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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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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Paradise of Lemon Trees

There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another.
Frank Zappa

Today's post features a dance created from the beautiful Greek song Tou Paradiso Lemonia. One of the dancers from the Sunday night group in Wethersfield introduced it last year.  It's a very catchy melody in 7/8 rhythm (pineapple-apple-apple).

The leader in the video is Murray Spiegel; the group is the Morristown Folk Dancers from New Jersey.



Below are the lyrics in English translation provided by Danai Kyriakou, via YouTube. It's a tragic song about lost love; it probably would make more sense in the original language; something always gets lost in translation.

The singer's name is Pantelis Thalassinos. You can find his songs on YouTube.

This was the best translation I could find (Google Translate didn't work well).

Lemon tree of paradise
a twig of oblivion
Keep for me too
keep for me too
For I have two years in my throat a tired sigh
And lips locked up, and lips locked up
My body filled with myrrh and fragrances
that wake the hearts my good lemon
That wake the hearts my good lemon that stop the pain
Send me your white blossom with its aromas before I fall and wither in other bodies
Before I fall and wither in other bodies before I enter into the third year
Lemon tree of paradise hide the clothes of the murderer
Into the closet of bitterness Into the closet of bitterness
the bloody waters so to get again my wings
That love has broken that love has broken
My body filled with myrrh and fragrances that wake the hearts my good lemon
That wake the hearts my good lemon that stop the pain
Send me your white blossom with its aromas before I fall and wither in other bodies
Before I fall and wither in other bodies
before I enter into the third year before I enter into the third year

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Sometimes Lost in Translation: Bulgarian Proverbs

Fun and Easy Folk Dances From Greece

Tragic love songs are definitely multicultural. This post features several from Bulgaria: Beli Dunav, Part Two: Danube Blues

The Alien Diaries will be taking a break for about two weeks.  There are over 350 posts, you can enjoy them during your summer vacation!

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Three variations on the Romanian/Moldovan Folk Dance Ciobanasul

I'm a shepherd, not a sheep, and I've always prided myself on being a leader and not a follower.
Dustin Diamond

Today's  post features Ciobanasul (Shepherd's Dance).  I found three versions of it on YouTube that caught my attention.

Video #1 had me a bit confused. That seems to be a common occurrence on The Alien Diaries, where confusion rules the world of folk dance. This dance is listed as from Romania, but the description on YouTube mentions that this is a dance from Moldova.  Moldova and Romania are different countries, although the official language is the same for both: Romanian.  There are also similarities in music and dance styles.

To add even more to the confusion, there is a province in Romania named Moldova/Moldavia. It borders the country of Moldova.

The first figure looks like a part of the Chicken Dance. It is repeated several times in the dance.



Video #2 is a different version of Ciobanasul to different music,  performed by a school group dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes.  They perform it as a line dance (dances from Romania and Moldova are usually done in a circle).



Video #3 is  Ciobanasul performed as a couple dance (it becomes a circle at 2:38). This group is from Bacau in Romania.  What is really cool is to see all these young people performing folk dances and continuing the traditions.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bring on the Kids

Hopa Trop: Children's Ensemble from Seattle, Washington

The Different "Flavors" of the Romanian Folk Dance: Alunelul

If you want confusion, check out the series: Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused. It starts with the most recent post. The others can be accessed from there.

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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 unique 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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