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National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia LADO was founded in 1949 in Zagreb, SR Croatia, SFRY as a professional national ensemble. LADO represents the rich and diverse regional musical and choreographic traditions of Croatia. It has been called Croatia's most successful "cultural export product".
The ensemble consists of 37 dancers who also sing while they perform, and a group of 15 musicians who play traditional and classical instruments. Lado has had numerous famous Croatian ethnographers and choreographers, music arrangers, and folklorists work with them.
The Lado dance ensemble was founded on 11 November 1949 by Founding Artistic Director and Choreographer Zvonko Ljevaković, thanks in part to a grant from the government of the People's Republic of Croatia under the name Državni zbor narodnih plesova i pjesama (DZNPiP). Its mission was to find and collect samples of the rich Croatian music and dance traditions.
Throughout the years the Lado ensemble has won numerous national and international awards and competitions. In 1954 they won first place at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Great Britain. Afterwards, they won awards in various competitions in Zagreb and Cork, Ireland, as well as honorary awards from Santiago, Punta Arenas, Antofagasta, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and the key to the city of Cleveland.
- 2002 - Lado represented Europe at the sixth World Symposium on Choral Music in Minneapolis, United States.
- 2003 - Winners of the Orlando Award at the 54th annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
- 2004 - Winners of the Ivan Lukačić Award at the 34th annual Varaždin Baroque Evenings.
- 2006 - Winners of INA award for promoting Croatian culture