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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Kolo from Osijek

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.
Agnes de Mille

Today's video features the group HKUD Osijek 1862 singing and dancing a kolo to tamburitza music.  What is really cool is that they get practically the whole city to dance along with them in the square.

The cellist (Ana Rucner) is from the capital city of Zagreb.  Check out the instrument she plays (it's made of metal instead of wood).

Osijek is the fourth largest city in Croatia, and it's located in the Slavonija region of the country.  Slavonija is known for it's lively, upbeat music.  This city, along with Vukovar was damaged during the Croatian War for Independence in 1991 and a sizable number of lives were lost.

Tamburitza music is a staple of Croatian culture and the band in the video is a very fine example.  The dance is a Drmes, of which there are many versions from different regions and towns.  This one from Slavonija is one of my favorities.

If you enjoyed this you may also like The Flavors of Croatian Kolo

Dancing Through the Alphabet, Letter K.  In this post, K is for Kolo.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Macedonia: One Name, Three Countries

Words have meaning and names have power. ~Author unknown

Macedonia has been mentioned often in the news recently.  The Greeks are the most vocal about which country should claim the name: "Macedonia is Greek."

I refuse to take sides because I see no point in starting wars over the naming of countries. The Greeks don't like the idea of a separate Slavic country that uses the name "Macedonia." This country, capital Skopje, used to be a part of Yugoslavia, which split up in 1991. The United Nations, in order not to offend the Greeks, refers to the country as "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).  Most people refer to it simply as "Macedonia" or the Republic of Macedonia.

To complicate things further, there is a region in southwestern Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad Province, that goes by the name "Pirin Macedonia." When I listen to Radio Blagoevgrad's folk music program the announcers often refer to their region as "Macedonia."

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia are in the process of negotiating a name that would be agreeable with both countries.

Why isn't there the same conflict going on with the name "Thrace", another name that that appears on the maps of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey?  For that I have no answers.

The Bulgarian National Radio uses this distinction: Aegean Macedonia for Northern Greece, Vardar Macedonia for the Republic of Macedonia, and Pirin Macedonia for southwestern Bulgaria.

Today's post features dances from Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia.

Video #1 is Leventikos, (also known as Pusteno in Vardar Macedonia) a popular dance in Northern Greece. The dancers are from the Greek city of Edessa. Dances often cross borders; this is one of them.  There is another dance after Leventikos at 3:00: Nkainta.

Video #2 is Silent Dance from the Pirin region of Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad Province.) There is an accompaniment with kaval (open ended flute), and the coins on the women's costumes. Silent, it's not.

Video #3 is a children's group dancing Bufcansko from the Republic of Macedonia. This version has a bounciness to it. The girls really know their stuff.

The music is played by Pece Atanasovksi and his ensemble.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Fun and Easy Folk Dances from Macedonia

A Tribute to Lyubka Rondova

Lyubka Rondova was a Bulgarian refugee child uprooted from her village in Aegean Macedonia during the Greek Civil War. She passed away almost two years ago. She was best known for folk songs from the Pirin region of Bulgaria.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Bregovsko Horo

Today's post features two variations of the dance Bregovsko Horo. It is from the town of Bregovo in northwestern Bulgaria, near the borders of Romania and Serbia.  The dance is fast, in 2/4 and has Vlach and Serbian elements.  The flute solo (in Version #1 and Version #2sounds like a frula, a traditional Serbian musical instrument.

Our group calls Bregovsko the "One Figure Čačak".  Čačak is a dance from Serbia that has migrated across borders.  You can dance Sirba, a Romanian dance, to Čačak music!

Version #1 is the one more familiar to recreational folk dancers. The first time I heard it I thought it was Serbian!

Version #2 is the same music with a slight variation of the steps. The group is from Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.  If you check out their other videos, you will see they are also into English Country Dance, which is not my thing. I know a number of people who are into both Balkan dance as well as English country.

Version #3 is the same choreography as Version #1, to different music. I like the exuberance in this group. The dancers are from Sofia, Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

"The Flavors of Serbian Čačak"

Bring on the Border Crossers!

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

The 2018 New Year Post

There is something special when creative people get together.
Joy Mangano

Today's post features creative ideas used with the music to Diko Iliev's Dunavsko Horo.  It is a dance traditionally done at midnight to welcome in the New Year.

Video #1 is a flash mob of dancers in front of National Theater Ivan Vazov (Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright who lived from 1850-1921.)  It is a work of art by Rashev Photography: the dancers wear bright colors and arrange themselves in different formations.

Video #2 is an original arrangement of Dunavsko Horo. It uses the composer's music with some interesting variations. It is a blend of techno and traditional.

Happy New Year 2018!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on a Theme by Diko Iliev

Happy New Year 2014, Same Dance: Different Music

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance Florecica

In the range of music that we play - roughly 300 years' worth-there really are more similarities than differences.
Esa-Pekka Salonen

Today's post features two Florecica dances with different music and different choreography performed by a group of dancers from Boulder, Colorado.

Video #1 is the version familiar to most folk dancers, Florecica Olteneasca. The best description of it is a Sârba on steroids.  A Sârba is a Romanian folk dance related to the Bulgarian Pravo Horo and the Serbian Čačak. The dance is from the region of Oltenia in southern Romania.

The first part of the dance, which is relatively easy, consists of Sârba choreography (the spelling Sirba is also used).

This video took place at a Romanian festival in Boulder, Colorado, and the dancers are from the Hora Romaneasca dance group  The musical accompaniment for this dance is known by the politically incorrect name of Jew's Harp (drîmba is the name in Romanian). The other instrument is a kobza.

Video #2 is the same group performing Florecica #2.  Like the previous video you can hear the "chatter" in the background.  This is also a fast dance done in Sârba  rhythm, punctuated by shouts from the leader. The opposing lines at 0:52 remind me of a Bulgarian dance, Sitna Zborernka.

This version of Florecica is played on violins, cimbalom and panpipes.

If you enjoyed this you may also like The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

For more on Hora Romaneasca read: Romanian Folk Dance in the United States

To see an example of a dance with opposing lines:How To Stamp Out Your Frustrations and Relieve Stress

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Eurovision and Folklore

I do love brash pop music. It's fun.
Romey Madley Croft

I never knew of the Eurovision Song Contest until I moved to Germany. My friends had everyone over to watch the show, which took place Saturday night in early May.  It was a social event, something like the Super Bowl here in the States. We ate, drank and critiqued the songs. I remember it as a mix of mostly sappy love songs with a few humorous ones thrown into the mix.

Songs in a foreign language don't tend to go over well in the States, with few exceptions because people don't understand the lyrics.  In Europe, children in elementary school learn at least one foreign language so they grow up multilingual. In the United States, young people don't usually learn a second language until high school.

Today's theme is the use of Balkan folklore in Eurovision. The theme for the year 2017 was "Celebrating Diversity." I didn't find any good songs for 2017, but here are some from years past with a strong folklore flavor.

Video #1 is the Bulgarian entry for 2013, Samo Shampioni (Only Champions) by Elitsa and Stoyan.  Back in 2007 they had made it to fifth place with the song Voda (Water).

There are several folklore elements: the gaida player with the mask, the three women in the background with elaborate embroidered costumes, and Elitsa singing in the style of the Shope region.

This song placed 12th in the semi-finals; why I don't know.  I give it a "thumbs up" for energetic performance (at one point it looked like a duel of the drums) and the use of Bulgarian folk motifs.

The Serbian entry for 2010 features brass band music, which is very popular in Serbia.

Ovo je Balkan (this is Balkan) is the name of the song.  I detected a kolo rhythm at 1:14 and several times throughout the song.  This is a dynamic performance, a bit crazy and fun to watch.  You wouldn't know it from watching the performers, but this is a sexy love song.  It finished 13th in the finals.

Video #3 is the Eurovision entry from 2013: Alcohol is Free, from Greece.  During the intro, one of the musicians plays a tiny stringed instrument (tambouras), then all hell breaks loose after the drums and the trumpet play (at 0:41).

I found the lyrics in English translation (something always gets lost in translation) and what I got from them was a song about drunken sailors on a sea of whiskey (why not ouzo?) I give them points for a dynamic and fun presentation with the presence of Greek folklore. The band's name is Koza Mostra  (a play on Cosa Nostra, maybe?) This is definitely not a love song!

The song placed 6th in the finals.

The Croatian entry for Eurovision 2006 was Moja štikla, (My High Heel)  The dancing reminded me of the Greek Pentozali,  the choral singing is pure Croatian.harmony.

The singer, Severina, really stands out in her red dress (she tosses it at 2:20) and her passionate performance, along with her backup (wearing folk costumes) was a pleasure to watch.

This song placed 12th in the finals.  Maybe the judges and the audience just don't appreciate folklore and pop culture as much as I do.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Beethoven with a Bulgarian Accent; Mozart Goes Greek

Bits and Pieces: More Folklore and Pop Culture From the Universe of YouTube

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 14: Elenino Horo and Enino Horo

I always feel like people in general are much weirder and insane than anybody really wants to admit. How dare somebody watch anything and go, 'That's not real!' Go on the subway. For five minutes.
Max Greenfield

Today's name game is about two dances that sound similar: Elenino Horo, also known as Eleno Mome and Enino Horo.

Video #1 shows dancers on a subway (U-Bahn) station in Vienna, Austria. How they managed the volume and acoustics in a subway tunnel is a mystery to me, since I see no loudspeakers.  The dancers also timed this in between trains, just in case one of them fell off the platform...

Subways and subway stations are venues for artists and musicians, but you don't often see people dancing on subway platforms.  The bystanders act like this is totally normal. Anything goes in large cities.

There are other tunes used for this dance, also known as Eleno Mome and you can find lyrics on the site Songbook for Nearsighted People.

Video #2 is a performance by the group Faux Pas, at the Balkanalia Festival in Dresden, Germany. This Eleno Mome has lyrics (you can sing along if you want).   Elenino Horo can be done to many different tunes; there are versions by the Bulgarian accordionist Boris Karlov, and also brass renditions by the composer Diko Iliev.

These dancers stay in step a little better than the people in Video #1 (who may have had something to drink before dancing in the U-Bahn.)  I have to admit subway platforms are not ideal dance floors.

Video #3 is an amateur group from Bulgaria practicing Enino Horo in a studio. The music sounds similar to the song Ripni Kalinke.

The bagpipe in this piece is the kaba gaida, an instrument native to the Rhodope region of Bulgaria. The dance is a pravo variation from that area.

If you enjoyed this you may also like Balkan Dances that are Often Confused (there is a link that connects to the entire series).

If you like watching subway performers (they can be very entertaining!) check out the Bisserov sisters performing in the Sofia Metro: The Best of the Bisserov Sisters and Family.

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