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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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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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Monday, June 22, 2020

Most Popular Balkan Dances on Zoom: Part One

Human history has a repeating theme: we battle pandemics, we lose, we die, it burns itself out, and we rebuild. We always come out the other side stronger. Humanity marches on.
― A.G. Riddle

Things have changed so much in the past few months.

The last time I went to a live folk dance was March 1st. The following week I made a trip to Florida to visit my relatives. As soon as I returned on the 10th things went bad very quickly: Connecticut had declared a state of emergency.

The group was discussing cancelling dancing because there was a state of emergency in Connecticut, Shortly afterwards, scary announcements starting popping up on the news.

Coronavirus spread like wildfire (it had been spreading here in the U.S. probably since January.  Yet people continued their normal lives (working, shopping, eating out, having weekly dance meetings).  I had planned a trip to Florida in March and didn't think there would have been a problem (although we did take out insurance in case the trip had to be cancelled).  We had thought snow or bad weather would have been an issue.  It wasn't. So my husband and I went to see relatives and visit the theme parks.

(Epcot Spaceship Earth on March 7, 2020)

The parks were crowded, the weather was pleasant, and coronavirus was the last thing on our minds.  The State of Florida did not take this seriously until all Florida theme parks closed on the 15th.  People still congregated on the beach for Spring Break until the following weekend.

 My husband and I returned on the 10th wondering if we had been exposed to the virus during our trip.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, both venues where I dance were closed until further notice. Balkan Music Night and NEFFA were cancelled. All in-person dance events were cancelled until further notice. They have been replaced by Zoom meetings.

Surprisingly, so far, we have been healthy.  Those of us who are feeling well enough to dance have been suffering from withdrawal.  A group in California addressed this with a Virtual Folk Dance Party on the Zoom platform. After that, other groups followed suit. There is an event every day of the week.  They are listed on Dale Adamson's web site.

In the meantime we can dance in the safety of our homes.  It's not the same, but at least we can still connect.

Today's post is part one of a series: Most Popular Balkan Folk Dances on Zoom. The first one is a dance just about every group does: Indijksi Cocek.  There is more than one tune for this dance; this one is the one played most often.

Video #2 is Gori More, a dance that originated from the Serbian community in Racine, Wisconsin, based on a pop song. If you listen closely, at 1:38 you can hear the melody to Zaiko Kokorajko, a folk song from North Macedonia.

If anyone can provide an English translation of the lyrics, please post them in the comments section.

Video #3 is Zek Zek Dadumle.  The song is an earworm (I actually find it quite annoying) but everyone on Zoom seems to love it.  It's a Chalga song, in Bulgarian, and requested at almost every dance event.  I call it the Theme Song of the 2020 Pandemic (it was introduced in April by Roberto Bagnoli at a Folk Arts Center workshop).  The workshop was held online, via Zoom.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Alien Diaries Best of the Worst: Earworms From the Balkans

Songs that Tell A Story

Stay tuned for more Most Popular Balkan Dances on Zoom, Part Two.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Dances From Oltenia, Part Three

The world is a very noisy place and so I don't need to shout about things. There are so many people shouting and a lot of people get lost in it.
Ben Howard

I never thought there would be a part three to the series "Dances from Oltenia."  My YouTube search came up with numerous dances.

The first dance has "Alunelul" in the title.  There are many "Alunelul" dances from Oltenia.

Oltenia is a region in southern Romania.  It borders Serbia to the west, and Bulgaria to the south.

Video #1 is the group Hora Romanesaca.  The dance, Alunelul de Briu, was performed at a Romanian festival in Boulder, Colorado, in the United States. This dance has shouts (in Romanian, strigaturi).  I wish I understood what they were saying!

Video #2 is the Dunav group from Jerusalem, Israel.  The dance, Poloxia Din Bechet, is from a town across the Danube from Oriahovo, Bulgaria.  Oriahovo is best known as the town where the composer Diko Iliev spent the most productive period of his life.

Dances are often named after towns or regions, and sometimes after people.  Poloxia Din Bechet is another dance with strigaturi.  There is something really cool about shouting while dancing, especially when the dance includes stamping as well.

Video #3 is a Rustemul dance from the region near Dolj. This group from Taiwan describes itself as a "Bonding Folkdance Class." You can find their playlist here.

There are several versions of Rustemul, done to different music.  I have never seen this version done in the States.

Video #4 is Salcuira, also performed by the Bonding Folkdance Class.  People from China and Japan, especially, seem to be fond of Balkan music, and of folk dancing in general.  Their enthusiasm is fun to watch.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dances From Oltenia, Parts One and Two (there is a link to Part One in Part Two.)

The Different "Flavors" of the Romanian Folk Dance Alunelul

If you want to know more about Diko Iliev, click this link:

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 20: Kasapsko Oro and Kasapsko Horo

If we each had to butcher our own meat, there would be a great increase in the number of vegetarians.
Ernest Howard Crosby

First of all, I would like to mention that I am not a vegetarian. Or vegan.  I eat meat. As a child, I went on weekly trips with my dad to the butcher shop.  He saved my dad the best cuts of pork chops and steaks. His shop had sawdust on the floor and he wrapped the meat in waxed paper.

It's time for the 20th installment of "confusion, Balkan style" and it has to do with butchers, who provide carnivores and omnivores (human and animal) with a steady supply of meat.

"Kasap" comes from the Turkish word for butcher. The Balkan region was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years.

In the Balkans, the butchers also danced!  Today's dances are from North Macedonia and Bulgaria. There are three different dances with similar names but different music; you have to be specific on which "Kasapsko" when requesting one of these dances. The Bulgarian ones come from two different regions which adds even more to the confusion.  You read this blog to become confused, right?

Video #1 is Kasapsko Oro from North Macedonia.

Video #2 is Kasapsko Horo from northwest Bulgaria. What adds even more to the confusion that it's the same group, Dunav, from Jerusalem, Israel. You would think that a group from Israel would be into Israeli dance, but they specialize in dances from the Balkans and the Middle East.

Video #3 is Kasapsko Horo, this time from southwest Bulgaria (Pirin).  Different music and different choreography from Video #2.  These dancers wear elaborate embroidered costumes; this time it's a performing group from Bulgaria.

The zurna, an instrument that resembles the oboe, originally from Turkey, has also become part of the music of the Pirin region of Bulgaria as well as North Macedonia. (There is no zurna in this piece, but you can read about it in the one of the posts listed below. It is an instrument people either love or hate).

Video #4 shows a kind-hearted butcher from Istanbul, Turkey who converses with a cat and offers her choice cuts of meat. She was a daily visitor to his shop .  The cat's name was Yesim. Yesim came to the shop every day for five years, and the butcher, Ikram Korkmazer, took care of her.

Istanbul is known for its stray cat population.  The cats walk into stores and people feed them. They are ferals who maintain their independence and for the most part, have passing relationships with humans. 

Unfortunately, Yesim got sick from dehydration and hypothermia from living on the street; Ikram the butcher took her to an animal hospital. Unfortunately, she passed on.

This video is a loving tribute to Yesim and the butcher. Her favorite food was liver. She asked for it by name 😺.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 19: (you will find a link to the rest of the never ending series at the end of this post.

The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music (cultural cross-pollination)

The Butchers' Dance in Balkan Folklore (includes Hasapiko, dance of the butchers' guild in Greece)

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the National Dance of Bulgaria

Dancing - however you do it, even if it's in your living room - is a great workout.

Festivals and in-person dancing, unfortunately, have been cancelled for a while until a vaccine or effective treatment can be found for Covid-19. These days the place to dance is your living room, via a Zoom connection. 

One of my favorite dances, rachenitsa, is the national dance of Bulgaria. Today's post will educate you about it.  If you have been reading this blog on a regular basis, you will know almost as much about rachenitsa as the Bulgarians. They, of course, know more about it than we do.

Tom Pixton does a great job of explaining the dance with text in Video #1.  He also arranged and played the music. He is a musician from the Boston area who plays at various gigs in New England.

This compilation is a delight for the eyes and ears. It is very well put together.

Rachenitsa na Horo means to dance rachenitsa in a line as opposed to solo or couple. We usually do the line rachenitsa at dances.

There are plenty of them, from every folklore region of Bulgaria.  I believe the music in Video #1 is a Thracian tune.  Thrace is the largest folklore region of Bulgaria. There is also a Thrace in Greece as well as one in Turkey, a source of confusion for some people.

Video #2 is a Thracian Rachenitsa. This is a dance performed in the town square during celebrations and holidays (just for the fun of it).  The dancers are of varying abilities; some are confident and some are hesitant.  The gadulka, gaida, clarinet, and accordion are important instruments in Bulgarian folk music.

The gadulka is the most Bulgarian of folk instruments, even more so than the gaida (bagpipe).  Some people find the "buzzy" sound takes some getting used to but I love it. You can hear the gadulka in the video from 1:06 to 2:18.

Video #3 is a rachenitsa arranged for violin. Although I have listened to Bulgarian tunes arranged for non-Bulgarian instruments such as the violin, piano, and marimba, the ensembles that played them kept the Bulgarian soul of the music.  To me this is just a classical piece in 7/8; it just doesn't sound Bulgarian. This melody is Bulgarian in name only.

Rachenitsa can be in 7/8 or 7/16; it depends on the speed of the music.  The best way to get the rhythm is to say the words apple-apple-pineapple.

Video #4 is another classical rendition of rachenitsa. This one is much closer to its Bulgarian roots.  The music is by Petko Stainov, Bulgarian composer who lived from 1896-1977.  It's part of his suite: Thracian Dances.

What is unusual about this version is that it was arranged for brass instruments. Stainov originally wrote it for symphony orchestra. (if you want to hear the symphonic arrangement, read the post on Petko Stainov below.)

Brass music is very popular in northwest Bulgaria and also in Thrace.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on a Theme by Petko Stainov: Rachenitsa Travels to Guatemala

Classical Musicians Play Balkan Folk Music

The Accordion in Bulgarian Folk Music

The Gadulka in Bulgarian Folk Music

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Thracian Rachenitsa

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

(Almost) the Same Music Different Dance: Part Two

It's a crazy world, so sports and athletics and music can be a form of escapism.
Eddie Veder

The world has indeed changed in the past two months.  Many of us are under stay at home orders and cannot get together in person to dance anymore for a while.  I have taken to music as a form of escape. It keeps my mind away from all the gloom and doom reports.  There are also plenty of Zoom dance events these days.  It's not the same, but I get some exercise from them.

It's time for some cultural cross-pollination between Bulgaria and Serbia. The dances are Bulgarian, the music is from Serbia.

Video #1 is Tsigansko Horo from Bulgaria. The performing group is Nadigrai Me (also the name of a competitive folk dance show that was broadcast in Bulgaria 10 years ago.  It lasted for several seasons.) The dance is similar to Chichovo Horo, with some fancier moves. Listen to the music carefully.

Video #2 is a crazy version of Chichovo Horo, another Bulgarian dance performed by Lyush from Dallas, Texas. They use the song Kermes by Sanja Ilic and Balkanika.  It's similar to the music in Video #1.  The main difference is that the melody is played on a gaida instead of brass instruments. The chorus part is the same (at 1:25).

Why does the music in Video #1 and Video #2 sound similar?  It's the same band, Sanja Ilic and Balkanika.   They are very popular in Serbia, and have performed at Guca, a brass band festival that takes place every year in August.  They also participated the Eurovision Song Contest for 2018, and placed 19th. (Unfortunately the contest has been cancelled for 2020 because of coronavirus concerns, but you can find this year's songs on YouTube.)

This is a totally wild video with a little bit of everything, an auto mechanic, a man with a bullhorn, an oboe player, women cleaning a fancy car, even a dog!

You can find the lyrics for Djipaj (in Serbian) here.

At the end the ladies push the car.  The "mechanic" couldn't fix it!

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

A Sense of Deja Vu

Almost the Same Music, Different Dance: Part One

Eurovision and Folklore

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