Romany dancing launches Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month in Hackney

Yagori dance group in Dalston Square Pic: Shao Yu Teng

A Gypsy dance group performed last Saturday in Dalston Square to launch  Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, aimed at celebrating the culture of the largest ethnic minority community in Europe.

Yagori, a Gypsy dance school based in London, performed a Romany dance with live musicians and traditional singers.

According to Hackney Council, there are an estimated 300,000 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in Britain with a community of around 800 in Hackney including 400 children. The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities cover about 0.2 per cent of the population in Hackney.

Ethnic breakdown of Hackney’s population Source: ONS Census, 2011.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month began in 2008 to help raise awareness of these communities and offset negative stereotyping and prejudices. However, a study from the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups and Anglia Ruskin University in 2014 showed that nine out of ten UK Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children have experienced racial abuse.

Saeeda Kasym, a Romany Gypsy performer and teacher at Yagori dance school said: “Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month gives us the chance to come together and celebrate our wonderful community, bringing people together and introducing them to something new.”

Councillor Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Arts & Culture, said: “Hackney is proud to take part in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month again this year, it is a great way to celebrate the diversity of our borough and gives residents the chance to learn more about the rich history and thriving culture of our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.”

Besides the dancing performance from Yagori, Hackney libraries are hosting a colouring competition around the theme of dance and music throughout the month.

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