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About the project

Romania, 25th to 30th June 2018


Destination : a small village almost at the end of the world, where you'll need one travel day from Bucharest, by two trains, a bus and then a gypsy wagon. Welcome to Ceuas (pronounced Tchaywash). The best kept secret of Eastern Europe.

During five days (and five nights...) the aim of the festival is to offer guests the opportunity to discover, play and dance to a rromani music freshly taken out of life's water well.   


What a crazy idea at a time when "world music" festivals beat all audience records. In remote Ceuas, villagers just hope they can share with a few amateurs their unknown tradition. As they still cherish their "songs of the ancients" which are due to extinction under the monopole of commercial and industrial music. Today, indeed, the machines are more likely to be in charge of the numerous marriages in the area. Thus, the Roma musicians are obliged to put aside their violins in order to grasp a shovel and a spade and 'play' on agricultural farms.

Despite this pessimistic facts, the Ceuas people will not give up. Taking things in charge, they wanted to invent their own festival. But do not be fooled by the word. They will not have any stage, nor projectors. And not too much money either. Just enough to allow continuity of transmission to future generations.  

Thus, the Roma open their doors to Romanians and Westerners (the 'Gadje') who will have enough courage to share their every-day life, learn their music and improvise together. As the creator of the festival, Shanyika Mezei says, we need courage to play music and to forget that we're Roma or Romanian.

Shanyika already did the math : building dry toilets, extra showers, mattresses, food, salary for cooks and musicians. In conclusion : in order to see the daylight, this project needs a little help. Please support this humanitarian, exemplary, generous and visionary initiative, by donating 5€ or more. Your contribution will make the whole difference.

In return, you will receive a copy of the ongoing documentary film about Ceuas, an autographed photo, or even a personalised song played for you and sent on video by email.

Contributing is also the best way to be informed of the sequel of our adventure. As we will not stop to spread the love.


Movies about Roma are very successful. Reality is not. Why are they coming to Western Europe ? Because in the country where they are most present, Romania, they are seen as a sub-species, mean people that always end up doing something wrong. Rarely do Roma and 'Gadje' speak to each other and truly meet, in a peaceful environment. Most Romanians don't even know the history of this people, namely the slavery episode that ended just 160 years ago. Nomadic people, probably extracted by force from Northern India, vassals during the feudal period, decimated during the Second World War, sedentarised by force during the communist era, having therefore forgotten their crafts, and today despised for the resulting poverty. 

With this in mind, there is a great surprise to arrive in this remote Roma village, lost somewhere in Transylvania. Luminous people, a feeling of joy and great energy, colourful and neat houses, kindness and benevolence, but also three or four very poor families, a lot of dirty and clothesless children, trying their best to get something to eat. 

Why is it so ? Having given it a great deal of thought, we can say : ignorance, from many points of view. But the most urgent one, is Romanians' and also some Europeans' towards this culture. 

How can we fix it ? Little by little.

This festival is one possible way.    

The Rromani people from Ceuas, Romania, are carrying a unique musical tradition, which has even been the object of an ethnomusicology study (Filippo Bonini Baraldi - Tsiganes, musique et empathie). Yet, the musicians are witnessing a loss of interest in their skills and the perpetuation of extreme poverty and social exclusion of their community. The Ceaus Music Festival will bring a sustainable source of income to the whole community.

During the '80s, the musicians from this village were touring all over United-States and Japan, and spreading the sound of their vigorous violins that speaks directly to the heart. Sándor, young musician at the time, came back to the village with a bag full of cash, which he distributed freely. Hence a myth remained : where did all that money go ? Sándor's son, Shanyika, the current leader of the musicians, sees things with more pragmatic eyes. He want to create a regular and sustainable revenue, that the community can share by being directly involved.

If "Romanians don't like Tsiganes" (as Shanyika admits with a melancholic voice), the opposite is not true. Despite a widely shared prejudice, Romanians are very well received in this little medieval looking village. As are the many Westerners that ended up there (some as a result of Filippo Bonini's book).   


During the festival, all guests (musicians and dancers, professionals and beginners) will share houses with the Roma musicians in Ceuas. In the day time, there will be 4 hours of dance and music classes for those who want to practice their Rromani skills. This is also a great opportunity to see how tradition is taught, as it differs greatly from our common music classes. Sightseeing and cultural tours will be organised in the surroundings, by horse-driven wagon. An introduction class to Roma culture and language will be given for all those who are interested. During the evening, the Roma musicians and dancers will give shows where everyone is welcome to participate and improvise. The locations will change regularly and according to the weather between the village cultural center, the village plazas and individual garden spaces.  


Everyone knows how to dance and play some music, so everyone is welcome regardless of the expertise ! Wether guests want to participate or just observe, it's up to them, but here we do not make a difference between the performers and the public. 

According to the values of traditional music, this festival will not have any stage, projectors, sound system or backstage. Musicians, dancers and the public are all actors of the same space. This is, at our modest scale, a counter weight to the 'folklorization' of world music, back to a world where music and everyday life are one and the same. 

Should you wish to join us, please visit our website for further details. Due to the remote location, registration in advance is compulsory (the deadline is 25th May 2018).


The many children in the village will therefore see that their music is appreciated and that being a musician is a good way to earn a living.

The kids are already rehearsing for the festival. Let's make it worth it !

What are the funds for?


The most time consuming part was the website and the video. On their side, our Roma friends have started building extra showers and toilets in order to facilitate things for their future guests. They have enough space and Piroska, one of the organisers, has brought loads of mattresses from her charity connections. Guest accommodation will be basic, but the fun will be maximum. Prospective guests already know and love the place, that they discovered by themselves. We hope many others will come through this campaign. With your financial support, we will be able to insure better conditions both for the guests, and for the dance and music lessons. We are depending on you!


You think this would be perfect for European Funding? Not in Romania. At our great surprise, we found out that there is no subvention from the European Union that suits this project, even though it assembles so many aspects : humanitarian, anti-discriminatory, minority focused, cultural and economical growth in disadvantaged areas. In France, we've been told to seek in Romania. In Romania, the Ministry of European Funds told us that there is a suitable program, but the procedure is not settled yet, and we should follow the news. Since 10 years they still didn't manage ?

Never mind, we can make it without them. With your help.

Here are the numbers :


Ulule 3000€ - commission = 2760€; Participants' fee (min. 15 people) = 3750€


Amenities = 1500€; Accommodation = 375€; Food = 2000€; Cooks salary = 635€; Musicians salary = 1500€; Space rental = 500€; Communication, administration and organisation = pro bono

*** Should there be any surplus, it will be used to insure next year's edition.

About the project owner


In order to organise the festival, Sanyika asked for the help of his two friends : the Hungarian Piroska Darvas and the Romanian Alina Turco. In a country thorn apart by the triangular hatred between Romanians, Hungarians and Roma, this is an example of a beautiful friendship.   

Piroska Darvas, of Hungarian origin, is a religious nun of the « Congregația Surorilor Ajutatoare » order (Congregation of Helping Sisters). Her field of social action is directed toward discriminated minorities. She met the Ceuas musicians a few years ago and since then she supports their projects as much as possible. 

Sanyika Mezei, of Rromani origin, is chief of the Ceuas young musicians group, following his father Sándor Csanyi’s foot steps. The idea of this festival was his.

Alina Turco, of Romanian origin, studies anthropology in Paris and admires Rromani traditional music. She has over 10 years of experience in producing art, fashion, and humanitarian events. 

**Still and moving images were photographed by Horia Rusu and Razvan Dima. We are also looking for a producer in order to film a documentary about this experience. The purpose is the same : spreading knowledge about unknown beauty.**

Official website

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