Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dancing by the Numbers

Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting. ~Gottfried Leibniz

People in the Balkans seem to have an obsession with numbers, which is probably why they're so good at math. They are good at dancing as well, after all it's just a matter of counting.

Today's post is about dances named after numbers. The first one, from Serbia, is the Five Figure Cacak. If you watch carefully, you'll notice a three-two-one pattern very common to Serbian dances. There are five different sequences (figures) and each one is repeated. Twice.

Chetvorno is a dance connected with the number four, which is четири,(chetiri) in Bulgarian. In Cyrillic, the "ch" resembles a 4.

If you are looking for the children's game "Connect Four", you'll find it here :)

Trite Puti, another dance from Bulgaria, translates to "three times." Three times what? Despite the fact that math was not my favorite subject, I like this dance very much. Three happens to be one of my lucky numbers. In numerology, three is the number of artistic talent, creativity, and a way with words. In astrology it corresponds to the sign Gemini. Yes, I know Gemini is the sign of the twins, but it's also the third sign of the zodiac. (I think the guy commenting in the next video must be a Gemini....he's a bit on the chatty side. Just ignore him and his running commentary...he's a distraction. Watch the dancers instead.)

The third time is a charm. Here is another dance with the number three, which must be a lucky number in the Balkan world. The dance Trei Pazeste is from Romania.  They are even dancing in groups of three!  The shouts are characteristic of Romanian dances, they are called strigaturi.

By the way, the most famous vampire in the world, Count Dracula, was based on an actual person, the Romanian nobleman, Vlad Tepes. I mention this bit of trivia because it's October, and Halloween falls on the very last day of the month. This holiday is a big deal in the States. After dark on Halloween, children (accompanied by adults) traipse from house to house, and some of them dress as vampires. Scary costumes are the norm on Halloween; it is the holiday of ghosts, ghouls, monsters and vampires. The purpose of this activity is to acquire as much free candy as possible. The adults come home exhausted after making the rounds of the neighborhood; the children get a burst of energy from a sugar overdose.

Dracula (Romanian for devil) was quite the character and his favorite method of putting people to death was impaling them on wooden stakes. According to some estimates, he may have killed up to 100,000 people in this manner.

You can see a more benign version of the Count on the children's show Sesame Street.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like Balkan Folk Dancing and its Relationship to... Math?

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  1. OMG! The Sesame Street Count has a Balkan accent!!! I never knew that - I've ever only heard him dubbed! This is soo cool!!

  2. I wonder what the Count sounds like dubbed in Bulgarian....