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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Will the Real Hora Pe Gheata Please Stand Up?

Figure skating is a mixture of art and sport.
Katarina Witt

Let's start with the Romanian folk dance Hora Pe Gheata, which translates to "dance on the ice." You don't need skates to do this, a smooth wooden floor will work.  To enhance the slidey effect, you can dance in socks.



Now let's get to the really good stuff. Today's post features ice dancing performed by young people from a skating club in Romania.  They wear folk costumes adapted for skating.

Video #2 is Hora Primaverii (springtime dance), even though it is always winter at the skating rink.  That ice has to be kept cold, you know.  If the summer heat gets to you, you can always take refuge at your local ice arena. I used to ice skate but I don't anymore because it's so cold at the rink and it's difficult to move around in a heavy jacket.



Video #3 is a group of kids dancing a sirba...on ice! This was a special show that the club gave for the Romanian National Day on December 1st.



Video #4 shows the young people dancing to an excerpt from Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody #1 and a medley of other folk tunes. They demonstrate exceptional talent. Who knows, they make may it into a future Winter Olympics!



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance: Hora Pe Gheata

Classical Composers Inspired by Balkan Folk Dances

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Variations on the Greek Folk Dance: Tai Tai

Choreography isn't written in stone, nor does it exist in a vacuum.
-Katley

My approach to folk dance is one of flexibility.  I find that too many people focus on one choreography whereas I focus more on "feeling the music" and letting it take you where you want to go. The basic choreography is a guide, the variations are like frosting on a cake. There is room for creativity in folk dance, and different "villages" have their variations on a basic theme.

Today's dance is Tai Tai from the Greek region of Thessaly, usually performed around Easter.

Video #1 is the version done by recreational folk dancers.

The music is haunting and beautiful, sung by a female chorus and accompanied by a clarinet.   This dance has two parts: part one with a front basket hold (slow) and the second part with step hops, pas de basques (crossovers) and raised hands.



Video #2 is the Greek version.  The melody is the same, although the music has a definitely different quality, with a male singer and a lower octave on the clarinet.

The choreography is different than the previous video.  The first figure resembles a slow Pravo Horo (three steps forward and one to the side);  the second figure looks like Sta Tria, the Greek version of Lesnoto.  The dancers also do turns and swings into the middle of the circle.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Fun and Easy Folk Dances from Greece

Tai Tai reminds me of another Greek dance: Paraliakos.

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bring on the Kids!

You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.
Ogden Nash

Dancing keeps you young, and the younger you start the better. Staying immature is optional. Who wants to grow up anyway?

Today's post features young people performing dances from Serbia and Bulgaria.

Video #1 is of three Chinese kids from the States dancing Sestorka from Serbia.Check out the girl who leads (she also does the sound effects.  Hoo-ha he-hop!

This dance is usually done in a belt hold, but the kids here are using a basket hold.  Either one is fine. Short lines are best; three to four people is a good number.

The lyrics are at the bottom of the screen, so you can sing along.



Video #2 is the kids's dance ensemble Hopa Trop dancing a Shopska Rachenitsa. The group is from Seattle, Washington.

The title of the video is Proletni Igri (Springtime Dance).  I'm still waiting for spring because the weather has been so chilly.



Video #3 is of the kids' ensemble Dimitrovche from Toronto, Canada.  The description (in Bulgarian) translates to Big Thracian Dance.  It's actually a dressed-up version of Pravo Horo. The kids are dressed-up, too, in elaborate embroidered costumes.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Hopa Trop: Children's Ensemble From Seattle, Washington

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo (includes a performance by the Dimitrovche Kids

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused Part Eight: Opsa and Opas

I never want to confuse people or go over their heads.
Wiz Khalifa

Today's post features two dances with names that are easily confused. It is part of a series that ran away with itself.

Opsa is a dance very popular in the Serbian community in the United States.  It probably came into existence during a party when a bunch of people got tanked on slivovitz.  It is an easy dance, fun, and you even get to shout opsa! numerous times.

Despite the U.S. origin, the lyrics are in Serbian, and one part sounds like the words "whatever doesn't kill you opsa skochi" (listen at 0.08).

The lady in the middle is Sasha, who used to teach dance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City many years ago.  She also led workshops in upstate New York, on the grounds of a Workmens' Circle summer camp.  It was tricky dancing around those poles.



Video #2 is the Bulgarian dance Opas, the Dobrudjan version of Pravo Horo.  There are many versions of this dance; this variation is the most popular in the folk dance community.  At dance recently the programmer mistakenly played this tune instead of Opsa. He had everyone confused except me.



Video #3 is a different version of Opas performed by Zagortski dance group from Bulgaria.



If you enjoyed this you may also like the Balkan Dances that are Often Confused series (this post links to all of them).

Two Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Opas

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