Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Hora de Mina (mână) Variations

Hands have their own language. 
 Simon van Booy

Today's post is about three variations of the dance Hora de Mina (mână). It emphasizes a particular body part, the hands. There are two spellings, one with diacritics and one without. Most groups in the States use the spelling "mina" without diacritics.  

 Video #1 is the version done by nearly every folk dance group. The melody is played on a bagpipe (cimpoi) in Romanian. It's from the region of Oltenia in southwest Romania. The dancers are from Jerusalem in Israel.


Video #2 has different music and different choreography than Video #1. This group, Hora Romaneasca, is from Boulder, Colorado, USA, performing the dance during a festival.  This one has strigaturi (shouts) and a lot of hand movement.


Video #3 is a version of Hora de Mina that I haven't seen before.  This one seems to be more popular across the Pond. 

The dancer, Rosemary Gledhill, is from the United Kingdom. Does anyone out there know the name of the song? This is the only version of this dance with vocals. There is a teaching segment at the end of the video.


Since dancing is much more fun in a group, here is Hora de Mina version 3 performed by Kaval, a group from the Netherlands.  Kaval is also the name of a musical instrument, an end blown flute played in the Balkans.


 If you enjoyed this you may also like: Dances from Oltenia Part Six (links to the previous posts in the series)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Storm Large Channels Maria Tanase

I look at the artistic process as like experiencing the world, channeling it through your personality and sending it back out there. That's the process. 
David Sanborn 

Earlier this year I wrote a post about Ciuleandra and the world-famous singer Maria Tanase. Her voice and her style were unique. There is one other person who was able to channel Maria Tanase and that is Storm Large. The song is Până când nu te iubeam. The song is based on lyrics by Anton Pann.  Anton Pann was a teacher, student of folklore and a poet in 19th century Romania.  It came from a collection titled The Hospital of Love.  

Storm Large's performance with the group Pink Martini was so amazing that many Romanians praised it on YouTube.  
There is also a dance to Până când nu te iubeam, Hora Anton Pann. Listen to the song; Maria Tanase was the singer. Unfortunately there is no video of her performing this but Storm Large's rendition is very close to the original.

By the way, this dance is also known as Hora Veche (not to be confused with another dance with the same name but different music and different choreography.) See post listed below for the dance Hora Veche that most folk dance groups do.      

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Monday, October 2, 2023

A Tribute to Yves Moreau

Every individual soul chooses the significant people in that life. Destiny will place you in the particular circumstance; it will dictate that you will encounter a particular person, at a certain time, place. 
Brian Weiss

In 2012 I went to my first Yves Moreau workshop. It was located on Sylvan Lake, Hopewell Junction, New York. The workshops were held in a Jewish summer camp post season, usually in late September.  The biggest challenge was the posts that held up the building; you had to watch out for them while dancing. The camp was in a beautiful setting by a lake. I went for several years; workshops were held during early fall.   When I wasn't dancing and the weather was good I sat outside on the lake front either chatting with one of the other campers, when alone I brought a book to read.  The dinners were special because we got to eat with the teachers (the Israeli dance teacher at the time was Danny Pollock.)  The teachers would rotate with the guests and one night I was at the table with Yves and his wife France.

Yves Moreau taught some really cool dances at these workshops.  Here are some videos of the ones he taught.

Video#1 is Novo Zagorsko Horo, taught at the 2013 workshop. It was one of the dances I had on my "to learn" list.    I call it a Pravo variation with attitude.  It was not an easy dance but a lot of fun.

By the way in Bulgaria, there are two towns with Zagora in the name.  They are Nova Zagora and Stara Zagora. You won't get confused if you remember Nova means "new" and Stara means "old. "The Zagora with the Roman ruins is the old one.

The YouTube Channel "Folk Dance With Henry" has a large repertoire of international dances  Notice that Henry's dancing in a tow away zone.  He wasn't there long enough to get towed :)

Yves reviewed Varnenska Tropanka in 2012.  It was a dance I already knew from the Friday night folk dances. 

Video #2 is of Yves teaching Varnenska Tropanka at a workshop in Vienna back in 1996.  The video quality in those days was a bit fuzzy, but you can see Yves leading in the center.  This was probably taken with a camcorder; technology has come a long way since then because now we can take high quality videos with a cell phone.


A memorable dance I learned during the 2013 workshop was Vidinsko Horo. I had tried to learn it from YouTube videos, but when I went to this workshop Yves spent a good part of an afternoon teaching this dance and I finally got it.

What is really cool is that Bulgarian dance has become popular all over the world.  The dancers in Video #3 are from Japan; Balkan dance is really big over there.  They are wearing costumes as well as masks.  One looks like a black cat, the other a chipmunk (by the way, cats hunt chipmunks, so in real life they wouldn't get along, let alone dance together :)


 Video #5 is a dance that I learned at one of Yve's workshops: Momino Horo. This video took place in Haifa in 2014 and unlike the 1996 video it's very clear. I still have the T-shirt that he wore in the video. I bought it the year Yves retired, hardly wore it, and it's almost brand new. My group in Wethersfield had a memorial dance a few weeks ago and I wore it in his honor. 


Written to honor the memory of Yves Moreau, dance teacher and choreographer 1948-2003
He passed away due to primary biliary cholangitis  (non-alcoholic liver disease in layman's terms) on September 9th 2023.
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Friday, September 15, 2023

Lost in Translation: An Alternative Version of the Lyrics for Ciuleandra

He who betrays love will be punished by God.
Maria Tanase (born 25 September 2013, died 22 June 1963)

Today's post features a famous Romanian singer, Maria Tanase, her best known song, Ciuleandra, and what English speakers hear when they listen to the lyrics.  This is how things get lost in translation!

Ciuleandra is a dance that most folk dancers know.   It is done to a Romanian folk song that was modernized by the legendary singer Maria Tanase. The link to the lyrics is here with a translation from Romanian into English and German. (The song is about a century plant, which I didn't even know existed.) From the description here, it is not native to the European continent; its natural habitat is the desert regions of Mexico and the United States. There may be a plant similar to this in Europe.

Video #1 is the dance Ciuleandra, performed by the Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel.  Check out their YouTube channel; they have videos for just about every dance in the folk dance world.

By the way the lyrics seem to make very little sense;  why would the century plant be the object of being stomped on?  I also looked at the German translation for "Strohblume" which did not look at all like the century plant that grows in the deserts of the New World.  I wonder if something was lost in translation?


Before moving on to Video #2, which describes what English speakers hear when the song Ciuleandra is played (it's quite funny); let's mention the life of  Maria Tanase.  A native of Bucharest, she had an amazing voice and sang not only folk songs but operetta music and popular songs during her short time on Earth (she lived only 49 years.)  She performed in movies. Her talent was recognized early, while she was still in her teens.

Some interesting tidbits from the life of Maria Tanase:

1. She grew up in a slum in Bucharest and dropped out of school in the third grade (out of necessity; her family was impoverished). Her parents operated a garden center.

2. She sneaked into in cemeteries to listen to mourners (weird!)

3. She performed in the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, New York.

4. She entered the Miss Romania contest but the judges thought her legs were too heavy during the swimsuit competition.

5. In her will, she specified that she be laid to rest without shoes; the ones she wore while performing tormented her feet.

She had a very busy performance schedule; she travelled all over the European continent and even to the New World.   She continued to perform even after she found a lump in her breast (that was removed). When she recovered from the surgery, she gave more performances until she lost her voice; by 1962; the cancer had spread to her lungs. There were few treatments for late stage cancer back then, she passed on in June of 1963. 

She was so popular in Romania, despite her views against the current Communist regime that mobs of people attended her funeral. The Communists ruled Romania from 1947-1989 until Nicolae Ceaușescu was executed, along with his family.

Back to the crazy English "lost in translation" version of the song.  The best known refrain is "She forgot to lay the eggs!"


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Friday, August 18, 2023

Dances Named After People

Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.

 Leonard Bernstein

Every dance I know of has a name.  Sometimes there are dances that have the same name but different choreography and different music (Mindrele from Romania is a good example). There can be a lot of confusion in folk dancing!

Today's post is about dances named after people or those who choreographed them.  Video #1 is Shantel, named after Stefan Hantel, a Roma Romanian dance arranged by Maurits and Tineke Van Geel. This is a tune that will take up residence in your head for days if not weeks.


Video #2 is a song about Mitro, a very classy lady who tends to forget things (like yours truly). This dance is for all the absent minded people out there.  I often forget the change at 2:35 and since I lead this it drives everyone else crazy!

The dance is a Pravo variation from the Rhodope region of Bulgaria.  The teacher in this video is Jaap Leegwater (more about him below).


Video #3 is Sborenka, also known as Jaap's Sborenka.  Jaap Leegwater, a choreographer from the Netherlands,  was the one who introduced this to the folk dance community. This dance is from the Dobrujda region of Bulgaria. There is also a region with a similar name in Romania, and it's spelled Dobrogea. 

There are many different versions of Sborenka.  This dance is also spelled Sborinka.  Transliteration from Bulgarian into English can be a little tricky.
This is also a tune that will earworm its way into your head.


If you enjoyed this you may also like:

What's in a Name? (dances from Bulgarian Dobrudja)
 Balkan Dances Often Confused Part 23 (this contains links to previous posts)

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Dances from Dobrogea

When you're 16, 30 seems ancient. When you're 30, 45 seems ancient. When you're 45, 60 seems ancient. When you're 60, nothing seems ancient. 
Helen Mirren 

The dance in Video #1 is Joc Batrinesc.  Batrinesc means "ancient" in Romanian. (There is also a Hora Veche which means "old dance" that was covered in one of the posts listed below.). This is slow and mellow compared to a lot of Romanian dances (though it does include stamps).

Theodor Vasilescu reconstructed it from a dance that was lost. His version has more hops and sways than the one we usually do.  It was originally from the village of Niculițel.  

This version is from a group of videos titled "Folk Dance with Henry." They live in Florida so some of these are shot outdoors, probably in the winter when the rest of us are freezing :)


Video #2 is Romanian Paijdusko also known as  Paiduska de la Stejaru The melody reminds me a little of the childhood cartoons I used to watch. Unlike the Bulgarian or Macedonian Paijdusko, the rhythm for this dance is in 6/16.  

Video #3 is Geampara (to the "Dancing Hat" song.) The rhythm is similar to Bulgarian rachenitsa: apple-apple-pineapple (7/16). This group is from Taiwan, but the Romanian who posted it and the commenters actually had a lot of praise; they said the group was dancing Geampara like they do in Dobrogea. If you want to see the original video with the dancing hat, click on the first link below at the end of this post.


 Video #4 is Dragaicuta, slow and graceful dance. According to Andrew Carnie's notes it is connected to a women's spring ritual. Another source cites that this is a dance done by friends of the bride to mourn the loss of her when she marries.  Either source could be correct.     


If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Dancing Hat (song by the group Ro-Mania)

Horror from Veche (a funny take on a Romanian folk dance) The woman who taught it to us passed away two years ago. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Dances from Oltenia, Part Six

It's been a while since I've written here. I finally found an arthritis friendly keyboard and a computer with a large screen (less eyestrain! less hand pain!) Today's post is a continuation of a series that started years ago: Dances from Oltenia. During the past year I have been at in person dances and Zoom Meetings.  These are dances our group hasn't done.

 I had no idea that folk dances from Oltenia were so popular. Oltenia is the region directly north of the Severnjasko region of Bulgaria, best known for its spirited dances. Video #1 is Hora Mare Olteneasca (Large Oltenian Hora).

I found these on the Dunav website.  They specialize mainly in Balkan and dance and what I like is that they specify the region of the country as well. The problem is that they sometimes cut their videos short.

 Video #2 is Galaonul de la Birca.  Birca is a town in Dolj county. (For some reason the video lists Muntenia as the region of origin.  Somebody goofed :)

Video #3 is Briuletul de La Birca, not to be confused with the dance in the previous video.  Didn't I say many times that confusion happens quite frequently when it comes to Balkan dancing?

Briul means "belt" in Romanian.

There are several versions of the Rustemul dance. Video #4 is Rustemul de la Pristol.  According to a Romanian YouTube commenter, this dance duplicates how young horses are trained.  

The rhythm is 5/16, similar to the Bulgarian/Macedonian Paidusko.


If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dances From Oltenia, Part Five (links to the previous posts in the series)

Balkan Dances that are often Confused Part 23 (links to previous posts in the series)