Lakić dances along with her folk

Dressed in red knee socks, a mid-calf skirt, a white button down shirt, a red velvet apron and vest and shoes that resemble an elf’s, senior Tea Lakić stands on stage with 30 other dancers prepared to dance a Serbian Folk dance. A total of 500 people will either watch or perform at the coed performance. As the music begins, the dancers quickly move their feet precisely in various patterns. Throughout the entire dance, the performers hold hands and create different shapes on stage, keeping their upper bodies very still as their feet move to the music.

Lakić has been Serbian folk dancing for 12 years and started at the age of six. “My mom signed me up and that’s how it started,” Lakić said. “In Serbia, people don’t usually do the folk dancing. It’s kept in the villages in Serbia.”

Lakić practices in her group Holy Resurrection Soko. The season starts in September when they spend the first month reviewing and learning new dances, once a week. Starting in October, there are performances every Saturday and practices every Friday.

Even though practice can be competitive, there is a whole social aspect to Serbian dancing for Lakić that allows her to return to her cultural roots.  “[European households are] very different than American households, and sometimes it’s difficult for everyone to mesh into the American culture, so it’s a little group we can all turn to and actually understand each other,” Lakić said.

Occasionally, the group has to adjust to major changes.  Last year, her group doubled in size, making it 30 dancers.

“With 30 people in the group, it can be difficult to control just because people can be all over the place, and it takes longer to learn a dance because maybe one side of the group didn’t really understand it as much as the other side,” Lakić said.

With such a big group, it’s hard to incorporate everyone in the dance. Lakić stated sometimes they have to create other dances in order to fit everyone in.

Each week the dancers compete among themselves to decide who will dance in the front and who will dance in the back.  “Just competing with the rest of the people [to see] who’s the better dancer and who knows the steps better [is challenging],” Lakić said.
Lakić also meets people around the world through her group’s performances in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Canada, and around the Chicago area. They have been invited to perform in San Diego and Arizona. Although she and her group have traveled to many states, the ultimate goal is to be invited to Serbia to perform.