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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Dancing in Nines: Daichovo, Dzanguritsa and Svornato

Today's post features three dances from three different regions of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is Daichovo Horo.  It is a dance originally from northwestern Bulgaria, and the musical accompaniment to this is usually a brass band or an accordion.

The style is pure northern Bulgarian, with arm swinging, bounciness, and crossovers (typical of Vlach dances). The rhythm is in 9/16: quick-quick-quick-slow. The accent is on the first beat, although the fourth is the longest.  This variation uses some of the Zizaj Nane steps, but none of the calls.

What makes this particular daichovo interesting is the music:  It has a strong Macedonian accent. The most emphasized instrument is the tambura,  more typical of southwestern (Pirin) region and Northern Macedonia.  You can also hear gaida (in the introduction), kaval (at 1:20), and tambura (at 1:57).  The tupan keeps the rhythm going, although it's hard to hear it in the background.

The group, Gergiovden, is from Barcelona, in Catalonia (an autonomous province in Spain).  Bulgarian culture is alive and well in that part of the world.



Dzanguritsa is a dance from the Pirin region.  It is also in 9/16 and the same rhythm as Devetorka, but a totally different choreography. Rhythm is quick-quick-quick-slow. You can hear the tambura in the background in this piece, too. It's not as strong as in the previous video.



Video # 3 is Svornato Horo from the Rhodope region in southern Bulgaria.  The music is played on the kaba gaida.  The dance begins with the devetorka step and there is an up and down arm movement at the end of each sequence.



Video #4 is a more basic version of Svornato, and it's the one we use at our dances. It's nice to have a dance room in which to practice, but I don't know how this lady can stand that awful shade of pink.  It reminds me of Pepto Bismol.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens (the series)

Mandolins, Marimbas, and Bulgarian Folk Music


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Friday, November 23, 2018

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Svatba

Wedding Fever is one of the scariest diseases I've ever seen.
Jessica Valenti

Today's featured song is Svatba (сватба in Bulgarian Cyrillic).  It means "wedding" in English.  The singer  in Video #1 is   Nikolina Chakardakova who is best known for folk songs from the Pirin region of Bulgaria.

You can find the lyrics here, in Bulgarian.  I couldn't find a translation into English.

The tune is very catchy.  I would classify it as an earworm because it takes up residence in your head long after the song is over.  Musicians play the zurna during the introduction at 0:45 (an instrument loud enough to wake the dead and intimidate enemies.)  The Turks brought the zurna to the Balkans.  It didn't intimidate the people of the Pirin.  Instead, it became an important part of their folk music.

Check out the part at 4:33 where the singer stands on top of the drums, with the guys dancing around her.  She gives a really good show.  The costumed dancers are eye candy too.

I imagine Pirin weddings must have been loud enough to be heard in the next town, maybe even as far as Blagoevgrad.



Version #2 of Svatba is the one we learned during a Lee Otterholt workshop.  Not as fancy as the first one but it was fun.  The moves in Video #1 would have been too much for a bunch of weekend dancers.



If you enjoyed this you may also like: A Bulgarian New Year Celebration with Nikolina Charkadakova

What happens when 100 people play the zurna:
The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra

Today's post features an excellent group from Barcelona, Spain with a couple of Serbian musicians playing frula and accordion (in Video #1). They are the Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra. (Don't mind the weird typing but that is how they spell it.  It is on their logo, too.) The group's members are diverse as you can see on their web page; they are united in their love for Balkan music.

They do an excellent job playing the rhythms of the Balkans. At 3:48 the music sounds like a fast U Sest and at 4:55 the rhythm changes to kopanitsa then at 6:22 to a fast rachenitsa (apple-apple-pineapple). The singer and the tarambuka player are the rhythm section.



Video #2 is a dramatic performance of the popular song Makendonsko Devojce. This is the tune that we often use at the end of dance sessions. It is lesnoto, another rhythm grouped in sevens (pineapple-apple-apple).

At 1:45 the audience joins in with the refrain.  This repeats throughout the song.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Modern Versions of Traditional Macedonian Folk Songs

Dancing in Sevens

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dancing in Circles: Serbian Kolo on YouTube

The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.
John Hartford

Kolo is a dance from the countries which used to be part of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia. The literal translation of the word is "wheel" and kolo is often danced in a circle, but not always.  According to a tweet from UNESCO: "Kolo, traditional folk dance just inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Congratulations, #Serbia!"

Today's post features two kolo videos from Serbia and one from Canada.

Video #1 is a group of young people dancing in the street in Belgrade, Serbia. The group's name is Krsmanac. They perform a medley of dances that people who folk dance regularly will recognize. Two of them are U Šest and Čačak.



Video #2 took place during a halftime show at a basketball game in Toronto, Canada. Skip the intro and start at 1:00.  The dance that begins the medley resembles Bulgarian rachenitsa, apple-apple-pineapple, in 7/16 time. Čačak begins at 4:14.



Video #3 is Malo Kolo  (small circle dance) from Banat, from a festival that took place in Novi Sad in 2011. This dance is anything but small and it is not to be confused with another dance with the same name from Croatia.  This is a large group dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes. Check out the small circle in the middle of the crowd at 4:00.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

The "Flavors" of Serbian Cacak

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Tune: Bucimis

I'm attached to the beat. The beat speaks words. I love music.
Travis Scott

One of the most popular (and difficult) folk dances is Bucimis from the Thracian region of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is the melody and the dance we know and love.  It is short, only a minute and half long.



This tune has made the rounds in some musical circles (pardon the pun).  It is challenging to play because it's in 15/16.

Odd time signatures are very common in Balkan music.  This is the only dance I know of in 15.  Western musicians in general, have difficulty internalizing the rhythms because they are so used to music in 2's and 4's.

In the next two videos, the musicians have mastered the rhythm.  They also play it on instruments not usually used in Bulgarian folk music (except for accordion in Video #2, and tarambuka in Video #3).

Video #2 starts with a very long drum solo.  For some reason drummers have a field day with this piece. The melody, played on mandolin and accordion, starts at 2:50.



In video #3, a group that usually performs Middle Eastern and medieval music, plays Bucimis with violin, two recorders, drum, tarambuka, and oud.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Classical Musicians Play Balkan Folk Music

Mandolins, Marimbas, and Bulgarian Folk Music

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Golden Steps and Greek Blues

The nearer the dawn the darker the night.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I was at a Greek festival recently. One of the performing groups danced a Hasapiko. I didn't capture it on video because I ran out of space on my phone; but I did manage to take a picture of the dancers.


Hasapiko  was originally a dance performed by the butcher's guild in Greece.  The more modern form is also known as Sirtaki.

On the Universe of YouTube I found a superb rendition of Hasapiko performed by a couple to the beautiful song I Fili Mou Haramata (My Friends At The Break Of Dawn). The song blended so well with the dance that I had to share it.

The song itself is about a woman who wants to hide from everyone, including her friends, because of a relationship breakup.  They gather at her house at dawn, happy, with drinks in their hands.  She isn't having any of it.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Beethoven With a Bulgarian Accent; Mozart Goes Greek


The Butcher's Dance in Balkan Folklore

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Periniţa: A Romanian Wedding Dance

“Who wouldn't want to get married in a room full of love stories?”
Jen Campbell

Many of the dances on The Alien Diaries recently have been about weddings. Today's dance is Periniţa from the Romanian region of Muntenia It is pronounced "peritnitza." The dance is in sârba rhythm, a popular dance form in southern Romania similar to the Serbian Cacak or Bulgarian Pravo Horo.

The idea behind the dance is to "capture" a partner with a scarf. Both women and men can pick partners. They kiss after their turn at the dance and move on to find other partners until the music ends.



Periniţa can be done as a hora (group), couple or even as a threesome (1:44).  The threesome part reminds me of the Russian dance Troika. At 2:48 two couples kiss.  It's really sweet!


You can read the story behind the dance here.  It was a favorite of the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and under his regime it was the last dance at every party. It's still popular from what I've seen on YouTube.

Once you listen to Periniţa, it will live on in your head for days because it's a catchy, repetitive tune, also known as an earworm.


Here is another version of Periniţa performed at the wedding of Marius and Geana in Galati.



If you enjoyed this you will also like:

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

Romanian Wedding Videos from the Universe of YouTube

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.