Thursday, June 20, 2013

The "Flavors" of Serbian Čačak

Čačak is one of the first Serbian dances I learned many years ago at the Ethnic Folk Arts Center in lower Manhattan. (It is now the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.)

It comes in different "flavors" from easy to hold on to your belt difficult. The basic pattern of the dance is three-two-one and the rhythm is 2/4.

First, read the dance notes for a little background information . They are ancient and typewritten (from 1957) and mention a country that no longer exists: Yugoslavia. 

Čačak can be danced with a hand hold, a belt hold or a basket hold. You will see the different variations in the following videos. Čačak is also considered a kolo. Kolo means "circle" in Serbian and Croatian, but just because a dance is a kolo doesn't always mean it's done in a circle! Some kolos are performed as line dances, you will see that here too.

First is the teaching video. It's basic čačak , taught in Serbian, and easy to follow. The costumed dancers use a front basket hold.  The arms go over the waist of the person on both sides..

Here you will see the basic čačak  danced at a party.  The dancers are in circles and since kolo means "circle" it meets the definition of kolo. The  on the bottom in large white letters on the bottom of the screen is a bit of a distraction. It did, however, give me enough incentive to visit their website, which specializes in photography for weddings, videos, and other events in the Houston, Texas area. 

The Tanzgruppe Bäckerstrasse is from Vienna, Austria. They have many videos on their Dancilla site, as well as a social network for dancers all over the world. Check them out sometime. They are also on YouTube.

They perform the next čačak, which is slightly more complicated.  My group calls it the Five Figure Čačak because it has five different figures, all in a three-two-one pattern.  Each figure is repeated throughout the dance, and depends on the whim of the person leading. If the leader has good counting skills, and can keep it together, the dance ends on the right foot in figure five. Figure five is similar to figure one with a bit more movement. This group uses a hand hold.

For some reason, they did the dance sequence twice, it seems that there were technical difficulties with either the dance or the camera (the camera glitch is at 2:45).  Maybe it was both.


Godecki Cacak is a border crossing dance.  Some say it's Bulgarian and some say it's Serbian. To me it can be either or both. It has dual citizenship.  There is a Shope region in both Bulgaria and Serbia and that's where the dance is from.  It is hold on to your belt fast, which is why the dancers use a belt hold. 

This čačak is more complicated than the previous dances and doesn't quite follow the 3-2-1 rule. It's one of my favorites and very popular with folk dance groups all over the world. If you're a frequent visitor to this blog you'll recognize the Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel. 

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa (Part 1 and Part 2)

Two Variations on a Serbian Folk Dance: Stara Vlajna

Balkan Folk Dancing and Its Relationship to Math (or why math and physics people take up folk dancing)

And finally, some trivia.  Čačak is also a city in Serbia, but I'm not sure if the dance was named after it, if anyone out there knows why the city has that name, please let me know in the "comments" section.

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  1. Our Croatian Dance group LOVED doing the Cacak.

  2. Rosemary, thanks so much for stopping by to comment! One of my best memories of the cacak was in Central Park in NYC many years ago. I was the only female in a line of men and we danced the basic cacak (a very fast one) with a belt hold....the guys thought I was really cool to keep up with them :)