Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

For me, music and life are all about style.
Miles Davis

Although Bulgaria is a relatively small country (if you superimpose it on a map of the United States it's about the size of the state of Tennessee), it has seven distinct folklore regions. Today's post will feature dancing from four of them: Trakia, Rhodope, Dobrudja and Severnjasko.

Each area is distinct in its music and dance. Today's post will feature one of the most popular Bulgarian dances, the Pravo Horo (and its variations) and compare how it's performed in different regions of the country.

The Pravo originated somewhere in Thrace, a region now located in three different countries, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. By the way, people who live in the Thracian region of Greece do the same dance with a belt hold, but they call it by a different name, Zonaradikos. Zonaria means "belt" in Greek.


This dance from the Bulgarian region of the same name,Pravo Trakiisko Horo is slow and easy. It speeds up toward the end. It is a basic three and one pattern, in and out, over and over, at least until they run out of music.

Same dance as in the first video with a couple of slight variations.  This group uses a front basket hold.

This pravo is from the Rhodope region of southern Bulgaria. The tempo is slower and almost hypnotic. The dancers link arms and the instrumental accompaniment is a kaba gaida (bagpipe) an instrument native to that area.

The people of Dobrudja,(northeastern Bulgaria), not to be outdone, have their own version of the pravo, called Opas. It's a more challenging dance than your basic pravo,too, with lots of stamping and done in a baskethold, so if you screw up, the whole line goes out of kilter.

One of the most popular variants of the pravo is from northwestern Bulgaria. It is a very lively and energetic dance and has practically become synonymous with celebrations in Bulgaria: Dunavsko Horo. There are many different melodies for Dunavsko (the brass orchestration by Diko Iliev is the most popular). This version is played on Bulgarian folk instruments. By the way, these girls are Bulgarian language students from Armenia.

For more on regional variations in Bulgarian dance, check out Eliznik's web page. If you're short on time, scroll to the very bottom where you will find a summary of the regional differences.


If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Dances and Their Greek Relatives


A Dance by Any Other Name


Variations on a Theme by Diko Iliev:


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