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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Balkan Folk Dances Named After Rivers

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Khalil Gibran

Today's post features dance songs from Croatia and Romania that are named after rivers.

Raka Plava po Dravi from Croatia is a very strange song.  The title translates to Duck Swimming in the Drava.  The lyrics are rather strange, because the duck has a hat on its head, and the refrain is "this year the roses will bloom." The woman recognizes her beloved as he walks off a ship (he supposedly has a distinctive walk), and she wants to marry him.. The lyrics are really random, and there was no English translation (although I was able translate from German).

By the way, the Drava is a tributary of the Danube, River of Many Names, which has written about extensively on this blog (see the links to other posts).  The Drava flows from the west, through Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. 

Here's Raca Plava taught by Yves Moreau. He is a well-known teacher, primarily of dances from Bulgaria. He leads workshops all over the world; this one was held in Israel.



In the "village" of Vienna, Austria, they dance Raca Plava a little differently. At dance we have a saying, "he or she is "from a different village" when someone visits one of our dances and does a different variation. Choreography is not a static entity.  Remember the game "telephone" you may have played as a child?  Dance works the same way.



The next dance song is about a river in Romania Siriul din Buzau This is another love song, a bit more romantic than the one from Croatia, with beautiful imagery (you can find the English translation here). The music sounds like flowing water.

This group is from the United States.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The River of Many Names (all the links are accessible from part seven); a pan-Balkan series with Danube songs from different countries.

Beli Dunav (parts one, two and three) Danube Songs from Bulgaria

Some Fun for April Fool's Day: Silly Songs, Strange Sayings, Proverbs, and Insults from the Balkans

For more on the "different village" concept read:

Two Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Kraj Dunavsko Horo

A great resource for dance songs and translations is the Songbook for Nearsighted People. The Songbook features lyrics from many different countries (especially the Balkans) in the original languages (transliterated for Bulgarian and Macedonian).  Most of the songs are translated into German and English.

You can view the publication in its entirety or each song as a single page. The font is large, perfect for those who are visually challenged :)

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

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