Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two Variations on a Serbian Folk Dance: Stara Vlajna

A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end - and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.
Maynard James Keenan

Today's featured dance is a very popular and easy one from Serbia, Stara Vlajna.  The name translates to "Old Vlajna," and I couldn't find out whether it was named after a person or place. If anyone out there speaks Serbian and knows the meaning, please post it in the "comments" section.

Version one is more popular with folk dancers in the United States, and it's performed by the group Kolo Koalition. By the way, Kolo is a generic name for dances from most of the former Yugoslav republics (except for Macedonia).

The word "kolo" means circle in Serbian, although people sometimes dance it in a line.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands of them.  Kolos are often named after a town or region, although there are exceptions to this.  There is a funny dance named Fat Woman's Kolo, which is probably played in Serbian aerobics classes. Another one is Prekid Kolo, which is best described as Kolo Interruptus.

In the first version of Stara Vlajna, the music starts slowly and speeds up as the dance progresses (very common in Balkan folk dances). The dancers do several bounce steps when the music changes. The "bouncing" is rather subdued because this group uses a front baskethold; whereas our group does it with a simple handhold. We emphasize that bounce, especially when I lead it!

Don't pay attention to that distracting text on the bottom, either....all I know is that this was recorded on April 5, 2008 at 7:58 p.m. They were a little too early for the Doomsday Countdown. 

Version two is fast all the way through and the choreography and music are different, very bouncy and lively in true Serbian style.

By the way, Stara Vlajna is a Vlach dance; the Vlachs were decendants of Romans who lived in the Balkans, and they settled all over the place. They had wandering ways and in the old days, they made a living raising and herding sheep. The Vlach people are best known for dances with lots of stamping.

The Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel has posted many Balkan folk dance videos on YouTube and they have a website as well, where you can get dance notes, music scores and song lyrics for all of your favorite Balkan dances.  Check them out when you have a few minutes.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Two Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance: Hora de Mina

Two Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Opas

Two Variations on a Macedonian Folk Dance: Bufcansko

Stamping it Out: Vlach Dances From Serbia  (this will give you a feel for Vlach dancing, and it's a socially acceptable way to unleash the frustrations of daily life).

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  1. "We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal” Ingrid Bergman

    I suppose to dance is better :)

  2. It is :)Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Vlach women are called ''Vlajna'' . That is not a personal name.

  4. thanks for the translation. I know "stara" means guess this is "old vlach woman?" a dance for senior citizens maybe :)

  5. Vlach (Vlasi) are groups of people that live on the Balkans whose culture and traditions are slowly disappearing. This is one of their dances popular in Serbia. The dance is not Serbian but it is old and it is called Old Vlach referring to the earlier times and traditions. Vlach women are known to be very beautiful and traditional. They speak a Roman language called Vlaski (Vlach).