Photos from an ongoing street photography series that explores how Moscow's past and present come together in a variety of diverse and sometimes contradictory ways to give this post-communist city of more than 13 million its distinct look and feel. 

Photos from a week backstage with performers at Khamoro 2019, the world's largest Gypsy/Roma music festival that is held annually in Prague, Czech Republic. Featured are Romengo & Juan De Lerida, which blends traditional Hungarian Gypsy music with flamenco, Ehali Cygane of Russia, 3000... DeSCencias of Spain, NS Beges of Serbia, Slovak cimbalom band of Ivan Herak and Fanfare Ciocarlia, the world's fastest Gypsy brass band, of Romania. 

For 20 years now, six contestants from the Czech Republic and six from Slovakia compete in this annual all-Gypsy/Roma beauty pageant that aims to showcase both the beauty and culture of this marginalized and often discriminated ethnic minority.  This photo series follows contestants during the 2017 finals. 

At a time of smart phones, social networks and online dating, ballroom dancing courses for teenagers, a uniquely Central European tradition going back more than a century, seem like a curious anachronism with their formal evening wear and, at times, military-style regimentation. Yet every fall and winter, these courses boast a huge attendance all over the Czech Republic – with as many as 40 percent of all high school students, aged 15 to 17, participating.

Every month or so, a small Protestant church in Prague, Czech Republic, is home to a Gypsy/Roma-Czech mass, a religious service where Gypsies are not only welcome by the majority population but that also incorporates elements of their culture and spirituality. Each service is different, but all are informal affairs where preaching takes the form of a dialogue and where Gypsy singing and dancing supplements traditional church liturgy. 

As far as battles of the Thirty Year's War go, the 1620 defeat of 15,000 Bohemians on the White Mountain by the combined forces of Emperor Ferdinand II and the German Catholic League is remembered with particular bitterness in the Czech Republic as it brought forced recatholization of the Czech lands and a decline for both Czech-speaking aristocracy and Czech language for several centuries to come. Yet, the battle is reenacted yearly at the original battle site, which today is part of Prague. 

Majorettes are baton twirlers whose performances often feature dance, movement and gymnastics. Traditionally, they march with bands during parades, but in the Czech Republic they also compete in regional and national competitions – in a variety of disciplines that include marching in formation, baton twirling and cheer-leading. 

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Tel: +420 603 416 225  I  Email: jstojaspal@gmail.com  

(c) Jan Stojaspal Photography