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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused Part 16: Staro Pomaško and Pomaško Širto

I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed.
Robert Frost

The series continues....

The other night I mixed up Staro Pomaško with a totally different dance, Pomaško Širto.  The lady who was programming even got confused and played both dances one after the other, so we could compare them.

Staro Pomaško, in video #1, was first.  It is a dance from the Rhodope region in southern Bulgaria, in 7/8 rhythm (slow-quick-quick), almost like a Macedonian lesnoto (along with step-lifts during the vocal part).

Pomaks are Bulgarian Muslims.   Most of them live in the southern part of the country.



Pomaško Širto is also a Pomak dance in 7/8.  The original music had a very long gaida (bagpipe) introduction; part of it was cut.

Širto is the Bulgarian version of the Greek Syrtos.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens, Part One

Dospatsko Horo is a very well-known Pomak dance from the Rhodope region..

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Tune: Dospatsko Horo


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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Folk Dance Holiday Parties

The real friends are the ones who celebrate with you.
Ella Purnell

Today's post features dance parties with a holiday theme. It doesn't matter which holiday you celebrate as long as it falls in December.

Video #1 is a lively Romanian dance, Briuletul, performed by the International Folk Dancers of Ottawa, Canada.



Koleda wouldn't be fun without a lot of loud noise (to chase away the evil spirits) and dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes. After the noise, there's Shopsko Horo (0:39) and at 2:06 the kids dance a rachenitsa for three. The video ends with a fancy men's pravo .This group is from St. Louis, in the USA.



Video #3 is about 20 minutes long and features the folk ensembles listed below. See below for the order in which they appear: 

Dancers: RIPNI KALINKE, San Jose, MARTENICHKI Family Group, ANTIKA Folk Ensemble, San Francisco, TANYA KOSTOVA, Founder, Artistic Director

VASSIL & MARIA BEBELEKOVI (gaida & vocal), NESTINARY BG Orchestra

Notice the ugly Christmas sweaters in the first group, doing a daichovo. (0:20 to 3:47) There is also a dancer wearing a Santa hat, not a part of the traditional Bulgarian folk costume.  Other familiar dances include: Padjusko at 2:55,  Trite Puti at 11:35, Rhodope Pravo at 14:35, and Graovsko Horo at 19:40.

This party took place in the San Francisco area of California.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens (the series)

Bulgarian Folk Dance Around the World

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Dancing in Nines: Daichovo, Dzanguritsa and Svornato

Today's post features three dances from three different regions of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is Daichovo Horo.  It is a dance originally from northwestern Bulgaria, and the musical accompaniment to this is usually a brass band or an accordion.

The style is pure northern Bulgarian, with arm swinging, bounciness, and crossovers (typical of Vlach dances). The rhythm is in 9/16: quick-quick-quick-slow. The accent is on the first beat, although the fourth is the longest.  This variation uses some of the Zizaj Nane steps, but none of the calls.

What makes this particular daichovo interesting is the music:  It has a strong Macedonian accent. The most emphasized instrument is the tambura,  more typical of southwestern (Pirin) region and Northern Macedonia.  You can also hear gaida (in the introduction), kaval (at 1:20), and tambura (at 1:57).  The tupan keeps the rhythm going, although it's hard to hear it in the background.

The group, Gergiovden, is from Barcelona, in Catalonia (an autonomous province in Spain).  Bulgarian culture is alive and well in that part of the world.



Dzanguritsa is a dance from the Pirin region.  It is also in 9/16 and the same rhythm as Devetorka, but a totally different choreography. Rhythm is quick-quick-quick-slow. You can hear the tambura in the background in this piece, too. It's not as strong as in the previous video.



Video # 3 is Svornato Horo from the Rhodope region in southern Bulgaria.  The music is played on the kaba gaida.  The dance begins with the devetorka step and there is an up and down arm movement at the end of each sequence.



Video #4 is a more basic version of Svornato, and it's the one we use at our dances. It's nice to have a dance room in which to practice, but I don't know how this lady can stand that awful shade of pink.  It reminds me of Pepto Bismol.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens (the series)

Mandolins, Marimbas, and Bulgarian Folk Music


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Friday, November 23, 2018

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Svatba

Wedding Fever is one of the scariest diseases I've ever seen.
Jessica Valenti

Today's featured song is Svatba (сватба in Bulgarian Cyrillic).  It means "wedding" in English.  The singer  in Video #1 is   Nikolina Chakardakova who is best known for folk songs from the Pirin region of Bulgaria.

You can find the lyrics here, in Bulgarian.  I couldn't find a translation into English.

The tune is very catchy.  I would classify it as an earworm because it takes up residence in your head long after the song is over.  Musicians play the zurna during the introduction at 0:45 (an instrument loud enough to wake the dead and intimidate enemies.)  The Turks brought the zurna to the Balkans.  It didn't intimidate the people of the Pirin.  Instead, it became an important part of their folk music.

Check out the part at 4:33 where the singer stands on top of the drums, with the guys dancing around her.  She gives a really good show.  The costumed dancers are eye candy too.

I imagine Pirin weddings must have been loud enough to be heard in the next town, maybe even as far as Blagoevgrad.



Version #2 of Svatba is the one we learned during a Lee Otterholt workshop.  Not as fancy as the first one but it was fun.  The moves in Video #1 would have been too much for a bunch of weekend dancers.



If you enjoyed this you may also like: A Bulgarian New Year Celebration with Nikolina Charkadakova

What happens when 100 people play the zurna:
The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra

Today's post features an excellent group from Barcelona, Spain with a couple of Serbian musicians playing frula and accordion (in Video #1). They are the Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra. (Don't mind the weird typing but that is how they spell it.  It is on their logo, too.) The group's members are diverse as you can see on their web page; they are united in their love for Balkan music.

They do an excellent job playing the rhythms of the Balkans. At 3:48 the music sounds like a fast U Sest and at 4:55 the rhythm changes to kopanitsa then at 6:22 to a fast rachenitsa (apple-apple-pineapple). The singer and the tarambuka player are the rhythm section.



Video #2 is a dramatic performance of the popular song Makendonsko Devojce. This is the tune that we often use at the end of dance sessions. It is lesnoto, another rhythm grouped in sevens (pineapple-apple-apple).

At 1:45 the audience joins in with the refrain.  This repeats throughout the song.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Modern Versions of Traditional Macedonian Folk Songs

Dancing in Sevens

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Dancing in Circles: Serbian Kolo on YouTube

The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.
John Hartford

Kolo is a dance from the countries which used to be part of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia. The literal translation of the word is "wheel" and kolo is often danced in a circle, but not always.  According to a tweet from UNESCO: "Kolo, traditional folk dance just inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Congratulations, #Serbia!"

Today's post features two kolo videos from Serbia and one from Canada.

Video #1 is a group of young people dancing in the street in Belgrade, Serbia. The group's name is Krsmanac. They perform a medley of dances that people who folk dance regularly will recognize. Two of them are U Šest and Čačak.



Video #2 took place during a halftime show at a basketball game in Toronto, Canada. Skip the intro and start at 1:00.  The dance that begins the medley resembles Bulgarian rachenitsa, apple-apple-pineapple, in 7/16 time. Čačak begins at 4:14.



Video #3 is Malo Kolo  (small circle dance) from Banat, from a festival that took place in Novi Sad in 2011. This dance is anything but small and it is not to be confused with another dance with the same name from Croatia.  This is a large group dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes. Check out the small circle in the middle of the crowd at 4:00.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

The "Flavors" of Serbian Cacak

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Tune: Bucimis

I'm attached to the beat. The beat speaks words. I love music.
Travis Scott

One of the most popular (and difficult) folk dances is Bucimis from the Thracian region of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is the melody and the dance we know and love.  It is short, only a minute and half long.



This tune has made the rounds in some musical circles (pardon the pun).  It is challenging to play because it's in 15/16.

Odd time signatures are very common in Balkan music.  This is the only dance I know of in 15.  Western musicians in general, have difficulty internalizing the rhythms because they are so used to music in 2's and 4's.

In the next two videos, the musicians have mastered the rhythm.  They also play it on instruments not usually used in Bulgarian folk music (except for accordion in Video #2, and tarambuka in Video #3).

Video #2 starts with a very long drum solo.  For some reason drummers have a field day with this piece. The melody, played on mandolin and accordion, starts at 2:50.



In video #3, a group that usually performs Middle Eastern and medieval music, plays Bucimis with violin, two recorders, drum, tarambuka, and oud.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Classical Musicians Play Balkan Folk Music

Mandolins, Marimbas, and Bulgarian Folk Music

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