The Members of Linđo

Sulejman Muratović (born in 1937 in Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina) gained his first serious dance experience as a student of economy while dancing in an amateur group of Lado Folklore Ensemble. He was also a cofounder of the Zagreb Koleda Folklore Ensemble. Upon arrival in Dubrovnik in 1964, as the first manager and cofounder of Linđo, he affirmed himself as an excellent pedagogue, choreographer, years-long director and artistic director of the Ensemble. He dedicated his entire professional career to Dubrovnik and its youth. At the very beginnings of Linđo, together with his wife Višnja (nee Vukmanić) Muratović, who was also a member of the Lado amateur dance group and a former member of Koleda, he persistently worked on creation of a recognisable Linđo identity.

He was constantly improving his professional knowledge and experience. He attended several times the School of Croatian Folklore, which was founded and managed in 1963 by dr. Ivan Ivančan. He acquired degrees in all four dance zones (Pannonian, Alpine, Adriatic and Dinaric). Travelling throughout the former Yugoslavia, he studied customs and dance elements and acquired authentic folk costumes, the beauty and value of which still amaze us. He made numerous choreographies, some of which include: Dubrovnik poskočica (leaping dance) Linđo – the dance of Dubrovnik coastal region, Bačka dances, Baranja dances, Valpovo dances, etc. He worked as an expert associate at the International Folklore Festival in Zagreb, under management of dr. Zvonimir Ljevaković, the founder of Zagreb School of Folklore. In addition to Linđo Folklore Ensemble, Sulejman Muratović, in the period from 1964 to 2010, largely contributed to development of traditional culture by successfully working and co-operating with folklore groups and cultural clubs in Slano, Dubrovnik Parish, Žrnovo, the folklore festivals in Metković and Zagreb. Celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Linđo in 2015 was also the fiftieth anniversary of his continuous work and diligence. Sulejman Muratović received many awards and acknowledgments, for example the Life Achievement Award of the City of Dubrovnik in 2001, as well as the Life Achievement Award of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County in 2014. Sulejman "Sule" Muratović always built friendly relationships with Linđo members, based on mutual trust, persistent work, respect and fairness, as testified by the Linđo members Jozo Serdarević, Kate Vukičević (nee Ševelj) and Anđelka "Seka" Laptalo (nee Grgurević):

"Sule came here with a lot of experience. Nothing could go without him, he was always here, from the very beginning. He always attended rehearsals and performances. He was our mother and our father. We visited him at his home, and Višnja, his wife, taught us girls to sing, and we spent time in their home to socialize and to learn. Višnja helped very much, when she was a girl she would come from Zagreb every weekend and taught us girls dancing steps and singing in the Music School. She was also a member of the Koleda ensemble."

"Everything just came together, a tourist offer, an ingenious man who came here, an organizer, a pedagogue and a professional. He in fact won us all, some came because Sule looked nice and because he was charming, he had a certain power, certain magnetism. And eventually they realised that dancing was nice, too. Others came because they enjoyed the company. To me, he was an inspiration, then and now, I learned a lot from him. I continued to dance. You know, I liked it. There were good dancers and bad dancers, but no one could be a star here. Every star was eliminated at once. What I mean is, we were a community, good and bad, but no one was a star. I was used to being late, but it was impossible to be late there. The most important thing was the unity, the power, the explosion of positive energy. Sule is a very good man, but he was very strict. Had was friendly with everyone, but no one could get too close to him, there was always a line and that was why he persisted. He was perpetuum mobile."

"I respect all generations, we were all young back then, all spirited, but the dancers today are just young. Sule was our father and our mother, I really give him credit for that. When he yelled, we were terrified (laughter), we feared him more than our school teachers. When he looked at you during performance, you momentarily made a misstep, out of respect and the fear not to make it, and then you did it. He was a great manager. There was no improvisation with him, everything had to be according to plan."

Tours, in addition to love for dance and song, were most certainly one of the main reasons for a large interest of children and young people to join Linđo. On tours, the members encountered other cultural clubs, other cultures, they exchanged experiences, established long-time friendships, followed trends and became citizens of the world. Linđo was a window to the world in the closed former country. The first tours, excursions, were to the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the first year after the formal establishment in 1966, Linđo dancers were invited to the Maggio Di Bari Festival in Bari, and then in 1967, as a reward for success of their tourist performances, Jadrolinija presented them with a cruise on the Mediterranean. About the first tour in the Bosnia in January 1966, when they visited Čapljina, Doboj and Teslić, and about the mutual competitive spirit – who would get the opportunity to travel, Jozo Serdarević, a Linđo member, recounts:

"True loves started to emerge. Some were already holding hands on the bus. But those first loves were very important, when you ride on the bus the whole night holding someone's hand, while it's snowing outside, it's really something special, the intimacy, the romance, the opportunity to sleep outside of your own house. True, you could also end up with a toothpaste up your nose. Such pranks were inevitable on these trips."

"And then competition appeared among the dancers, who danced better, who would travel where, who attended regularly. It was like an award for the efforts. So that made sense, we started to receive food allowance, attendances were recorded. It was also a way to be penalised: if you weren't there, if you failed to attend, you didn't receive food allowance. The discipline was top notch."

Kate Vukičević (nee Ševelj), Jozo Serdarević's dancing colleague, recounts her experiences during a trip to the ASTE congress in Athens, as well as a cruise on the Mediterranean:

"So, we were on a trip to Athens, and three days after the event, after the congress on which we performed, the ship came to Piraeus and we had a party. Then we got time off. Some parents complained that the children would be absent from school for too long, but Sule organised classes on the ship, and there was a teacher, Ms Marjana Hure, and some other teachers, and the classes were continuous. So there was a time for teaching, having fun and running around the ship. Oh, and we even went on a strike, because they served us only chicken meat. And then we organised the strike. We were banging with our plates downstairs, because we were in the lower part, below deck, as in Titanic. We would play around on this Titanic of ours, having fun on our own, whereas the big shots were on the above deck. We went mad, we didn’t consider it fair to be served chicken every single day. And then we banged the dishes, walking the hallways, all over the ship. It was nice to go out and look around, but when back on board there was that awful chicken again, it was terrible, with two leaves of lettuce. And they would talk about their captain's dinners, about this, about that, and nothing for us. And we succeeded, they changed the menu, made it a little better. The ship first went to Greece, than Istanbul, Beirut, Balbek, Cyprus, Rhodes. It was full of guests, we would perform, that was our award for performing the entire summer."

Linđo was a place of unforgettable social interactions, the first hidden glances and puppy loves, and later of marriages, the first one being that of Ivo and Nives Miloš. Being a member of Linđo carried a certain prestige, as well. Numerous members of Linđo are now respectable citizens and successful judges, lawyers, doctors, TV hosts, journalists, civil servants, successful entrepreneurs, musicians etc. And although some moved their lives or career elsewhere in the country or abroad, they come back to the City for every fifth anniversary to celebrate with other Linđo members the best days of their youth. With their hearts full of pride and warm melancholy, they recount their stories. Among public figures who were once members of Linđo were Ana Brbora Hum, Nino Bulić, Darija Mikulandra Žanetić, Dijana Roko, Srđan Gjivoja, Krešimir Macan, Krešimir Magdić etc. Since the very beginnings, special attention was dedicated to the youngest members, formerly called pioneers and youth groups. In 1975, Linđo won special award for distinctive artistic contribution at the 13th Musical Festival of Children and Youth of Croatia in Karlovac. The number of children grew each year, and based on the 1976 records, the mixed pioneers group from ages 6 to 14 had 100 members. After winning the award in 1975, in 1987, at the 25th Dance Festival of Children and Youth of the Federal Republic of Croatia in Metković, Linđo was awarded recognition for choreography of Konavle dances, choreographed by Sulejman Muratović. Since then to the prsent day, Linđo continued working with the youngest. Therefore, in 2011, a "Linđo Treasure" project was launched, which continues to gather the youngest, from ages 6 to 12, and by using modern pedagogic concepts – folklore games, dances and publications, such as a colouring book Linđovo blago – baština u bojama (eng. Linđo's treasure - heritage in colours), raises young generations and teaches them to love and live the Croatian traditional heritage. After education in "Linđo's Treasure", the youngest members upgrade to group D of the ensemble. Since the beginnings, Linđo held humanitarian performances to demonstrate its social sensitivity for the community to which it belonged. Among numerous humanitarian actions and performances, there was the one in 1967 for the Association for the Support of Mentally Insufficiently Developed Persons (MNRO), then in 1974 for the League against cancer, and the already traditional concert for the Association of the of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, held regularly since 2000 on the festivity of St. Lucia, the patron saint of the blind, at the Marin Držić Theatre. The concert was established in honour of a long-time Linđo member, Silvija Oršulić, as support to all blind persons in the County.

The folklore group, the predecessor of Linđo, consisted only of female dancers, whereas the male dancers were at first the conscripts from the Dubrovnik barracks – Kasarna. According to Đorđe Begu, a long-time member of the Ensemble, the first musicians who accompanied the folklore group were also members of the garrison, and shortly thereafter they started recruiting professional musicians from the Music School and the orchestra through Đelo Jusić. The first full-time dancers were Đorđe Begu, Jozo Šoletić, Vlaho Baničević, Antun Baničević (Crni), Felix Kamić, Dragan Elaković, Hikmet Gušalović, Aleks Vrtikapa,Taso Bjelogradski and Fikret Junuzović. With the first rehearser, the accordionist Stijepo Granada, who accompanied all dance rehearsals, the first performances were accompanied by musicians – Đelo Jusić, Marko Brešković, Pero Bošković, Jozo Ajduković, Duško Asić, Đino Putilli, Ivančica Krce and Đorđe Begu, who, after two years as a dancer, joined the musicians and acquired permanent employment. In addition to the mentioned, the ensemble was joined in the late 1960s and during the 1970s by other musicians: Krešo Skansi, Jakša Jurjević, Antun Simatović, Srđan Gjivoje (permanently employed musician), Arif Bairami, Špiro Veselinović, Radomir Tešanić, Đorđe Trkulja, Nikša Đurić, Marin Dujmić, Antun Kunić, Ivica Martinović, Miho Bulić, Tomislav Macan, Krešimir Macan, Matko Vierda, Marino Torić, and the Beno brothers. Thanks to the conductor of tamburica group of the Nikica Franić Elementary School, Mato Radović, Linđo was joined by many young men who made group B of the tamburica orchestra of the Ensemble. They were Krešimir Magdić, Miho Kristić, Tonko Nodilo, Milan Sentić and Branko Silić.

The only head of dance rehearsals and the choreographer up to 1970s was Sulejman Muratović. After 1970, from among excellent dancers, certain individuals affirmed themselves and therefore acquired the function of rehearsers and gained full employment. The first of them was Jozo Šoletić, followed by Momčilo Stojiljkovic, Antun Tonći Mratović. After them, the function of rehearser was taken by Mario Kristić, Jadran Radonić, Mateo Čanić, and Ivo Vlahušić.

Sulejman Muratović was the artistic director until 2016, when he was replaced by Krunoslav Šokac. From the beginnings of the Ensemble's activity to this day, musical directors were as follows: Antun Simatović, Krešimir Magdić, Edi Marčić, Đorđe Begu and Enes Omerčahić, and song directors were Miho Kalauz and Vedran Ivanković. Krešimir Magdić, a musician and a musical pedagogue, was permanently employed in 1978, and was the founder of the Linđo klapa, which operated as part of the Ensemble since 1979. The number of amateur musicians in the following years and after the Homeland War increased, so the musicians in the ensemble were Maro Bajurin, Tonči Baletić, Miho Bulić, Leo Čampara, Vinko Dragojević, Lukša Hansa, Tomislav Macan, Gordan Muratović, Branko Njirić, Neven Stjepović, Igor Surjan, Marina Torić, Matko Vierda and Alojz Lolo Žitnik. Newer generations of amateur musicians, who still perform, are Vedran Favro, Miro Jelačić, Antonijo Kondrić, Dario Lučić, Rikard Kužnin, Kristijan Mazić, Mario Mazić, Amar Omerčahić, Amel Omerčahić, Danijal Omerčahić, Tonči Jerko Vukušić, and others, and regularly employed are musicians Antonio Grdović, Nikša Pavlović, Mario Lale, Vedran Ivanković and Enes Omerčahić. Employed dance directors are Mario Kristić, Adriatic Radonić and Ivo Vlahušić. The care of keeping and protecting rich textile holdings and props was by cloak-room attendants. The first Linđo cloak-room attendant was Vice Grom, who previously worked at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, followed by Aleksa Vrtikapa, Mare Bolotin, and Đuro Grdović and Ana Šoletić, who retired in 2018. From 2013 to 2015, the business manager – the cloak-room assistant, was Đuro Miletić. In 2016, the care of the holdings and cloak rooms was taken on by Tajana Kera, a cloak-room attendant and a restorer, and in 2018 an ethnologist Marica Matuško was employed as the head of the holdings and folk costumes workshop. Of technical personnel, there was Živojin Žika Stanković, Antun Tonći Romanović, from 2015 to 2016 as a technical director – stage manager Đuro Miletić, replaced in 2016 by Tomislav Maleš. Nevenka Simović worked as a support staff until 2012, as a cleaning lady, and from 2015 it was Anita Nenada. Accounting manager for many years was Zdravko Rajević. As a marketing director, bookkeeper and cashier, Linđo employed in 2013 Stjepan Lazarević, who after 2015 became the office manager. A long-time employee of Linđo, Jasmina Raić, was a sales officer, a cashier and an administrator, and from 2013, after her retirement, Ivana Morović was employed first as a cloak-room assistant, then as a sales officer and an administrator, and later as a souvenir shop manager. Dubravka Sarić was employed as a professional assistant at the Director's office in 2014, and since 2016 she works as a sales manager. From 1965 to 1998, Sulejman Muratović was the director general of the Linđo Folklore Ensemble. After him, Linđo was managed by the following directors general: from 1999 to 2003 by Miho Kalauz, from 2003 to 2010 by Mirsad Omerčahić, from 2010 to 2011 by Miho Kalauz, from 2011 to 2014 by Dubravka Sarić, from 2014 to 2015 by Josipa Tabak Pavlović, from 2015 to 2017 by Anuška Matušić, and since 2017 by Vlaho Kljunak.