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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Best of Slavi's Show

Talent does what it can, genius does what it must.
Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Recently I have been watching excerpts from Slavi's Show on YouTube.  The host is a very talented man who has captivated late night Bulgarian TV watchers since 2000. 

This show features Bulgarian pop and folk music and Slavi (full name Slavi Trifonov), with his Ku-Ku Band, have hosted numerous performers.  It is the Bulgarian version of the Tonight Show (the older version with Johnny Carson as MC.)  Unfortunately, the last broadcast of Slavi's Show will be on 31 July 2019.

Video #1 is a sing-along.  The song is Nazad, Nazad, Mome Kalino. I don't know the name of the woman who sings with him, if anyone out there knows who she is, please post her name in the "comments" section.

Note: in the lower right hand corner of the video, there is a logo for Seven-Eight Productions.  7/8 is a very common dance rhythm in the Balkans (especially in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania).  There are different forms of 7/8: lesnoto, chetvorno, and rachenitsa. depending on the grouping of the beats.  This song is a 7/8 lesnoto.



In Video #2 Slavi sings Svatba. This is a different song from the one that we dance to (sung by Nikolina Chakardakova).  It means "wedding" in Bulgarian.  If anyone out there can get me the lyrics for Svatba, please post them in the comments.

The drummers in the intro are amazing.  They play for nearly two minutes!



Video #3 is another Slavi sing along. This time it's the Bulgarian National Anthem. You can feel the excitement here, as well as the Bulgarians' love for their country (too bad the end was cut off abruptly).



If you enjoyed this, you can watch many more excerpts of Slavi's Show on YouTube or on his official site. You may also like these posts:

Variations on the Bulgarian folk dance: Svatba

Folklore and Eurovision

Bits and Pieces:  More Folklore and Pop Culture from the Universe of YouTube

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bulgaro-Macedonian Sing Along Songs


The world has only one border. It is called humanity. The differences between us are small compared to our shared humanity. Put humans first.
Nadia Murad

Today's post features the Bulgarian singer Nikolina Chakardakova with a medley of Bulgaro-Macedonian folk songs. There are links to them in the same order as in the video.  I was able to find translations for most of these  (some in German, some in English) and transliterations via The Songbook for Nearsighted People compiled by Birgitt Karlson.  Songs that weren't in the Songbook I found at various websites including Wikipedia, where you can find almost everything.

These songs are excellent examples of songs that cross borders.  They are popular both in Bulgaria and in Northern Macedonia. Sing along with Nikolina!

Makendonsko Devojce
(Macedonian transliteration with German translation)

Zemi Ogin, Zapali Me
(Bulgarian Cyrillic lyrics)

Nazad, Nazad Mome Kalino
(Bulgarian to English translation and transliteration)

Ako Umram il Zaginam
(Macedonian transliteration, translations in German and English)

More Sokol Pie
(English translation)

Jovano Jovanke
(Macedonian to English, no transliteration)

Ludo Mlado
(Bulgarian transliteration and German translation)

We have sung and/or danced to all of these at one time or another. Usually our dances end with a lesnoto in 7/8 time.  The dancers here do a ten minute lesnoto sing-along that is fun to watch. 



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Bulgarian New Year Celebration (with Nikolina Chakardakova)

Dancing in Sevens, Part Two (there is a link to Part One in this post)

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dancing by the Numbers, Part Two

Numbers constitute the only universal language.
Nathaniel West

Today's featured dance is the 16 Count Tsamiko.  It's slightly more complicated than the basic Tsamiko that is usually done at Greek festivals.  We do it at the Sunday night dances.

The dance is sometimes called Tsamikos.  In Video #1 the spelling is "Chamiko." This dance and its variations may have originated with the Cham people; ethnic Albanians who lived in Greece.



This is the Tsamiko dance that we do when we're not dancing the 16 count version. It is often done at Greek festivals. Notice that it's the same music as video #1. At 1:54 the leader introduces a variation.  She also does a few turns: some leaders embellish the basic dance with turns, jumps and acrobatics.  Male leaders tend to do this more than women, but there are exceptions.



Since The Alien Diaries is an equal opportunity blog, the Tsamiko in Video #3 shows a female leader in an all female line doing some masculine moves that include turns, jumps, and knee bends. She spices it up with shouts.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing by the Numbers

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dances from Oltenia Part Two

You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.
Merce Cunningham

At the Friday night and Sunday night dances there are a number of dances from the Romanian region of Oltenia in our repertoire. They tend to be fast, with lots of crossing, stamps, and grapevines.

One that we're working on is Hora Lui Chisar. The music is delightful with caval, cimbalom and panpipes.



The next dance is VulpitaIt translates to "little fox" in English. We have been doing this one a long time.  It's short, only a minute and a half but really fast.



This is a dance I would like to introduce to the Sunday night group.  One of the Friday night leaders taught it a few years ago.  The one thing I remember about Hora Spoitorilor is that the first figure is in the form of a square.



Another favorite of ours is Rustemul. This is the tune that we use, although there are others out there. There are also other versions of Rustemul as well; you can see an example in Dances From Oltenia (part one).



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dances from Oltenia

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance Trei Pazeste

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused Part Nine: Cimpoi and Sirba din Cimpoi

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Horo for the Dead


Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. – Albert Einstein

On Orthodox Easter Monday, the Bulgarian National Radio published a post on a Vlach custom: The Horo for the Dead.

It is done in the Northwest (Severnjasko) region of Bulgaria, a place where the population is aging and dying and few young people are born to replace them. The people in this region get together at the Albotin monastery or in the town square with pictures of relatives who died since the previous Easter. Unfortunately, the custom may disappear because the authorities don't support it.

Their way of mourning the dead is to dance with them in spirit. Each dancer holds the picture of a deceased relative. Most of the people in the line are elderly, although there are a few young people. They dance a slow pravo horo, accompanied either by an accordion or brass band.

I found this post shortly I had been notified of the death of a relative in Puerto Rico.  She was my aunt, who passed on at the ripe old age of 88.

This custom reminds me of the Mexican Day of the Dead, when relatives visit cemeteries and bring food and drink for themselves and the spirits of the departed.  They decorate the graves and celebrate the lives of their deceased friends and relatives.

The Sunday night group used to have a memorial dance in June. Tom Pixton (who is fantastic on the accordion), played requests from the group, usually a favorite dance in memory of a member who had passed on.  Our group is aging and few young people are replacing them. In that respect we are much like the northwest region of Bulgaria.

Here is the video (entirely in Bulgarian). It begins with a church service. It is worth watching in its entirety; but if you're limited on time the dancing (with accordion and drum accompaniment) starts at 11:34.  The dance in the town square, accompanied by a brass band starts at 15:00.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bring on the Border Crossers, Part Two

We are all human beings, and our nationality is simply an accident of birth.
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

There are dances that have elements in common, even though they are from different countries.  Alunelul from (Romania) is a very popular children's dance.. Here the grown-ups have taken over. Video #1 includes instruction and a translation of the lyrics.  This version is instrumental; for the vocal check out Video #2.



Vocal version with sing-along lyrics:



Video #3 is Podaraki, a dance from Greece with similar steps.  The music sounds more like something from Bulgarian Dobrudja than Greece.  Must be the accordion and the stamping.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bring on the Border Crossers!

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance Alunelul
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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused, Part 17: Opinca and Opincuta

It's sensational to be part of a series that takes on a life of its own.
Robert Wagner

The series continues: who knew that the names of so many Balkan dances were so confusing?

Today's dances are similar when it comes to name (an additional syllable), the first from Romania (Bukovina), the second from Moldova. Moldova is a separate country, although they speak the Romanian language.  Their folk music is very similar to Romanian.  To confuse matters even more, there is a region named Moldavia (Moldova) in Romania.

Opinca is a dance very popular in my Sunday night group. The name is derived from the Romanian word for peasant sandals, now used as dance shoes.  They are made of leather and tied to the feet with leather strips. Nobody in the video is wearing them.



Opincuta is a totally different dance. If you click on the link you can find the dance notes as well as the lyrics, so you can sing along.

The leader is Roy Butler.  He has many videos on YouTube.  He is really into folk dancing, especially Romanian dances.



If you enjoyed this you will also like:

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused: Part 16.  This post links to the others in the series. You can spend a good part of a day reading them and still be confused.

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