Macedonian Dance

' There is a large Macedonian community in Wollongong concentrated around Port Kembla, Warrawong and more recently Barrack Heights.

'You gravitate towards your own people. You live with your people, you shop with your people, you go to your own activities and that's celebrations. I pity the ones who have no support from their community here.

Our first celebrations in Wollongong were mainly men only, who often lived in one house, sponsored each other to emigrate, went guarantor for bank loans and helped each other with employment.

All Macedonian celebrations need to have the oro - the traditional Macedonian dance. The older generation has that rhythm in the blood. Our girls go to folk dancing. They said, 'We want to join, we want to be wogs.' Mendo

'When they get that little bit older, like 17, they don't want to go, because it's not cool. But it looks nice when they are all the same height and dress the same, and they just move in a row, in a circle...' Elena

The oro has many forms and is usually accompanied by songs. The songs tell of the joys and sorrows of village life: the beauty of a young girl or a boy's sadness at losing his mother. The oro is often performed in a semi-circle and can consist of fast, very complex steps that change directions several times.

Mendo and Elena's children, Nikolina and Sofija, at folk dancing at Barrack Heights Primary School. This dance group, now called 11 October after Macedonia's day of liberation in 1944, has existed for about 20 years. They are currently learning four dances that date back at least five generations. They learn special dances for weddings that are performed in a circle holding hands.