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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused: Part 22: Sedi Donka and Serbez Donka

Music is the fastest motivator in the world.
Amit Kalantri

Today's post features more confusion from the world of Balkan dance!  They are both about a woman named Donka.

Serbez Donka is a dance from North Macedonia that has been very popular on Zoom during the spring and summer of 2020.  The dance has been around a while because the video below was created in 2011. I never knew it existed until this year. 

It has a catchy melody that will earworm itself into your brain and never move out. The music is in 7/8 (galloping-apple-apple).


People have been dancing Sedi Donka for a long time. This was the way we did it B.C. (Before Covid) with two lines facing each other. Notice the squeaking of dancers' shoes.  It must have been humid that day.

Sedi Donka has an interesting rhythm combination: 7/16 and 11/16.  See the notes for the details.


If you really want to impress your friends, do Sedi Donka at warp speed like Henry in the video below. I have heard there are even faster versions of this music somewhere on YouTube. Since this is a small space (like some of our living rooms) his style is impressive. 

Fast music is very motivating!

If you enjoyed this you may also like the rest of the series: Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused (the previous post published last month links to all of them. They will give you enough material to last until next year.)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused Part 21: Hora Mare Bukovina and Hora Mare Bukovineana

What's the difference between rain and grain? Only a g, though they both grow in the land, and they don't land but fall. What a difference a g makes!
 Ana Claudia Antunes

Time for more confusion in the world of Balkan dance. This time it's two dances from Romania. The names are so similar that it is easy to mix up one with the other. But like rain and grain they have something in common. Both are dances from Bukovina.

 Bukovina is a region located in two countries: southern Ukraine and northern Romania.

Video #1 is Hora Mare din Bukovina (large hora from Bukovina).  The Friday Greenbelt, Maryland group does this one. I was totally confused when I heard the music and expected something different. I couldn't find any notes for this dance.


Video #2 is a dance we used to do in our Sunday group B.C. (Before Covid).  I used to lead it when we had in-person dances.  My laptop is wired to a printer, scanner, and external hard drive, so to disconnect it in order for people to see my feet at a Zoom meeting would be difficult.  In the Zoom gallery, people can see my upper body and the hand motions which are also part of the dance.  

The dance in Video #2 has a similar name: Hora Mare Bukovineana. This is the music that is familiar to most folk dancers. 

Kudos to the dancers who have set up Zoom meetings and share them with us. It sounds rather complicated.  If you're interested, here is a series of articles on how to host meetings:


If you enjoyed this you will also like:

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 20 (links to the other posts in the series)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Songs about Kate from North Macedonia and Bulgaria

Kate, Kate, kaleš Kate, ajde Kate da begame!
Dorde v gora šuma ima, em po pole komuniga. 
Bulgarian folk song

The name Kate (pronounced Ka-te) is the shortened form of Katerina. Judging from the number of songs on YouTube, this is a popular name in North Macedonia and Bulgaria. 

Video #1,  Tri Godini Kate, is a dance song from North Macedonia. You can find the old, typewritten notes here. The rhythm is lesnoto 7/8 (galloping-apple-apple).

This is also a popular folk dance on Zoom.


Video #2 is another 7/8 lesnoto dance from Bulgaria: Kate Lichno Devojche.  It is from the southwest (Pirin) region of Bulgaria.  Notice how common the 7/8 lesnoto rhythm is in both North Macedonia and Pirin Bulgaria

Video #3 is Kate Katerino, from the Pirin region of Bulgaria. This is a modern version of a traditional song and it is not the entire song (maybe half of it). This is a fancy version done at a party with a lot of embellishments.

Video #4 is the traditional music with the dance. The instructor is Dimitar (Mitko) Petrov.


Video #5 is another Kate song from the Pirin region, Kate Kate Kalesh Kate.  The group is Cubrica from the Netherlands.  Although there is no dancing in this video, the music is a strong 9/16 (devetorka) rhythm popular in Pirin Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

The quote at the very top of this page is the first stanza of the song.  You can find the translation here:

My daughter has a variant of the name Katerina, her name is Katrina (like the hurricane) and she and her husband recently celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary.  She can run like the wind on an autumn day.

By the way, she didn't marry the teacher (like Kate in the song in Video #3 and Video #4)

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Serbian Dances that Sound Croatian

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

This can be a source of confusion sometimes, when one country's music sounds like another's.  Since I enjoy writing about confusion and Balkan dance it was time for another post on that topic.

Serbian music is usually associated with the accordion (some people find this an instrument of torture but the Serbs love it).  Croatian music is usually associated with the tamburitza orchestra.  The tamburitza orchestra includes a number of string instruments that give it its distinctive sound.

One thing I noticed is that Croatian kolo tends to start to the left and Serbian to the right.

Although most people associate tamburitza music with Croatia, it is also popular in Vojvodina, an autonomous province in Serbia.

The first example is the dance Rokoko Kolo.

Video #2  is the dance Keleruj ,also from  Vojvodina, Srem district. This is a performance of a school group. Notice the Hungarian flag in the background.  There is a significant Hungarian minority in Vojvodina.  It's the most diverse region in Serbia.

Vojvodina was ruled in turn by Romans, Slavs, Ottoman Turks, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  When the Austrian Empire broke up in 1918, parts of it became a part of Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists. After the Yugoslav wars, it split into different countries.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

The "Flavors" of Croatian Kolo

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Most Popular Balkan Folk Dances on Zoom: Part Four

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but the living room in your fortified compound.
Kurt Vonnegut

Today's post is a continuation of the series "Most Balkan Popular Folk Dances on Zoom."

Usually for dances to be popular on Zoom, the footwork has to be adapted to fit in a smaller space because most people dance in their living rooms.  Living rooms are not the only place where I've seen dancers: they also perform in kitchens and garages.  One woman I saw had a really small kitchen and she did the fast Romanian dance Vulpita.  She compressed it to fit in the space.

The series continues. I've spent a good part of the summer participating in Zoom dances.  There is usually at least one for every day of the week.  Most take place in the evening, and the ones that work best for me are on the East Coast.  I usually stay at the dance meetings until about 10 p.m. or so. When we danced in person that was the time the dances ended.

Video #1 is Dedo Mili Dedo (the song for this is also known as Dedo Mili Zlatni).  There is no English translation but from what I got from Google Translate the song describes an elderly couple going about their daily routine (Dedo means grandpa in Macedonian).  The group in the video is the Bonding Folkdance Dance Class from Taiwan.  They have many videos on YouTube.  I wonder if they have resumed in person dancing in Taiwan yet.  Their Covid stats are very low.  I'm sure these days if they do get together they dance in small groups and wear masks.

There is no way we could do that in the United States; the numbers are too high.

The dance Lesi is also very popular on Zoom The song for it also appears in the film Kapetan Lesi from the year 1960.  According to the YouTube comments, the song was created in 1930 by the Albanian composer Tish Daija and originally titled Po Vijne Krushqit Maleve.

Corlu Aroman is a dance from Dobrogea, in Romania. According to the notes, the dance is from the Macedonian ethnic group in Romania.  Corlu is another name for hora;  Aroman is another name for people of Romanian origin who live outside Romania. They settled in a number of Balkan countries: Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece among others. They are also known as Vlachs and speak a language related to Romanian.

The article in the link mentions "not to be confused with Armenians or Romanians." Readers of my blog know how I like to write about confusion: are you confused yet?

The music sounds neither Macedonian nor Romanian, except for the gaida (bagpipe) in the introduction.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Most Popular Balkan Dances on Zoom: Part Three (links to the others in the series)

Vlach Dances From Bulgaria and Serbia

Age is an Issue of Mind over Matter: Old People in Balkan Folk Songs

Dances from Oltenia: Part Two

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Most Popular Balkan Folk Dances on Zoom: Part Three

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius.
Larry Leissner

Tsigansko Horo is a dance popular in Bulgaria as well as North America.  It bears a slight resemblance to Chichovo Horo, another Bulgarian dance.  Video #1 shows a dance group from Bulgaria. The song is actually Serbian. by Sanja Ilich and Balkanika. You can find the lyrics here.

You can read more about the song Djipaj and its associated dance in the first post link listed below.

Another dance that I have frequently seen on Zoom sessions is De Secerat, from Romania. It is a women's harvest song.  It was introduced by Cristian Florescu and Sonia Dion.

The group is Balkanitsa, from Haifa, in Israel. This is another sing along song!  If anyone can find the lyrics please post them in the "comments" section.

The next dance, originally taught by Yves Moreau, made popular by Murray Spiegel on his bi-weekly Wednesday night Zoom sessions, is Vidinsko Horo. He has a teaching video on Youtube as well, with the faster parts slowed down.

Murray mentioned that Boris Karlov (the musician, not the actor, here we go with that confusion thing) composed the music.  As a matter of fact, many of our dances use the music of Boris Karlov: for example: Bavno Oro, Gankino Horo, and Zizaj Nane (a daichovo dance with calls). You can read about it in post #2 below.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

(Almost) The Same Music, Different Dance: Part Two

Call and Response: Daichovo Horo

The Legacy of Boris Karlov, Bulgarian Folk Accordionist

Here are the links to Part Two and Part One

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

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Most Popular Balkan Folk Dances on Zoom: Part Two

Aside from singing, I'm also a dancer. I've been dancing since I was 8.
Billie Eilish

Valle Pogonishte is one of the most popular Albanian dances.  People love the melody and sing along with it. You can find the lyrics here. The translation, in German, describes a festival in the Chameria region of Albania.  Fritz, the teacher in the video, calls out the steps in German.

The group is from a workshop in Austria.  They sing along, too. If you're a trivia buff, the artist for this song is Sami Kallmi.

Siriul is a dance from the Muntenia region of Romania.  There are two versions: one with vocals and one without.  I prefer the one with singing.  Here are the lyrics if you want to sing along. There is also an English translation on the lyrics page. There is a mention of a place called Buzau that is a river in Romania. Siriul Mare is one of the tributaries. (Note: this is not a song about what you eat for breakfast! If you like confusion, there is a post at the bottom of this page for you).

If you listen to the music carefully at about 1:50 and also again 2:47 it evokes the sound of flowing water.

Another Romanian dance popular on Zoom is Hora Banateana. Thanks to Riki Adivi (who does Thursday night Zoom sessions at 8 p.m. Eastern Time) and the video, I'm learning the dance. For those who prefer written instructions I have also included the dance notes.

Banat is a region shared by three counties: Romania, Serbia, and Hungary.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Most Popular Folk Dances on Zoom, Part One

And for those who enjoy confusion there's a 20 post series:
Balkan Dances that are Often Confused, Part 20 (this post has links to the rest of the series.)

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