Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Those Who Can't Dance Say the Music is No Good" (Jamaican Proverb)

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
~Kurt Vonnegut

There are times I find myself dancing in the living room, usually when no one is home. My husband and daughters don't appreciate Bulgarian folk music, especially when it's played on loud "obnoxious" bagpipes and accordions. You couldn't pay them to dance to what I listen to which is why joined a group of like minded friends who dance on Friday (and sometimes Sunday) nights.

I enjoy dances from all over the Balkans, but am particularly partial to those from Bulgaria. Here a few of my favorites, complete with the aforementioned obnoxious musical instruments.

I originally learned Mitro from watching it on YouTube. I was delighted when one of the leaders of the Sunday night group introduced this dance, since I already knew it! Mitro is a modern version of Pravo Horo (the most popular dance in Bulgaria). It's from the Rhodope region, where they can get a little crazy with the bagpipes, the introduction will certainly get your attention. And the stamping is one way to get your frustations after a rough day.

Another of my favorite dances is Vlaško. This was originally a men's dance, complete with stamping and fast footwork (so the guys could show off their stuff), but nowadays, women get in the line (and even lead!) since the macho dances are much more fun. The name Vlaško comes from the Vlachs (Wallachian) people who were originally from southern Romania. They got around, and there are signficant numbers of them in Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. There are many dances in the Balkans with the name Vlaško:  this one is from Bulgaria.

The lesnoto, or pravoto is very popular, especially in the Pirin region of Bulgaria, which shares a border with Macedonia. The lesnoto is one of those dances in an odd rhythm (7/8 for your music theorists out there); "pineapple-apple-apple", and it's very easy. It's basically walking with a few step-lifts thrown in. Even little kids can do it.

This band does an excellent job with Idam ne Idam; the dance that goes with the song is a lesnoto variation. The gaida player is fantastic, and so is the singing, although I know some people who would disagree with that. Bulgarian folk music, especially when played on bagpipes, is something people either love or hate. A Jamaican proverb describes it best: "those who can't dance say the music is no good."

For more on lesnoto read:

If you enjoyed this you may also like my series on the clarinet, the accordion and the bagpipe in Bulgarian folk music.

If you're looking for a socially acceptable way to rid yourself of stress, read:

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