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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Kutsata

We need creativity in order to break free from the temporary structures that have been set up by a particular sequence of experience.
Edward de Bono

What I have found fascinating in the world of folk dance is the concept of "the different village."  In the "different village", the dance is performed in a different manner than the way we were taught. Choreography is not a static entity, and variations make it interesting and more challenging.

Today's dance variations are of Kutsata, from the Bulgarian region of Dobrudja. It is a rachenitsa (the national dance of Bulgaria) and in the time signature of 7/8 or 7/16 (depending on the speed).

Kutsata translates into "the cuckoo" in English via Google Translate. A lady on Facebook pointed out that Google Translate was incorrect; that the name of the dance is derived from kutsam (to limp). Thanks for the feedback!

The dances of Dobrudja are known for their "heaviness", stamps and strong arm movements.

Video #1 features dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes, accompanied by live music (accordion, tupan and gaida).



Video #2 is performed by the dance club 7/8. They named themselves after the time signature that is common to the folk dances rachenitsa, lesnoto, and chetvorno. The difference is the grouping of the beats; rachenitsa is apple-apple-pineapple; lesnoto and chetvorno are pineapple-apple-apple.

This is a different choreography from Video #1, to different music.



Video #3 is of a dance class practicing another version of Kutsata, with stamps, arm waving, and knee bends in true Dobrudjan style.



Video #4 is a dance related to Kutsata. The music is the same as in Video #1, but the dance is listed as Панделаж (Pandelas).



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

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

Povlekana is another rachenitsa from Dobrujda.

You can see another version of Pandelas here.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Добруджанска Рька

When I was doing preliminary research on this case, I remembered the story about Tlazolteotl.' [Mulder] glanced at the old archaeologist. 'Am I pronouncing it correctly? It sounds like I'm swallowing a turtle.'
Kevin J. Anderson

Today's post is about a very popular dance from Bulgaria.  If you requested this dance in Bulgaria the way it's pronounced in North America they would think it's a river in Dobrudja!  This is another example of confusion in the world of folk dance.

The reason the title above is in Cyrillic has to do with the difference between the Bulgarian words: râka, meaning "hand" and the word "reka" meaning river.  The "a" in râka sounds almost like a "u".

Today's post features four variations of the dance Dobrudjanksa Râka. Each one is done to different music.  Notice that all of them have strong arm and hand movements.

Video #1 is from the series "Teach Yourself Bulgarian Folk Dance." This is Râka in its most basic form, performed by dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes. The yellow head scarves on the women are typical for Dobrudja.



Video #2 is a variation popular in Bulgaria performed by the folk dance club 7/8.



Video #3 is the variation of  Dobrudjanksa Râka most popular with groups in North America. The ladies are members of the New Orleans International Folk Dancers.

Years ago Dobrudjanksa Râka used to be performed only by women. It has become an "equal opportunity dance" for a long time.  Men are allowed in the line, too :)



Version #4 is presented by the Bulgarian folk dance club Акцент (Accent).



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Chichovo Horo

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Trite Puti

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Povlekana

Some Equal Opportunity Folk Dances

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Paradise of Lemon Trees

There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another.
Frank Zappa

Today's post features a dance created from the beautiful Greek song Tou Paradiso Lemonia. One of the dancers from the Sunday night group in Wethersfield introduced it last year.  It's a very catchy melody in 7/8 rhythm (pineapple-apple-apple).

The leader in the video is Murray Spiegel; the group is the Morristown Folk Dancers from New Jersey.



Below are the lyrics in English translation provided by Danai Kyriakou, via YouTube. It's a tragic song about lost love; it probably would make more sense in the original language; something always gets lost in translation.

The singer's name is Pantelis Thalassinos. You can find his songs on YouTube.

This was the best translation I could find (Google Translate didn't work well).

Lemon tree of paradise
a twig of oblivion
Keep for me too
keep for me too
For I have two years in my throat a tired sigh
And lips locked up, and lips locked up
My body filled with myrrh and fragrances
that wake the hearts my good lemon
That wake the hearts my good lemon that stop the pain
Send me your white blossom with its aromas before I fall and wither in other bodies
Before I fall and wither in other bodies before I enter into the third year
Lemon tree of paradise hide the clothes of the murderer
Into the closet of bitterness Into the closet of bitterness
the bloody waters so to get again my wings
That love has broken that love has broken
My body filled with myrrh and fragrances that wake the hearts my good lemon
That wake the hearts my good lemon that stop the pain
Send me your white blossom with its aromas before I fall and wither in other bodies
Before I fall and wither in other bodies
before I enter into the third year before I enter into the third year

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Sometimes Lost in Translation: Bulgarian Proverbs

Fun and Easy Folk Dances From Greece

Tragic love songs are definitely multicultural. This post features several from Bulgaria: Beli Dunav, Part Two: Danube Blues

The Alien Diaries will be taking a break for about two weeks.  There are over 350 posts, you can enjoy them during your summer vacation!

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Three variations on the Romanian/Moldovan Folk Dance Ciobanasul

I'm a shepherd, not a sheep, and I've always prided myself on being a leader and not a follower.
Dustin Diamond

Today's  post features Ciobanasul (Shepherd's Dance).  I found three versions of it on YouTube that caught my attention.

Video #1 had me a bit confused. That seems to be a common occurrence on The Alien Diaries, where confusion rules the world of folk dance. This dance is listed as from Romania, but the description on YouTube mentions that this is a dance from Moldova.  Moldova and Romania are different countries, although the official language is the same for both: Romanian.  There are also similarities in music and dance styles.

To add even more to the confusion, there is a province in Romania named Moldova/Moldavia. It borders the country of Moldova.

The first figure looks like a part of the Chicken Dance. It is repeated several times in the dance.



Video #2 is a different version of Ciobanasul to different music,  performed by a school group dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes.  They perform it as a line dance (dances from Romania and Moldova are usually done in a circle).



Video #3 is  Ciobanasul performed as a couple dance (it becomes a circle at 2:38). This group is from Bacau in Romania.  What is really cool is to see all these young people performing folk dances and continuing the traditions.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bring on the Kids

Hopa Trop: Children's Ensemble from Seattle, Washington

The Different "Flavors" of the Romanian Folk Dance: Alunelul

If you want confusion, check out the series: Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused. It starts with the most recent post. The others can be accessed from there.

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