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Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Fever in Moldova and Bulgaria

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
Mark Twain

The country of Moldova celebrates the spring holiday Mărțișor. It is observed in a similar fashion as in their southern neighbor, Romania and begins on March 1.

Today's video (it is actually part one of three) is a celebration from the town of Dubăsari in Moldova.

The official language of Moldova is Romanian. Moldova was part of Romania between 1918 and 1940 and used to be known as Bessarabia. The music is very similar in character to Romanian folk music.

I have posted Part One of the concert here (the other two in the series can be seen on YouTube.)



In Bulgaria, March 1 is the day of the Martenitsa, a spring holiday which celebrates Baba Marta, a mythological character with tremendous mood swings.

The video  explains the tradition of the Martenitsa, with instructions on how to make one. It is accompanied by cheerful Bulgarian folk music.  You can even dance to it!



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Crossing the River Part Three: The Bulgarian Martenitsa and the Romanian Mărțișor

Mărțișor: A Romanian Spring Celebration

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dances from Stara Zagora

A city isn’t so unlike a person. They both have the marks to show they have many stories to tell. They see many faces. They tear things down and make new again.
Rasmenia Massoud

Today's music and dance are from the city of Stara Zagora in the south central (Thrace) region of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is Starazorska Rachenitsa, named after the city. Rachenitsa is the national dance of Bulgaria and danced all over the country; it has many regional styles.  The Thracian rachenitsa tends to be slow and smooth. Oftentimes in this dance the arm movements are emphasized.

The name rachenitsa is derived from the Bulgarian word for hand or forearm: ръка.

Here you will see a club demonstrating the dance.  Afterwards, there is instruction, and then everyone else joins in. This version is "na horo" or in a group.



The next dance is Staro Zagorsko Horo. The difference between rachenitsa and horo is that a horo is a group dance; rachenitsa can be performed solo or as a couple as well as in a group.

Staro Zagorsko Horo is a pravo variation.The pravo is the most popular dance form in Thrace, although there are regional variations done in other parts of the country. Like the rachenitsa, it is danced all over the country.

This dance starts off slowly and speeds up.  The beginning is a pravo variation with grapevines and sways. The fancy footwork starts at 2:32.

If you are a regular reader of The Alien Diaries, you will recognize the Chinese "bonding folk dance class."



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

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

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part Seven: Balta and Ca La Balta

“Knowledge is the name professors give to the confusion they create.”
― Marty Rubin

Today's post will give you even more knowledge about the confusion of names in Balkan dance with two dances from Romania.

Video #1 is the dance Balta, which fits a lot of steps in less than two minutes. The music reminds me of Calusari, another Romanian dance.

"Balta" is the Romanian word for marsh or swamp. It is also the name of a commune in Romania.

The performance in the video is smooth and seemingly effortless. It is a pleasure to watch this man dance.



Video #2 is Ca la Balta.  This is a modern version played on a saxophone. Click here if you want to hear the traditional version on panpipe and cimbalom. The name translates to "as in Balta."



If you enjoyed this you may also like the rest of the series Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused.
The link goes to Part Six, you can access the other posts from there.

Crossing the River, Part Two: The Stick Dancers - Romanian Calusari and Their Bulgarian Counterparts

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