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Friday, June 23, 2017

Another Odds and Ends Post from the Universe of YouTube

The things that stand out are often the oddities.
Pierre Salinger

Every so often I like to do an "odds and ends" post.  They are best categorized under "miscellaneous" and feature something unique about Balkan folklore. There have been a number of them in the past (see links at bottom of page), but I have never made a numbered series of them.

Video #1 is best described as a jam session with Macedonian folk musicians.  They play traditional and modern instruments: tupan (drum), kaval (flute), accordion and guitars, and make beautiful music.

This is a medley of dance tunes in 7/16 (galloping-apple-apple): Ratevka and Sitna Lisa. Pay attention to the little girl at the lower left hand corner of the video at about 1:00.  She's got rhythm!

If you want to see the dances done to these melodies, please check out the posts listed at the bottom of the page.

Video #2  shows the group Formatsia Iliev from Bulgaria. The aerial views are fantastic. The scenery is surreal.

I don't know how all these musicians can fit in a small boat and not capsize. They are also boating in an area that looks like an obstacle course with dead trees sticking out of the water. The river is the Danube, River of Many Names (and many obstacles.) The rocks appear later in the video.

The video begins with a man fishing, and the musicians pop up and surprise him. The next scene takes place on the riverbank, with the guys playing an upbeat Bulgarian Vlach tune on accordions, clarinet, keyboard and drum.  Behind them is the obstacle course with sunken trees. At 2:15 and 3:35 a group of young female dancers in northern Bulgarian folk costumes appears.  At 2:58 the musicians are on a rocky shore at sunset.  It's best to watch the video in its entirety to get the full effect of weird. I would like to know where the really BIG rock came from.

At 4:05 the name of the town, Marten, appears and shortly after that the musicians leave in a donkey cart.

Although Marten is a small town numbering about 3,000 people, somehow I found it in English Wikipedia; it is not far from the large city of Ruse and was once a Roman fortification.  The town is also known for a large meteorite crater.

The name of the tune translates to Martenska Teaser.

This is one of the most unusual music videos I've ever seen and the music is great.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Macedonian Oro (includes Ratevka)

Dancing in Sevens, Part Two (includes Sitna Lisa)

The Alien Diaries Presents: Odds, Ends, Bits, Pieces and Even More Cool Stuff from the Universe of YouTube

More Odds and Ends from the Universe of YouTube

More Odds and Ends: Misconceptions About the Cyrillic Alphabet, Bagpipes, and Bulgarian Geography

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 13: Sandansko Horo and Strandzhanko Horo

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius.
Larry Leissner

At dance, there are many well-educated people. For some reason many folk dancers are into math and science. I don't know how many of them are geniuses, but if genius thrives in an atmosphere of confusion, I am in good company.

The never ending series on sound-alike dance confusion continues.

Video #1 is Sandansko Horo, named after the town of Sandanski, located in the Pirin region of Bulgaria.  This dance has a compound rhythm structure of 9/16 and 13/16.

If you listen to the music carefully, you will hear the kaval (open ended-flute) and the tambura (lute-like instrument popular in southwestern Bulgaria).

Remember last week's post with female dance leaders and skirts? The leader wears a skirt, but it's short enough for the other dancers to see her feet. I'm glad short skirt lady is leading and and not the woman third in line 😊.

Video #2 is Strandzhankso Horo from southern Bulgaria. The rhythm of this dance sounds like it's in 9/8, almost like a slow daichovo.  From what I've seen on YouTube, this dance is not performed outside Bulgaria. There are many amateur dance groups that perform in competitions all over Bulgaria and the video below is an example.

Strandzha is the region best known for Nestinari (fire dancers). They dance on coals on the feast day of Saints Constantine and Helen which falls on May 21st.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused (there are many!) Just follow the link in Part 12 which goes to the rest of the series.

On Female Dance Leaders and Long Skirts

The Balkan Buy One Get One Free Special: Dances in Compound Rhythms

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On Female Dance Leaders and Long Skirts

Long skirts are annoying; they get in the way.
Natalie Dormer

Folk dancing is a follow the leader thing. But if you can't see the feet, how do follow?   There is something about a long, flowing skirt that some people like; however, if a female with a long skirt leads a dance, it's hard to see her feet.

Today's post features leading ladies wearing skirts. The dances are easy ones from Serbia, and most people can pick them up by watching. What do you do if you're totally new to folk dancing? Or if you've been dancing a while and are not familiar with the dance?   Sometimes the best thing to do is follow behind and find someone wearing pants who knows what he or she is doing.

Video #1 is Raca, a Vlach dance from Serbia.  It's an easy dance that's easy to screw up if you don't pay attention, especially when it speeds up. It tends to go awry when people try to have a conversation while doing it. (Hint, the faster the music, the smaller the steps).

Notice how the lady third in line had to bend over to see what the leader was doing.

Video #2 is the dance Srbijanka. Leader and the woman behind her both wear long skirts. You have two choices: follow the third person in line or follow the man at the end. (He knows what he's doing, but that isn't always the case).

By the way, I never wear skirts at dances.  It's too cold in my area for most of the year, and in summer I prefer capri pants. I also wear colorful shoes, so when I lead, it's easier for people to see my feet.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Fun and Easy Folk Dances From Serbia

Stamp it Out: Vlach Dances From Serbia

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 12: Sirba Pe Loc and Hora Pe Loc

At one of the annual conventions of the American Society for Aesthetics much confusion arose when the Society for Anesthetics met at the same time in the same hotel.
Rudolf Arnheim

When it comes to the subject of similar names, do you sometimes get confused? It happens quite often at dances!

Do you know the difference between hora and sirba? Today's post features two Romanian dances with similar names. One is a hora, the other a sirba.

Hora is the generic name of a dance popular in Romania and Moldova. It can be easily confused with the Israeli dance of the same name, or the Bulgarian dance with a similar name (horo) or the Greek dance with a name almost like the Bulgarian (horon).

Are you confused yet?

Sirba (also spelled Sârbă) is a Romanian folk dance related in rhythm to Serbian Cacak and the fast Bulgarian Pravo Horo.  You can dance a fast pravo to a sirba or a cacak to a sirba.  They are pretty much interchangeable. During a live music night I (mistakenly) led a cacak to what the band listed as a sirba.  No one took offense to my confusion because the music went perfectly with the steps. Besides, Sirba means "Serb like." The Romanians borrowed the sirba from the Serbs!

Video #1 is Hora Pe Loc from Romania. Pe loc means "in place" Hora is usually done in a circle but it's impossible to make a circle with only four dancers.

Video #2 is Sirba Pe Loc is a dance from the region of Muntenia (southeastern Romania).  There are many variations of the sirba. Villages, towns and regions often have a sirba named after them.  It is a dance commonly done at weddings, when the guys get drunk and want to show off.  The women are too busy struggling to balance on their high heels. They usually have their own "heel friendly" line.

The dominant instruments in the music are the bagpipe and the cimbalom. Sirba Pe Loc is a favorite among international folk dance groups worldwide.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors of Romanian Sirba"

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

Balkan Dances That are Often Confused (the link will take you backwards to the entire series, starting with Part 11.)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 11: Kulsko Horo and Kulskoto

May the forces of evil be confused on the way to your house.
George Carlin

We know that dancing keeps evil forces away, and that confusion helps.  George Carlin was definitely on to something.  After you finish reading and dancing to this week's post check out some some of his comedy routines. (WARNING: do not listen to Carlin when there are small children around!)

Kulskoto is the dance also known as Arap.  There are a number of tunes for Arap, the best known is Zaiko Kokoraiko from Macedonia. Neveno Mome, a Bulgarian song, is also used, as well as Katerino Mome by Tatiana Sarbinska.  And then there's Kulskoto, a song and a dance without words.

Arap and its variations are popular in southwestern BulgariaMacedonia, and northern Greece.

Video #2 is Kulsko Horo, a dance from the Severnjashko (northwestern) region of Bulgaria. It is not to be confused with Kulskoto!

The Vlach people are a sizable minority in this part of Bulgaria, and their dances are known by their stampiness.  Kulsko Horo is from the town of Kula in the Vidin area.  Kula means "tower" and the tower is a leftover from a Roman fortress.  The Romans left structures all over Bulgaria which used to be a part of the Roman Empire.

The Vlachs were decendents of Romans who lived in the Balkans, and they settled all over the place, including Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece.

The version shown here is the one taught by Yves Moreau.

Video #3, which is Kulsko Horo Version #2, is a dance from the same region, but with different choreography and different music.  Are you confused yet?

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Three Variations of the Bulgarian/Macedonian Folk Dance: Arap

Vlach Dances from Bulgaria and Serbia

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused (link leads to entire series, going backwards, starting with Part 10.)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Balkan Dances that Are Often Confused Part 10: Cigansko Horo and Ciganko

I never want to confuse people or go over their heads.
Wiz Kalifa

Today's post involves two dances with sound-alike names, different music, and different choreographies.  It's enough to make anyone confused.

Video #1 is Cigansko Horo (translation: Gypsy Dance).  Gypsy is the politically incorrect term for Roma people,  The Roma do not use this word when referring to themselves. People used to think that the Roma were from Egypt. The word "gypsy" is a corruption of "Egyptian."

The Roma originally came from India and migrated west to Europe.There have been genetic and linguistic studies that traced their ancestry to the Indian Subcontinent. Roma people have made numerous contributions to Balkan music; two well-known examples are: Esma Redzepova, singer (who passed away last December) and Boris Karlov, accordionist.

Cigansko is a variation of the dance Chichovo Horo.  Chichovo is part of the Cocek family of dances popularized by Roma people in the Balkans. Are you confused yet?

Video #2 is the dance Ciganko.  If you are a frequent visitor to The Alien Diaries, you will recognize the voice of Daniel Spasov in the song. It is about a man hopelessly in love with a Roma woman. Spasov is a Bulgarian folk singer and a co-host (with Milen Ivanov) of the weekly program on Bulgarian TV: Ide Nashenskata Muzika, which features musicians and dancers from different folklore regions of Bulgaria.

The Sunday night group that I dance with has been working on this dance for a couple of months.  I think I finally have it memorized.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Romani Potpourri, Part Two   (one of the videos is the song Ciganko performed by Daniel Spasov. It's accompanied by a brass band and women in colorful costumes).

Here Comes the Brass Band! Modern Bulgarian Folk Songs with Daniel Spasov

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo

Follow this link to find the rest of the posts in the Confused Balkan Dances series.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part Nine : Sirba Din Cimpoi and Cimpoi

Men are like bagpipes. No sound comes from them until they're full.
Irish proverb

Bagpipes are popular all over Europe: Ireland, Scotland, and the Balkans. This week's post is part of the continuing (and possibly never ending) series: Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused.

Video #1 is Sirba din Cimpoi. Sirba is a very popular Romanian dance usually punctuated with shouts and stamps. Cimpoi is a bagpipe. Bagpipes and Sirba go very well together, especially when the bagpipes are well inflated with hot air :)

Although bagpipes are often associated with Bulgaria and Macedonia, where the instrument is called gaida; they are part of the folk music of Romania as well.

The choreography is by Mihai David (seen here in the video) and the one most popular with recreational folk dancers.

Video #2 is another variation of Sirba din Cimpoi.  The group is Tingluti from Copenhagen, Denmark. The in and out step with the arm swinging reminds me of a dance very popular in Bulgaria: Dunavsko Horo.

Video #3 is Cimpoi, a fast and furious dance played on (guess what?) a bagpipe.  The rhythm is 6/8.

I have noticed when the Dunav group posts a video, the number of people dancing indicates the difficulty. They are from Jerusalem in Israel and have an excellent web site, with downloadable music and video, as well as song lyrics, dance notes, and sheet music.

Yehuda and Mika, the dance experts, demonstrate Cimpoi.  

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

The series: Balkan Dances that are Often Confused:  this link leads to part eight, which in turn goes back to seven, six, five, just doesn't go to liftoff!

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