Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Horo and the Diversity of the Different Folklore Regions

Bulgaria has a lot of diversity for a country its size, and has six folklore regions. Today's post will explore three of them, by way of music.

The rachenitsa is the national dance of Bulgaria and you can discover the different "flavors" of it here:


Horo means "chain dance" in English. The rachenitsa, on the other hand, can be danced solo, in couples or in a group. This is the group version, "na horo."

The first region is northwestern Bulgaria (Severnjasko) which borders Romania and Serbia. The dances of this area are characterized with exuberence, feet hardly touching the ground, arm swinging in time with the steps,and are often accompanied by brass band music. By the way, Diko Iliev, who composed the famous Dunavkso Horo, was from this region, and was a master of music for brass bands. You can read about him here:


This is a performance of Chichovo Horo by Berkovska Duhova Muzika mixed with a little tequila. This is from a Bulgarian TV show and fun to watch!

The next video is that of three ladies from the United States performing Dobrudjanska Reka, a very popular dance that just about every international folk dance group has in its repetoire. Dobrudja is in the northeast part of Bulgaria, bordering Romania, and the dances there are characterized by stamping, bent knees and strong hand movements. As the man in the video remarks, "that's the way to do it!"

The next video is of the dance Bucimis, from the region of Thrace in central Bulgaria. The footwork is tricky, and so is the rhythm, especially when you're holding the belts of the people next to you. The time signature for this dance is 15/16 (for you music theorists out there, 15 beats to the measure, 16th note takes the beat.) In English translation, that means quick-quick-quick-quick-slow-quick-quick. Bucimis is very popular with international folk dance groups, probably because of its complexity, and its speed. These dancers make it look easy.

The three other regions (Rhodope, Pirin, and Shoppe) will be covered in part 2.


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