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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Tribute to Lyubka Rondova

A nation that keeps its millennial history, did not come by chance in this world.
Lyubka Rondova

Today we celebrate the life and music of Lyubka Rondova, Bulgarian folk singer who was born in 1936 in Greece.  She is especially well known for her performances of folk songs from the Pirin region. She passed away on March 15, 2016 after a long illness.

Video #1 is a performance with Lyubka Rondova and Ilia Lykov of the song Цъфнало цвеке шарено ("Bright Flower Blowing" according to the webpage).  I think they were referring to blooming flowers, not blowing ones, but translations from Bulgarian can be a little strange sometimes. Or it could have been a typo.

The dance to this is lesnoto.



Lyubka Rondova was also fond of songs from Aegean (Greek) Macedonia.   Dimitrula Mou (My Dimitrula) is in Greek, from a recording done many years ago.

It is a happy song about going to the taverna to drink retsina  (wine made from pine resin).  To me, retsina smells and tastes like turpentine, but since the Greeks have been drinking it for over 2000 years, it is obviously an acquired taste.

The dance for this song is a devetorka.



Video #3 is a song that tells a story:  Belomorie, made for a documentary about Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia, Thrace and Dobrudja.  You can find the translation here.

Lyubka Rondova was a refugee child uprooted from her village during the Civil War in Greece. Most of the victims were children of Slavic language speakers who lived in the Greek province of Macedonia, and many of them died, along with their caretakers, during their journey out of the country.  They were resettled in refugee camps all over Eastern Europe.  Lyubka Rondova was sent to Poland, and later moved to Czechoslovakia before she rejoined her family in Bulgaria in 1960.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Voices from the Past: Classic Bulgarian Folk Songs, Part One and Two

The Best of the Bisserov Sisters (and Family)

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
Desmond Tutu

Today's post is written in memory of one of my favorite uncles. He passed on March 8, 2016 at the age of 85. He suffered from lung cancer during the last few years of his life and when the time came, he was ready. He had traveled extensively through Europe and Latin America and used to tell fascinating stories. I will miss him very much.

The featured dance is Chichovo Horo (Uncle's Dance). It is one of my favorites and the basic version is easy to learn by watching. I don't see too many folk dance groups in the States do it nowadays, although it is very popular in Bulgaria.

This dance can be done to different music, and in that respect it has much in common with another dance from the northern folklore region, Dunavsko Horo.

Chichovo is a member of the Čoček family of dances. I have seen Čoček danced to this piece during Balkan Music Night, a festival of music and dance celebrated every March in the Boston area.

Video #1 is a group of professional dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes.  The melody is the one most commonly associated with the dance.



In video #2 Daniel Spassov sings the song that goes with the music: Davai Chicho. This is an excerpt from a longer video Ide Duhovata Muzika (Here Comes the Brass Band).  If anyone out there can find me the lyrics and translation to the song it would be much appreciated.



This is one of the best versions of Chichovo I have seen on YouTube. The music for this dance is usually played by a brass band, but here the gaida (bagpipe), tupan (drum), and tambura (string instrument) dominate, along with singing. There is only one man performing with the women and he does all the fancy moves.  The actual dance starts at 1:38.



Video #4 is of a kids' group from Canada: Dimitrovche. They dance a different variation to music played by a brass band. Brass bands are very popular in Northern Bulgaria, and the composer, Diko Iliev, created many dance pieces for them.

The little girl is the real attention grabber here.  These kids have remarkable energy!



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Same Dance, Different Music: Dunavsko Horo

Here Comes the Brass Band!

Three Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Chetvorno Horo

Having a Blast with Diko Iliev

The Alien Diaries will be taking a short break for the rest of March.  I will be posting again in early April. You can catch up on the other 300 posts :)  Enjoy!

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

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
Desmond Tutu

Today's post is written in memory of one of my favorite uncles. He passed on March 8, 2016 at the age of 85. He suffered from lung cancer during the last few years of his life and when the time came, he was ready. He had traveled extensively through Europe and Latin America and used to tell fascinating stories. I will miss him very much.

The featured dance is Chichovo Horo (Uncle's Dance). It is one of my favorites and the basic version is easy to learn by watching. I don't see too many folk dance groups in the States do it nowadays, although it is very popular in Bulgaria.

This dance can be done to different music, and in that respect it has much in common with another dance from the northern folklore region, Dunavsko Horo.

Chichovo is a member of the Čoček family of dances. I have seen Čoček danced to this piece during Balkan Music Night, a festival of music and dance celebrated every March in the Boston area.

Video #1 is a group of professional dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes.  The melody is the one most commonly associated with the dance.



In video #2 Daniel Spassov sings the song that goes with the music: Davai Chicho. This is an excerpt from a longer video Ide Duhovata Muzika (Here Comes the Brass Band).  If anyone out there can find me the lyrics and translation to the song it would be much appreciated.



This is one of the best versions of Chichovo I have seen on YouTube. The music for this dance is usually played by a brass band, but here the gaida (bagpipe), tupan (drum), and tambura (string instrument) dominate, along with singing. There is only one man in this ensemble and he does all the fancy moves.  The actual dance starts at 1:38.



Video #4 is of a kids' group from Canada: Dimitrovche. They dance a different variation to music played by a brass band. Brass bands are very popular in Northern Bulgaria, and the composer, Diko Iliev, created many dance pieces for them.

The little girl is the real attention grabber here.  These kids have remarkable energy!



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Same Dance, Different Music: Dunavsko Horo

Here Comes the Brass Band!

Three Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Chetvorno Horo

Having a Blast with Diko Iliev

The Alien Diaries will be taking a short break for the rest of March.  I will be posting again in early April. You can catch up on the other 300 posts :)  Enjoy!

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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Post #300: The Songs of Binka Dobreva

God sent his Singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men,
And bring them back to heaven again.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This week marks the 300th post and the sixth year of The Alien Diaries. When I started this blog in 2010, I never expected it to go for so long!

In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, today's featured artist is Binka Dobreva from Bulgaria. She performs traditional as well as modern folk songs.

According to Bulgarian Wikipedia, she celebrates her 56th birthday on March 11. She has performed with the Filip Kutev Ensemble and The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices.

Binka Dobreva wears a really strange outfit in video #1. Fashion has come a long way since 1995, when this video was recorded.

Some people who design women's clothes really need to have their eyes examined. The plaid jacket (at 1:00) is totally ugly and makes her shoulders much too wide. Her hair is way too big, (but not as bad as a certain Republican presidential candidate whose name will not be mentioned here.)

She was definitely in need of one of those What Not to Wear makeovers. A folk costume would have suited her much better.

The song is Gergana. The dance to it is Pravo Horo, a very popular dance from Bulgarian Thrace (Trakia).



Let's fast forward 15 years to 2010. Binka Dobreva looks like a new woman! She is like fine wine, and ages well :)  The hairstyle and the clothing are much more becoming than in Video #1.

The song, Хайде всички на хорото (translation: Let's all Dance the Horo) is something that makes you want to get up and dance.



Binka Dobreva is a versatile artist and extremely talented. She does equally well with traditional as well as modern songs.  The next song is a beautiful ballad about woman whose husband left her to fight the Ottoman Turks: Daniova Mama Dumashe (Danio's mother said...)

She's accompanied by the Mystery of Bulgarian Voices choir.



The translation is verbatim from the person who posted the video on YouTube.  I take no responsibility for spelling errors.

Danio's mother was saying Danio,
my son, Danio I'm tired my dear,
I can't stand it I'm tired my dear,
I can't stand it your fahther's anger
your father's sorrows
When you were in the craddle your father left me and went to the Balkan (to the mountain, to fight Ottomans)
I looked for you my dear,
I raised you when you grew up you went to the Balkan too.
Come here, my dear, come here I wanna make your weddings
to have joy with dauthers-in-law
To watch my daughters-in-law and to raise little grandsons.


If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

The Women of Bulgarian Folk Songs

Valya Balkanska in Concert

Bulgarian Singing Demystified

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