Follow by Email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Creative Commons License

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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Trakiiska (Thracian) Rachenitsa

If you look at music, you see theme, variation, you see symmetry, asymmetry, you see structure, and these are related to skills in the real world.
Dave Van Ronk

Today's post features several variations of the Thracian Rachenitsa  (Тракийска Ръченица), a dance from south central Bulgaria.  It is a dance in an odd rhythm, 7/8 or 7/16 depending on the speed.  Thrace is a geographical region in three different countries: Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

Video #1 is a simple Thracian Rachenitsa. This version is done "na horo" (in a group, holding hands).

Rachenitsa can be danced solo, as a couple, or in a line.

Video #2 is another variation that we often do during live music parties.  This version has more arm movement than the previous one.

The notes underneath the YouTube video describe it (translated from Bulgarian) "as a ten minute horo by non-professionals."  They dance around a bunch of white balloons at a wedding (there is a quick glimpse of the bride at 0.35). At 8:00 a man and a woman dance a couple's rachenitsa (that and the solo are usually freestyle), and two women at 9:27.

Bulgarians are known for long dance medleys at parties. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of booze to fuel all that energetic dancing.  The leader carries a Bulgarian flag, and passes it to the next leader at 8:48.

Video #3 is a lively (and more complex) version of Thracian Rachenitsa, performed by the dance club 7/8. Wonder where they got that name?

7/8 is the time signature for rachenitsa, lesnoto, and chetvorno.  It depends on the grouping of the beats.  Rachenitsa is apple-apple-pineapple.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors of Bulgarian Rachenitsa" Part One,  and Part Two

Dancing in Sevens, Part One

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Three Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Izruchana

In a word, the Vlachs are the perfect Balkan citizens, able to preserve their culture without resorting to war or politics, violence, or dishonesty. (source unknown)

Today's post features different versions of the Bulgarian folk dance Izruchana, also known as Izruchanka. It is of Vlach origin from northwestern Bulgaria.

Video #1 shows the version of Izruchana most popular with folk dancers in North America, performed by a group from China.

According to the notes, this is a men's dance. In the video, there are both men and women in the line.

Video #2 uses the same music as Video #1.  This is a different choreography in the Vlach style (the name Izruchana is not mentioned in the title).  The group is Severnyatsite from the city of Pleven. The costumes are predominantly red and white, typical for northern Bulgaria.

Video #3 is another version of Izruchana, performed to different music. If you're a frequent reader of The Alien Diaries, you'll recognize the dancers.  The Dunav group from Jerusalem, Israel has many teaching videos, both on their website and on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Vlach Dances from Bulgaria and Serbia

Variations on a Vlaško Theme

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Sense of Déjà Vu, Part Three

How quickly the new and strange becomes old and familiar.
Garon Whited

Today's post features the ensemble Fluieras from Romania. What is really unusual about this video is that the group performs Bulgarian dances to what sounds, at first, like Romanian music. The tunes are Bulgarian, arranged for a Romanian folk orchestra. It reminds me of translation from one language to another.

The music starts with a caval (same as Bulgarian kaval) but you'll hear the difference when the orchestra plays violins, cimbalom, and accordion.

The costumes and the music are from the Shope region of Bulgaria.  The video begins with Shopsko Horo, Daichovo at 2:57,  Graovsko at 5:00. At 6:33 is the grand finale.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Mango Duende: Latin Rhythm with a Bulgarian Accent

Variations on a Theme by Petko Stainov: Rachenitsa goes to Guatemala

A Sense of Déjà Vu, Part One and Part Two

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