Friday, July 22, 2011

Bulgarian Dances and their Greek Relatives

A lot of cross-cultural pollination takes place in the Balkans. Today's post is about Bulgarian dances that have cousins in Greece. Both countries have a region named Thrace, and it is from this area that these dances originate. Thrace includes what is now southern Bulgaria, northern Greece, and a part of Turkey.

The Pravo is a dance that has been around. It is known by different names in different countries; it is supposedly the most widespread dance in the world.

This is a basic Bulgarian dance, the one everyone does at weddings and parties. Its name is Pravo Trakiisko Horo, which in English means "straight Thracian dance." Bulgarians do crooked dances too, these are called Krivo and they will be described in a future post.

This is a slightly faster and more challenging Pravo from the same region. Notice the "basket hold" in which the dancers place arms over each other, like the weave of a basket. This alone makes the dance a little harder...if you screw up the steps, you can mess up the line, which is why you should always pay close attention to the leader. These guys know exactly what they're doing, and they are a pleasure to watch.

The Greek version of the Pravo is the Zonaradiko. The name comes from the belt hold that the dancers use; the Greek word for belt is zonaria . It's similar to the basket hold in the previous video.

Trite Puti is a favorite of Balkan dancers, and it's from the Thracian region of Bulgaria. It means "three times", which has to do with the movement of the feet. It's an odd number of steps in an even tempo (2/4).

The dance doesn't undergo much of a change when it crosses the Greek border, except for the name, Troiro. The arm swinging and the steps are very familiar and so is the gaida (bagpipe) music.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like Bulgarian Folk Music Travels Abroad, a cross-cultural experience beginning in Bulgaria.

Dances in the same family can be found here:

Euclid was from ancient Greece, and he was the father of geometry. Read about the relationship of geometry to Balkan dancing here:

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