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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter K

Blessed are they who go around in circles for they shall be known as wheels.
source unknown 

Today's post features two kolos from Croatia that begin with the letter K, and a mystery kolo from Balkan Music Night 2011.

A kolo is a dance usually performed in a circle and sometimes in a line. In Croatia, they're done in a circle, using a hand hold, front basket hold, or back basket hold. The Croatian kolo is usually accompanied by tamburitza music, singing, and sometimes both.

Croatia was once a part of the multi-ethnic multi-cultural nation of Yugoslavia, which, surprisingly, stayed together for nearly fifty years. Yugoslavia broke up after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 and became like Humpty Dumpty. Once it fell apart, it never got back together. Croatia declared independence in 1991; it has been its own entity ever since.

The first video is of the Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel performing Krici, Krici, Ticek (Chirp, Chirp Little Bird).  The lyrics are provided so you can sing along :) It's moderately fast, and the dancers use a back basket hold. If you watch them closely, they resemble a wheel, going round.

The next video took place at a New Year's Eve party at a restaurant in Australia in 2009 The dance is Kukunjesce Kolo. The music, played by a tamburitza orchestra, is loud enough to way the dead! The crawling baby (at 4:56) wants to get into the act, too.

This video goes back four years, to Balkan Music Night 2011. It was quite late and by that time everyone was high on endorphins from all that dancing.  The group Padjashi was finishing up a medley of Croatian folk songs and so far no one was kolo-ed out.

Notice the way the line flows around the room and then ends in a circle. Does anyone know the name of this dance or the music that goes with it? If you do, please post it in the "comments" section.

This weeks bonus video is a lesson on How to be a Croatian.. It focuses on important skills like cooking from scratch, preparing the house for guests and loading them up on leftovers when they leave. Oh. and don't leave the windows open in the bedroom, even in summer.  The drafts can kill you!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The River of Many Names Part Six: The Danube in Croatian Folk Songs (if you like tamburitza music, you will love this post.)

Crazy Croatian Dance Songs

The Tambura in Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Croatian Folk Music

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter J

You know that I am Count the Count
because I really like to count.........
Song of the Count, from Sesame Street

This week's dance is Jiana from Transylvania, in Romania. The dance is named after a haidouk (rebel) lanca Jinu.

There are many different versions of this dance; probably named after the town or village where they originated. It is native to a specific region in Transylvania. See below:

JIANA is a small circle dance found in the villages of south Transylvania area around Sibiu and Marginimea Sibiului. This region is known for its pastoral and wealthy shepherd communities in the mountains to the southwest of Sibiu.

Villages: Jina, Poiana, Rod, Tilişca and Galeş, Săcel, Sibiel, Orlat, Gura Râului, Răşinari and along Valea Sadului to include the villages of Sadu, Tălmăcel and Boiţa.

The dance is done in a circle; the costumed dancers in the beginning of the video use a back baskethold. The second group uses a shoulder hold. Shoulder holds are common in Romanian folk dances.

The next video is Jiana de la Tilisca Sibiu. Tilisca is a district of the city Sibiu. Sibiu is known as an attractive tourist destination, It has a very strong Saxon (German) cultural influence and is also known as Hermannstadt.

Many of the videos in the Dancing Through the Alphabet series have been from China because the Chinese have a fascination with Balkan dance.  One person posted "Long live the Chinese-Romanian friendship!" in the comments section. Happy New Year of the Sheep/Goat to all Chinese readers of The Alien Diaries.

Notice how the teachers perform it as a couple dance, and the group around them does it in a circle.

The Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel specializes in Balkan dances. They perform Jiana de la Jina, a couple dance.

The bonus video of the week is of the Count from Sesame Street, everyone's favorite vampire. He's creepy but he's cool. He's modeled on Count Dracula, the fictional character from Bram Stoker's novel.  The real Dracula, Vlad Tepes, was born in Transylvania and later became the prince of Wallachia. He killed his enemies by impaling them on stakes.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Folklore and Pop Culture (again!) Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Count Dracula, Transylvania, Sesame Street, and Cereal

Transylvania: The Land of Count Dracula is a Multicultural Mishmosh

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter I

This week The Alien Diaries has reached its 250th post and will go into its 6th year!

The I's have it, since today's dances begin with the letter "I".

The first is Izruchana, a moderately difficult Vlach dance from northwestern Bulgaria.  Vlach dances have much in common with those from southern Romania.  They are fast and accented with stamps and shouts.

In case you're wondering who the Vlachs are, they are people of Romanian ancestry who live outside Romania.  Many of them were sheep herders and wandered from place to place to find good pastures. There are Vlach villages on the Bulgarian side of the Danube, River of Many Names.

This group of dancers is from Hong Kong. For some reason the Chinese love Balkan music and there are many Chinese folk dance videos on YouTube.I have also met a number of Chinese people at my folk dance group, including my daughter's high school home room teacher.

If you are a regular reader, you have seen this "Bonding Folkdance Class" from China.  Here they perform the dance Imate li Vino.  The English translation of the song is "Do you have wine?" Since February is the month of Trifon Zarezan, the patron saint of vintners, I included it this week. The dance is a lesnoto variation in 7/8 rhythm (pineapple-apple-apple).  Lesnoto is a popular dance in southwestern Bulgaria (Pirin) and in the Republic of Macedonia.

According to the lyrics, you can bring wine, money and young women, but no old ladies! I sense some age discrimination here....

For some reason the end of of the video was cut off. Someone needs to teach the Chinese some video editing skills :)

Although it's a little early, I'd like to wish my Chinese readers a Happy New Year, with health and happiness!

The bonus video for this week is a waltz by the Bulgarian composer Diko Iliev whose birthday falls on February 15. He is best known for the dance piece Dunavsko Horo.  In keeping with the "I" theme (Iliev) and the wine theme, the name of this piece is In the Vineyards Over Ribine.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

"Blessed  Wine, Cursed Drinking, A Look at St. Trifon, the Patron Saint of Vintners

How to Stamp Out Your Frustrations and Relieve Stress (Vlach dances from Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia)

Are you looking forward to spring?  It has been a long, hard winter here with plenty of cold and snow.  Chase away the winter blues with some springtime music by Diko Iliev.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dancing through the Alphabet, Letter H

Hang on to your hats...
 (idiomatic expression)

Today's dance, from Romania, begins with the letter H: Hora de la sud Miadora. It is one of the craziest ones I've seen on YouTube, very spirited and fast.  From what I can see, it looks like it takes place at a wedding reception.

Since many hora dances come from cities and towns, and the name translates into Hora from south Miadora, I did a search on it to see where the dance originated. Instead, I found an online site for handbags and wallets and a restaurant by that name. My guess is that the performers are at the Miadora restaurant. So maybe it's just Hora from the South.

This dance so fast that I wonder how the men manage to hang on to their hats for so long.

This week's added bonus is a teaching video for another Romanian dance: Hora de la Soroca led by Cristian Florescu and Sonia Dion. They are fun to watch and Cristian, especially, has a delightful sense of humor. The first two minutes are devoted to teaching. The rest is the dance performed to music, which includes an English translation of the lyrics.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Flavors of Romanian Hora

Romanian Wedding Videos from the Universe of YouTube 

The Flavors of Romanian Sirba

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet, Letter G: Ginka

The dance of the week is Ginka, from the southwest (Pirin) region of Bulgaria.

For some reason Ginka is more popular in Bulgaria than it is in the Western Hemisphere, although I found the notes for it on an American folk dance camp website.  It's done to a different song, Mitro le Mitro.

The first video features dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes and they are from the Philip Kutev ensemble. You can find this dance and many more on the website  which has videos of dances from all the folklore regions of Bulgaria.Click on the English flag on the upper right hand corner of the website if you're Cyrillically challenged :)

If you're familiar with the song Dobra Nevesto, you'll hear a bit of it at the end (minus the singing).  The rhythm is 7/8 (pineapple-apple-apple).

Ginka #2 is from a Bulgarian dance class; same dance with modern music.

This week's bonus is some gaida (bagpipe) music, since gaida beings with the letter G.  The Chinese New Year starts on February 19th.  It will be the year of the sheep (or the goat, depending on which Chinese Zodiac sign you prefer.)  Both animals share two things in common: they chew their cud and are made into Eastern European bagpipes in the Afterlife.

Someone at the Uncyclopedia got really creative with this gaidasheep. If you enjoy satire, check out a few of their articles.

A man from Macedonia who lives in Australia makes bagpipes from the bodies of goats, including the heads. He sells them over the Internet. They are a one-of-a kind product, although some people might be uneasy listening to dance tunes coming from dead goats.

I don't being reincarnated as a gaida is a bad thing. This goat can be happy in the knowledge is that he's creating beautiful music (with the help of Risto Todoroski) for the world to enjoy.

The tune is Pajduško, a dance very popular in Macedonia and Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Folk Songs Reincarnated

Modern Versions of Traditional Bulgarian Folk Songs: Part One and Part Two

The Bagpipe in Macedonian Folk Music

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet Letter F

Friday. The golden child of the weekdays.  The superhero of the workweek.  The welcome wagon to the weekend.  The famous F word we thank God for every week.
source unknown

Fridays are usually dance nights for me, and I am always thankful for them at the end of a hard week.  I bet you thought I was going to mention the other F-Word, which you can find on Wikipedia. They have written extensively about it,.  You can satisfy your curiosity about its etymology, and how it can be used as a noun, adjective or adverb. The F-Word is an extremely versatile as well as colorful part of speech.

This week's dance begins with the letter F, although it hardly can be called the F-Word. It's Fatise Kolo , a dance from from the town of  Vranje in Serbia.  It is one of those odd rhythm things; the time signature is 9/8 (quick-slow-quick-quick). You can find the lyrics and translation here

I don't know who sings this piece, but it's beautifully done and reminds me of classical music. It's amazing how many musicians have used this song on YouTube. It is a Serbian classic.

This week's added bonus is for one of my readers who likes videos of scantily clad women.  It's a different Fatise Kolo, from Niš, a spa town in Serbia.  In spa towns there are swimming pools, and that is the place where you find the bikini girls.

The music isn't bad, either. It is in 7/8 lesnoto rhythm, and very danceable.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

Classical Composers Ispired by Balkan Folk Music

Dancing in Sevens: Part One and Part Two

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet, Letter E

This week's dance is Edno Ime Imame (rough translation "We Have One Name") from Macedonia. It is one I had never heard of until I did a search for Balkan dances that begin with the letter "E." The teacher in the video is Ira Weisburd, whose specialty is Israeli dance, although you'll find him teaching several Balkan dances on YouTube.

Ira is a pleasure to watch; he performs the dance fluidly and effortlessly. This is a dance I would like to learn, although I don't know if either of the groups I frequent has the music. My guess is that this is a very old recording and may be difficult to find.

The rhythm for this is lesnoto (7/8 time signature) galloping-apple-apple, very popular in the Pirin (southwest) region of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia.

Even though this dance doesn't begin with the letter E, many of us know it as the "E" dance. When you hear the chorus you'll understand why.  The music is the Bulgarian folk song U Nasheto Selo (In Our Village), and sounds really strange, like a record played a little too fast.

Those who were born after 1985 probably aren't too familiar with those  big, plastic disks called records unless their parents or grandparents had collections gathering dust somewhere in the basement. They were cumbersome devices played on a turntable and the needle moving on the grooves produced the sounds. We've come a long way from music on 12" disks to music on a device that can be used as a phone, camera, and music player.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens

Balkan Folk Dancing and its Relationship to Math

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