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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Three Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Izruchana

In a word, the Vlachs are the perfect Balkan citizens, able to preserve their culture without resorting to war or politics, violence, or dishonesty. (source unknown)

Today's post features different versions of the Bulgarian folk dance Izruchana, also known as Izruchanka. It is of Vlach origin from northwestern Bulgaria.

Video #1 shows the version of Izruchana most popular with folk dancers in North America, performed by a group from China.

According to the notes, this is a men's dance. In the video, there are both men and women in the line.

Video #2 uses the same music as Video #1.  This is a different choreography in the Vlach style (the name Izruchana is not mentioned in the title).  The group is Severnyatsite from the city of Pleven. The costumes are predominantly red and white, typical for northern Bulgaria.

Video #3 is another version of Izruchana, performed to different music. If you're a frequent reader of The Alien Diaries, you'll recognize the dancers.  The Dunav group from Jerusalem, Israel has many teaching videos, both on their website and on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Vlach Dances from Bulgaria and Serbia

Variations on a Vlaško Theme

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Sense of Déjà Vu, Part Three

How quickly the new and strange becomes old and familiar.
Garon Whited

Today's post features the ensemble Fluieras from Romania. What is really unusual about this video is that the group performs Bulgarian dances to what sounds, at first, like Romanian music. The tunes are Bulgarian, arranged for a Romanian folk orchestra. It reminds me of translation from one language to another.

The music starts with a caval (same as Bulgarian kaval) but you'll hear the difference when the orchestra plays violins, cimbalom, and accordion.

The costumes and the music are from the Shope region of Bulgaria.  The video begins with Shopsko Horo, Daichovo at 2:57,  Graovsko at 5:00. At 6:33 is the grand finale.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Mango Duende: Latin Rhythm with a Bulgarian Accent

Variations on a Theme by Petko Stainov: Rachenitsa goes to Guatemala

A Sense of Déjà Vu, Part One and Part Two

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Friday, August 25, 2017

A Sense of Déjà Vu: Part Two

Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time... I think I’ve forgotten this before.
Stephen Wright

Where have I seen this step before?

Today's post explores steps that are found in different dances (and the same steps can be the same in different countries) We'll explore this with the Macedonian Slide, Slaps and the Sway.

Video #1 is the dance Slavej Mi Peje.  There is an example of the Macedonian Slide and you can see it at 0:11.  It repeats a number of times until the end.

Here's another, more pronounced Macedonian Slide in Video #2.  The dance is Sadilo Mome. There's one at  0:22 and it's repeated a total of 11 times. The slide, along with the other steps, is a lot of movement to fit into a little over two minutes of music.

"Slaps" are often seen in dances from northwestern Bulgaria and neighboring Romania. Video #3 is Vidinsko Horo. You'll see the slaps at 0.08 and again at 1:24.

The link goes to the Yves Moreau choreography.  The Moreau choreography repeats the figures a different number of times, and the arm swinging occurs only in figure one and in the transition. These dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes perform in a competition, and there is more emphasis on swinging those arms.

Slaps also appear in the Romanian dance Trei Pazeste at 0:30 They are repeated a total of six times.  Trei Pazeste translates to "three steps" but I see more fours than threes in this dance.

Video #5 is Vlaški Sat from Serbia which features the sway in figures one and three. You can see it at 0:17 and it repeats four times. The sway and the slap are common to Vlach and Romanian dances. The slap is at  0:52, at the end of figure four, and also repeats.

Video #6 is Ciganko, a dance from northwestern Bulgaria.  The first sway is at 0:12 and repeats many times in this dance.

Do you recognize the voice of the singer?  It's Daniel Spasov, who is a folk musician and also co-hosts a folklore show on Bulgarian National Televison, Ide Nashenskata Musika.

You can see a performance of Ciganko by Daniel Spasov by clicking the first link below the video.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Romani Potpourri Two

Another dance that features the Macedonian Slide is Tropnalo Oro, one of the dances in A Family Resemblance: Theme and Variations

Vlach Dances from Bulgaria and Serbia

A Sense of  Déjà Vu, Part One

Note:  The Alien Diaries will be taking a break for several weeks.  Look for the next post in late September or early October.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

A Sense of Déjà Vu

It often happens that when you look at familiar things through someone else's eyes you see them as you have never seen them before.
John Mole

Today's post shows how the same music can be used for different dances. The musical arrangements are different but the tunes are similar. You get a sense of déjà vu.

Momino Horo  (Young Women's Dance) was featured on this blog about two years ago. Video #1 is the original, arranged by Yves Moreau using dance steps typical to the region of Lom in northwest Bulgaria. In Video #1, Yves also leads the dance.

Momino Horo is a "hybrid" dance.  From the beginning of the video until 2:07, the music sounds more Middle Eastern or Macedonian than Bulgarian. There are lesnoto steps that you usually see in dances from southwestern Bulgaria or Macedonia. After 2:07, the dance becomes pure Vlach, with stamps, shouts and the "penguin sway" step, also common to dances from Romania.

Pay attention to the music from 2:07 until the end, because you will hear it again in Video #2.

Video #2 is Vlashko Horo (not the one we know from Yves Moreau) that uses the same tune as Video #1 with different steps (recognizable as Vlach). Listen carefully at 0:13.

The group is a dance club from Pleven, Bulgaria.

Kasapsko Horo is another dance from northern Bulgaria.  It's not as fast as the dance in Video #2 but you can see the Vlach origins here, too.  The dancers do this slide from side to side that is common to dances in northwestern Bulgaria and southwestern Romania.  You'll see it at 0:53.

By the way this can be filed under Balkan Dances that are Often Confused because there is a Kasapsko Oro from Macedonia, and a different version of Kasapsko Horo from the Pirin region of Bulgaria.  Kasapsko is a butcher dance: the word has its origins in the Turkish word "kasap".

The music from the dance Sitno Vlashko sounds familiar. Why?  It's the tune from Kasapsko Horo. This is modern music in a modern setting, a shopping mall in Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused (the series)

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter M

Variations on a Vlaško Theme

The Butcher's Dance in Balkan Folklore

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dance Name Malapropisms

It's a proven fact that capital punishment is a known detergent against crime.
Archie Bunker

Archie Bunker was famous for his malapropisms. He was a fictional character in the show All in the Family. The show was so popular that it ran for eight seasons: 1971-1979.

The word "malapropism" originated from a character, Mrs. Malaprop, who often confused words that sounded similar (see quote above).

Sometimes, at dance, we intentionally (or unintentionally) mispronounce the names of dances.  The names have stuck and everyone knows which one we mean.

Video #1 is a folk dance from the Dobrogea region of Romania.  One of my friends calls it Dragon Dance.  Its real name is Dragaicuta.  The notes describe it as a "women's dance, done by friends of the bride, to mourn the loss of her in marriage."

I came up the name Rusty Nail for Rustemul because I practice dance in my basement.   I stepped on a rusty nail while doing Rustemul and the name stuck.  Fortunately the nail was lying on the floor so I wasn't hurt.  It was an annoyance more than anything else. Now I use the Shop Vac on the basement rug before dancing. It is my husband's work space and he fools around with tools and hardware when I'm not there.

Which region of Romania is this from?  The notes I found mentioned Muntenia, but the title on the video is "Rustemul din Oltenia." Both Muntenia and Oltenia are in southern Romania.

The name Nebesko Kolo sounds a lot like a popular brand of cookies here in the States (Nabisco). Nebesko means heavenly in Serbian and some people think Nabisco makes heavenly cookies.  Their most popular brand is the Oreo, which has many different varieties as you can see in this taste test video:

Back to Nebesko (Nabisco) Kolo.  We use different music for this dance, but the same choreography.

I'm not sure if this dance is from Serbia or Croatia, although I know there is a region in Serbia where tamburitza music is popular. The notes mention a country, Yugoslavia, that no longer exists. It broke up in 1991.

Horror From Veche is actually a souped-up version of Hora Veche an old dance for young people :) This group is fun to watch.  Listen carefully to what they say when they're dancing, it's quite funny. Too bad the video isn't closed captioned.

The goal here is not perfection, but fun.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Best of The Alien Diaries, 2010-2015

Folklore and Pop Culture (Again!)

Bulgarian Folklore and Pop Culture

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Kutsata

We need creativity in order to break free from the temporary structures that have been set up by a particular sequence of experience.
Edward de Bono

What I have found fascinating in the world of folk dance is the concept of "the different village."  In the "different village", the dance is performed in a different manner than the way we were taught. Choreography is not a static entity, and variations make it interesting and more challenging.

Today's dance variations are of Kutsata, from the Bulgarian region of Dobrudja. It is a rachenitsa (the national dance of Bulgaria) and in the time signature of 7/8 or 7/16 (depending on the speed).

Kutsata translates into "the cuckoo" in English via Google Translate. A lady on Facebook pointed out that Google Translate was incorrect; that the name of the dance is derived from kutsam (to limp). Thanks for the feedback!

The dances of Dobrudja are known for their "heaviness", stamps and strong arm movements.

Video #1 features dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes, accompanied by live music (accordion, tupan and gaida).

Video #2 is performed by the dance club 7/8. They named themselves after the time signature that is common to the folk dances rachenitsa, lesnoto, and chetvorno. The difference is the grouping of the beats; rachenitsa is apple-apple-pineapple; lesnoto and chetvorno are pineapple-apple-apple.

This is a different choreography from Video #1, to different music.

Video #3 is of a dance class practicing another version of Kutsata, with stamps, arm waving, and knee bends in true Dobrudjan style.

Video #4 is a dance related to Kutsata. The music is the same as in Video #1, but the dance is listed as Панделаж (Pandelas).

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa Part One, and Part Two

Povlekana is another rachenitsa from Dobrujda.

You can see another version of Pandelas here.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Добруджанска Рька

When I was doing preliminary research on this case, I remembered the story about Tlazolteotl.' [Mulder] glanced at the old archaeologist. 'Am I pronouncing it correctly? It sounds like I'm swallowing a turtle.'
Kevin J. Anderson

Today's post is about a very popular dance from Bulgaria.  If you requested this dance in Bulgaria the way it's pronounced in North America they would think it's a river in Dobrudja!  This is another example of confusion in the world of folk dance.

The reason the title above is in Cyrillic has to do with the difference between the Bulgarian words: râka, meaning "hand" and the word "reka" meaning river.  The "a" in râka sounds almost like a "u".

Today's post features four variations of the dance Dobrudjanksa Râka. Each one is done to different music.  Notice that all of them have strong arm and hand movements.

Video #1 is from the series "Teach Yourself Bulgarian Folk Dance." This is Râka in its most basic form, performed by dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes. The yellow head scarves on the women are typical for Dobrudja.

Video #2 is a variation popular in Bulgaria performed by the folk dance club 7/8.

Video #3 is the variation of  Dobrudjanksa Râka most popular with groups in North America. The ladies are members of the New Orleans International Folk Dancers.

Years ago Dobrudjanksa Râka used to be performed only by women. It has become an "equal opportunity dance" for a long time.  Men are allowed in the line, too :)

Version #4 is presented by the Bulgarian folk dance club Акцент (Accent).

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Trite Puti

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Povlekana

Some Equal Opportunity Folk Dances

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