaneous and naive, folklore, guileless (to the maximum extent possible on the urban scene) style, it will perfect its skill of imparting folklore to urban audiences." The greatest number of performances as part of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival's programme—no less than twelve—was recorded by the Linđo folklore ensemble in 1981, while the total number of performances at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival given by Linđo from its founding is 308 (310). After its debut, Linđo performed at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival every year, except in 1991, due to war circumstances, and in 1995, due to the "Oluja" military campaign. Most performances were held in the Revelin fortress, whereas in 1986 and 1988 performances were held in Gradac Park, in 1987, at the tennis court in Lapad, in 1990, in Gospino polje, in 1992, in Kuna and Ston, in 1994, in front of the church of St. Blaise, in 1996 and 1997, in the atrium of the monastery of St. Clare, in 1999, in Držić Square, in 2000, in Gradac Park and Držić Square, in 2011, in Lazareti and in 2013, in Ruđer Bošković Square. Each time, Linđo left numerous foreign visitors and journalists with a deep impression and enthusiasm, while the memories that these visitors carried to their home countries were the most beautiful postcards of Dubrovnik and Croatia.

Apart from at home, Linđo was promoting Dubrovnik and Croatia throughout the world, whether at festivals, in concert performances, on tours or through engagements at tourism fairs and congresses. Linđo has a long history of successful cooperation with a large number of tourism organisations, such as tourist societies, the Tourism Office, the Tourism Development Fund, the Atlas travel agency, Yugotours, Bemex, the Jadrolinija shipping company, the JAT airline company, the Dubrava – Babin Kuk, Cavtat, Mlinis and Plat hotel management and tourism companies and others. Linđo has toured numerous countries and cities in Europe, as well as several cities in America, Australia and Japan. Linđo's first visit and public performance abroad was held in Bari, Italy in 1966. From 2 to 6 June, forty two members of Linđo stayed in Italy, and on 4 and 5 May, they performed at the Maggio di Bari festival in the famous Piazza Mercantile. The picturesque costumes they wore during the procession through the city streets and their stage performance thrilled the citizens of Bari and earned the Ensemble the first prize of the expert jury. Along with Linđo, performers from Yugoslavia in Bari included the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Budo Tomović Cultural Club from Podgorica and the Filip Devčić Railway Cultural Club from Split. In the following years, the festival changed its name to Fiera del Levante. In 1967, Linđo travelled to Italy to perform at the Wine Festival in Brindisi, during which trip they also visited Lecce. All members cherish the memory of a boat trip from Piraeus in Greece in October 1967, after their performance in Athens at the congress of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). The trip was organised by Jadrolinija in compensation for Linđo's tourist performances on board the cruise ship Jedinstvo. Back then, the Istra and Dalmacija ships sailed to the Far East, so after their performance in Athens, Linđo members boarded one of them (Piraeus, Beirut, Rhodes, Istanbul, Famagusta).

In 1968, a trip to Ravenna was organised, where Linđo was formally received by the city mayor and attended the ceremony of fraternisation between Dubrovnik and Ravenna, which was concluded in 1969 with the mayor of Ravenna’s return visit to Dubrovnik. That same year, Linđo participated at the International Folklore Festival in Monte San Angelo, where it won the first prize of the expert jury and the first prize of the audience and was awarded a golden medal by the president of the Italian Republic. That year (1969), Linđo also travelled to Rome on tour. Foreign-market cooperation with Yugotours involving promotion as part of tourism fairs began in 1970 on the travel markets of the Federal Republic of Germany (Essen) and Great Britain (London and Manchester). A trip to Rome was organised in the same year. At the 1971 International Folklore Festival in Middelkerke in Belgium, Linđo won first prize. The same year, they gave a guest performance at the Abrašević Meeting in Valjevo, Serbia, where they won a special prize for exceptional artistic achievement. In 1972, select Linđo dancers participated at the ASTA congress in Las Vegas, USA. On this occasion, they gave six performances in Las Vegas, St. Louis and New York. Of particular importance for Linđo is its participation at the International Wine Festival in Dijon, where the International Folklore Festival was part of the programme in 1973. The ensemble's exceptional success at the Festival was confirmed by their winning the gold medal—a golden necklace and a golden plaque.

This victory placed Linđo amongst the best European folklore ensembles. A music critic for the French paper Le Stamp wrote that it was "an ensemble that has reached perfection, while still remaining authentic". After this debut, Linđo visited France over the following years (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990 and 1996, with performances in Paris /World Tourism Exposition/, Dijon, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Brest, Rennes, Cannes, Bourg-en-Bresse, Montpellier, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Foix, Vichy, Annonay). In 1972, a promotional tour to Australia was organised. In 1973, in addition to the festival in Dijon, Linđo gave a guest performance at the International Folklore Festival in Valletta in Malta. As part of the programme held in the noted Manoel theatre in Valletta, Linđo performed alongside the Franz Marlot Folklore Ensemble from Ljubljana. Linđo also gave a guest performance in Malta in 1976, as part of its promotional tour. The Ensemble also prepared an occasional programme for the ASTA congress held in New York from 23 May to 1 June 1975. The cooperation with ASTA continued in 1981 with the performance in Mexico (Acapulco). Trips to Bled were traditional (those taken in 1975, 1984 and 1985 have been recorded), and apart from in Bled, Linđo also did a promotional tour in Bohinj and Ljubljana in 1982, where it performed at the Ohcet v Ljubljani folklore and tourism manifestation. Linđo participated in that manifestation in 1985, 1986, and 1988.

Linđo travelled to Italy (Florence) in 1976, to Venice in 1982 and to Trani in 1986. Especially attractive were the trips to the Canary Islands (Tenerife) in 1977, where 4000 visitors saw Linđo's performances. Linđo visited the Nordic countries of Finland and Sweden (Helsinki and Stockholm, Skansen) as part of its promotional tour in 1980. On this occasion, Linđo participated at the Folklore Festival in Kaustinen, where they received an award. The following year, 1983, Linđo went on a tour across the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Lelystad, Nijmegen, Appledore) and Austria (Vienna, Graz, Klagenfurt). During the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, the Linđo folklore ensemble held a concert under the title Dubrovnik Olimpijadi ("From Dubrovnik to the Olympics"). Twenty years of Linđo's activities were marked by concerts in Belgrade and Zagreb in 1986. In 1986, Linđo participated in the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in New York and in promotional tours across Italy and Great Britain (London). The trip to Germany was organised in 1989 and the one to England (London, WTO) in 1990, as well as on a few occasions before that. In 1991, just before the war, the members of Linđo held a concert in Osijek and toured Macedonia, and in 1992, they held a concert called Od srca dar. Dubrovnik Karlovcu ("A Gift from the Heart – From Dubrovnik to Karlovac") in Karlovac. The trips which marked the period after the Homeland War were mostly taken in Croatia, while the most notable ones abroad were those to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Austria, Spain and Japan in 1994, Hungary and Sweden in 1998, Italy in 1999, Germany in 2000, Slovenia in 2001, Argentina in 2002, USA (Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland and New York) in 2006, Austria and Greece in 2007 and Costa Rica in 2012.

The promotion of Croatian ethnographic and folklore heritage is the guiding principle of all the employees of the Linđo Folklore Ensemble. For this reason, apart from the development of musical and folklore repertoires and the folk costume repository, a lot of attention is dedicated to educational workshops, as well as to professional and scientific seminars and congresses. Amongst the first activities in this field were the planning, organisation and realisation of the International Interdisciplinary Scientific Symposium Croatian Folklore and Ethnographic Heritage in Light of the State of Dubrovnik and Global TourismFEB. The first symposium was held in 2011 and the following two were held in 2012 and 2013. Considering that the Linđo Folklore Ensemble promotes the intangible cultural heritage of the Republic of Croatia and is one of the initiators of the protection of the Dubrovnik poskočica Linđo, in 2013, the Ensemble and the City of Dubrovnik became members of the Inter-City Intangible Cultural Cooperation Network – ICCN, an association of cities which promotes intangible cultural heritage under the protection of the UNESCO. The Linđo Folklore Ensemble was also the protagonist of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as well as the host of the ICCN Dubrovnik 2013 convention held from 2 to 6 October. For the occasion, along with numerous other programmes and the cooperation with cultural clubs from the Dubrovnik area, Linđo organised the so far biggest performance of the Dubrovnik poskočica on Dubrovnik's main street, Stradun. It is also worth mentioning that, since 2012, the Linđo Folklore Ensemble holds the honorary title of IIPT Ambassador for Peace, which they obtained by signing a contract on cooperation with the IIPT – International Institute for Peace through Tourism in Vermont, USA.

Since 2011, Linđo has systematically developed its publishing activity and published works intended both for a broader audience and experts. These are the following: Knjiga sažetakaFEB 1 (“FEB 1 Summary Book”), 2011, Knjiga sažetakaFEB 2 (“FEB 2 Summary Book”), 2012, Folklorni ansambl Linđo (“Linđo Folklore Ensemble”), a bilingual promotional brochure, 2012, Knjiga sažetakaFEB 3 (“FEB 3 Summary Book”), 2013, Zbornik radova – FEB 2011 (“FEB 2011 Collection of Papers”), 2012, Zbornik radova – FEB 2012 (“FEB 2012 Collection of Papers”), 2013, Knjiga sažetaka ICCN – 10 godina Konvencije o zaštiti nematerijalne kulturne baštine ("ICCN – 10 years of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Summary Book”), 50 godina Folklornog ansambla Linđo ("50 Years of the Linđo Folklore Ensemble”) booklet, 2015 and children's colouring books Linđovo blago – baština u bojama, 2017 and The Linđo Treasure – Heritage in Hues, 2018.