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Monday, May 30, 2016

Another Folk Ensemble Named Horo

Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.
~John Wain

In the past I have featured folk ensembles named Horo.  Here is another group with that name from Kozloduy, Bulgaria.

The town of Kozloduy is best known as the place where Hristo Botev landed after hijacking the Austrian steamship Radetsky on his way to Bulgaria from Romania to organize an anti-Ottoman uprising. He was shot and killed on June 1, 1876 near Vratsa.

Hristo Botev was one of the key figures in the overthrow of Ottoman rule in his country, and is much revered by the Bulgarian people. He left a legacy of revolutionary poetry.

There is a replica of the Radetsky docked in Kozloduy,  now used as a museum ship. It houses memorabilia of Hristo Botev. The Austrian
shipping company destroyed the original Radetsky in 1924. Forty years later, a group of school children raised money to build a replica, to be used as a museum, which opened in 1966.

In video #1 the group dances on the deck of the Radetsky.  They wear dresses instead of traditional Bulgarian folk costumes. (How can they dance so well on those high heels?)  It looks like they're doing a dance from the northern folklore region; if anyone out there can name that dance, please post it in the comments section.



In video #2 the dancers remind me of bees in their yellow T-shirts and black pants.  The dance is Sitno Selsko za Poyas (za poyas means belt hold) from the Shope folklore region.  It's similar to another dance from that area: Graovsko Horo.



Video #3 is a medley of two dances: the Vlach Trei Pazeste and Sitno Selsko (same dance as the previous video.)

There is also a group of dances from Romania with the name Trei Pazeste; there are different variations depending on the town they originated.  The steps in Bulgarian Vlach dances are similar to dances in Romania.(See my post on Vidinsko Horo).

The ensemble is decked out again in yellow and black; in fancier costumes this time. If you want to skip the introduction and the logo, the dancing starts at 2:14.



If you enjoyed this, you may also like

Folk Ensembles Named After Dances

Folk Ensembles Named Horo

Orchestra Horo:  Modern Bulgarian Folk Songs, Traditional Rhythms

Hristo Botev, Poet and Revolutionary (short bio of Hristo Botev with links to his poetry and the story of the Radetsky.)

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Elitsa Stoyneva, a Young Bulgarian Folk Singer

Youth comes but once in a lifetime.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I had the pleasure of listening to Elitsa Stoyneva at Balkan Music Night in March in the Kefana, a space designed for performances.

She performed songs from different regions of Bulgaria.  In video #1 are two songs from the Rhodopes, a mountain area near Greece. The second song is Posteno Ludo i Mlado. It has a beautiful, haunting quality  that you can imagine echoing from the mountains.



Elitsa was pretty cool. She explained what the songs were about (one of them was quite funny; unfortunately I don't remember the name of the song, so I couldn't provide the video.) She even involved the audience in a song from the Shope region. The second and third songs in the video are an example of Shopi style singing, which  involves whooping and long notes (impossible for me to do but it was fun, anyway).

Here she performs with two singers from the United States. 

Elitsa is the woman on the left.  I actually got to meet her while we were dancing a rachenitsa later on in the evening.  Her English is excellent, tinged with a charming Bulgarian accent.  Since the music we were dancing to was so loud, I couldn't hear her very well, but from what I gathered, she wasn't familiar with the dance the way we do it here.  Different village, you know.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Singing Demystified

The Best of the Bisserov Sisters (and Family)

A Golden Record, Rhodope Folk Songs, and Valya Balkanska in Concert

Check out this blog on Bulgarian singing, written by an American named Martha Forsyth, who performs with Zdravets, a Boston based group.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dances I Would Like to See Revived

“Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”
William Cowper

What I find discouraging sometimes during the Friday and Sunday night dances is that most people request the same dances week after week. What's lacking sometimes is variety in the repertoire. That can be due to a number of factors: aging dancers (it is difficult to do certain dances if you have arthritis in the knees or hips); people leaving the group for whatever reason (relocations, graduations or retirement) and the dance gets lost when that person leaves. If you don't use it, you lose it and many dances are forgotten simply by not practicing.

Oftentimes leaders of dance groups bring home new dances from workshops. Some of them "take" and some of them don't.

Here is an example of a dance that was taught to the Sunday night group a number of years ago. I hope to revive it when I get proficient enough to teach it. It "fell through the cracks" and although it's on the master list, no one has requested it in years.

Video #1 is Celebinkso Horo from Bulgaria, Trakia region. It's not difficult; the trickiest part is the rhythm which is in 9/8.  The Daichovo and the Devetorka are also in nine, but Celebinsko Horo has the accent on beat two. Daichovo has the accent on the first beat, and Devetorka on beat four.

You can sing along to this as well, the lyrics are on the bottom of the screen.  I couldn't find a translation.



Video #2 is of a really challenging dance I found on YouTube recently, Gergebunarsko Horo.  I couldn't find notes for it anywhere. Fortunately a lady named Sonia Efron posted this dance because she had an interest in its preservation. Unfortunately, many dancers have aged and would probably have a problem with the steps, which are intricate, fast, and athletic.That is why we need more young people to come to folk dances!

At the beginning of the video, there's a performance with George, Sonia and Jeff, then an explanation and a teach by Sonia, and then the actual dance. By the way, this is one of the many variations of Pravo Horo.



Video #3 is Izruchana.  I don't recall ever doing this at a dance group or a workshop, but it's popular on YouTube.  There are a number of versions of this dance that can be found there with North Americans, Israelis, Bulgarians, and Chinese performing it.  Somehow our group never "got the memo." I would classify it as moderately difficult.

Izruchana is a Vlach dance from Northwestern Bulgaria.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing Through the Alphabet, Letter I (Chinese performance of Izruchana)

The Aging of the Folk Dance Population

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

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Monday, May 2, 2016

The "Flavors" of Bosnian Kolo

There is something particularly special and personal about the circle and how its curves comfortably rule every aspect of our lives.
Kat Lahr

Once upon a time there was a country called Yugoslavia. It broke apart in the 1990's during a series of ethnic and religious civil wars.  After the breakup it became six different entities, one of which was Bosnia.  Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, was reduced to a pile of rubble during the The Siege of Sarajevo , when the Serbian Army held the city for almost four years.

Barely ten years before Sarajevo had been the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics

Nowadays, Sarajevo is again a tourist attraction, although if you look closely you can see remnants of the war.

Today's post features kolos from Bosnia. Some are in circles and some are in lines.

Sarajevka Kolo, according to John Filcich in the video, was one of the original dances brought over by the immigrants in the 19th century.  The notes have it listed as a Serbian  because it originated with Serbs living in Bosnia, so this is a hybrid dance with dual nationality.   The recording, judging from the sound, is an old one.  Somehow the video got cut somewhere in the middle of the dance.



In the past, Balkan Music Night used to feature costumed folk dance ensembles in between bands. This video dates from 2010 and features a costumed group performing dances from Bosnia.

A commenter on YouTube had noticed that there were no guys dancing with the girls.  The reason is that Islam is the dominant religion in Bosnia (Eastern Orthodox and Catholicism rate second and third). In Islam, contact with the opposite gender is forbidden (except for family relationships).



Video #3 is another Bosnian kolo, with a group from Seattle, Washington.  There is no gender segregation here.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

The "Flavors" of Croatian Kolo

Hybrid Dances from the Balkans

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

The "Flavors" of Croatian Kolo

The description of right lines and circles, upon which geometry is founded, belongs to mechanics. Geometry does not teach us to draw these lines, but requires them to be drawn.
Isaac Newton

The kolo is a dance very popular in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. Kolo means "circle" or "wheel" and the dance is often done in a circle.

Today's post features kolos from Croatia, and as you will see, not all of them are circles. Some are done in lines, which are also geometric figures. It also depends on the number of dancers in the group.You usually need at least 5-6 people to do a circle dance.

Video #1 is the dance Slavonkso Kolo, from the Slavonia region of Croatia (not to be confused with Slovenia or Slovakia). The performers are the Dunav group from Vukovar.

The dance starts at 0:42 after a short slideshow of Vukovar.  In the video there are many dancers in folk costumes and a large tamburitza orchestra.  Tamburitza ensembles are very popular in Croatia (and all over the world - see Croatian Diaspora).

The dancers start in one large circle, then two circles, one male and one female. Afterwards, the circle breaks and the line goes into a "S" shape, into a a circle again, and finishes with a line. Geometry takes on some interesting forms in Croatia :)  Notice the squares on the floor!

There is a call and response in the song.  Listen for it at 1:18 and 2:24.



Video #2  is the dance song Nabrala je.  The lyrics are provided so you can sing along, and if you need a translation you can find one here (in German). It is about a young woman gathering strawberries and flowers for her sweetheart.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will recognize the Dunav group from Jerusalem, Israel.  There are a number of folk ensembles from the Balkans (or connected with Balkan music) named Dunav. The reason for this is that Dunav is the word for Danube, the River of Many Names in several Slavic languages.

There are two Balkan dance groups in Israel, the other is Balkanitsa.



Video #3 is Malo Kolo.  Since there are only two dancers, this one's in a line.  This is a more complicated dance than the previous two, with some fancy footwork, and it's accompanied by tamburitza music but no singing.  By the way, this is the Croatian version, there is also a dance with same name from Serbia.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Crazy Croatian Dance Songs

The River of Many Names Part Six: The Danube in Croatian Folk Songs

What's in a Name Part Two: Croatian Confusion

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused (Part Three)

Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.
George Santayana

Sometimes the subconscious plays some very strange tricks on the mind. I was at dance last Sunday and had requested Kopcheto when the dance I had in mind was Vrapcheto. The names sound alike enough to be confusing. They are totally different dances, one slow and easy, the other difficult and fast.

Video #1 is Vrapcheto,  from northern Bulgaria.  You can sing along to it, if you like. The song is about the Russians coming to Kotel.



Kopcheto was the dance I had written on the request list. It is a rather challenging and high energy dance, also from Bulgaria, that's similar to Gjusevska Rachenitsa. I don't think anyone else was prepared to lead it and certainly not I. The men in the video make it look easy.

I couldn't find any dance notes for this in English, which leads me to believe it is much more popular in Bulgaria than it is in the United States or Canada.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused: Part One and Part Two

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused (Part Two)

I had nothing to offer anybody except for my own confusion.
Jack Kerouac

A few months ago I wrote a post about confusion regarding Balkan dances with similar names.  This is the sequel, otherwise the first one would have been too long.

Video #1 is the very popular Jove Malaj Mome from Bulgaria. It has traveled around the world and has gone as far as China.  The lyrics describe a girl named Jova, who prefers the city guys from Sofia, and won't even look at the men from her village. She is way too good for them.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you've seen the "Bonding Folkdance Class." They have a large repertoire of dances and a high energy teacher.

The dance is in a compound rhythm 7/16 +11/16.  Many folk dance people happen to be good at math (but I'm not one of them).



Video #2 is a dance from Macedonia, Edno Maloj Mome (One Little Girl).  Many Macedonian and Bulgarian songs are in the 7/8 rhythm (pineapple-apple-apple). The dance usually done to this rhythm is lesnoto, but as you will see this one is a bit more complicated.



Before you can run, you have to learn to walk. Video #3 is a "plain vanilla" lesnoto. There are many variations of lesnoto;  this one is the easiest. It's basically walking in 7/8 rhythm while alternately lifting each foot. It is how Macedonians learned to walk when they were babies. This rhythm is ingrained in them in the womb.

The group dances to a medley of four songs: Oj ti pile, Zalna majka, Bitola moy roden krai, and Makedonsko Devojce.



Video #4 is of another dance from Macedonia, Lesnoto OroIt is a dressed up version of lesnoto.  Are you confused yet?

Lesnoto Oro starts slowly then speeds up, typical of Macedonian dances.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused, Part One

Dancing in Sevens, Part One (Bulgaria) and Part Two (Macedonia)

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