Friday, July 26, 2013

Two Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance: Hora de la Munte

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.
J.H. Poincare

This quote got my attention because dancing is related to math. There are a number of dances that use the same name and different music.  Today's dance, Hora de la Munte, from Romania, is one of them.

I learned it many years ago from a lady named Sasha in New York City.  At that time she ran a folk dance group that met at the 92nd Street Y on Saturday evenings.   I don't know how old she is but my guess is that she is in her eighties (dancers tend to have very long lifespans), and she's still going strong.  I saw her last summer at a workshop given by Yves Moreau.

Version one is the one most people know; it is slow and easy to follow.  This group is the International Folk Dancers of Ottawa from Canada.  Check out their blog: Easy Folk Dances. They have dances posted from all over the world, including Eastern Europe, and they also have a YouTube channel.

This is Hora de la Munte, version two, performed by the same group. It's not a difficult dance; most of it consists of rhythmic walking and it's a bit more lively. Instead of the clarinet solo, there is a woman singing.  Version two also has a step in and out sequence.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Balkan Folk Dancing and its Relationship to Math (see quote above!)

Dancing in Sevens (three Bulgarian folk dances, each with the number seven in the time signature, with different rhythms)

Two Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance, Hora de Mina

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Three Variations of the Bulgarian/Macedonian Folk Dance Arap

Today's featured dance, Arap, has dual citizenship, according to the notes I found on the Internet.  The reason for this is that it is popular in both Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, Macedonia happens to be one of the most contested names on the map. There are three places which share this name. One of them is the Republic of Macedonia where the people speak a language closely related to Bulgarian.  The languages are similar enough that Bulgarians and Macedonians can understand each other.

There is also a Macedonia region in northern Greece. The Pirin region of Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad Province, which borders the Republic of Macedonia is also known as Pirin Macedonia.

The first version of Arap is the one familiar to most folk dancers.  It is Zajko Kokorajko, about a rabbit who's off to Salonika (in Greek Macedonia) to marry a fox.  The wedding guests are as unusual as the couple: a female bear, a female wolf, a hedgehog to play the drums, and a frog to play the zurna, among others. At the end the rabbit is pursued by hunting dogs!

The dominant instrument in this song is the bagpipe (gaida).

The original Macedonian lyrics with English translation can be found here:

The next  Arap is from Bulgaria.  It's called Kulskoto and done to different music. Near the end you can hear the zurna. What makes the zurna so distinctive is its loud, piercing sound, even louder than the bagpipe.

My group dances this version to the music for Zaiko Kokorajko (except for the turns).  I guess different villages do different variations.  It's all good.

The next Arap is also from Bulgaria and very similar to the previous version.  They don't do the turns and they swing the arms, but the footwork is the same.  The music is also different, with bagpipe accompaniment.  It's very pleasing to watch and the costumes are beautiful.

The song is Neveno, Mome, Neveno  which I like very much.  Does anyone out there have the lyrics and/or translation for it?

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Bagpipe in Macedonian Folk Music

The Bagpipe in Bulgarian Folk Music

A Dance By Any Other Name

The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music (it was originally used to intimidate enemies of the Ottoman Empire!)

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Friday, July 12, 2013

More Dances From the Bulgarian Folklore Region of Dobrudja

I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it's going to work or whether I'm going to fall flat on my face.
Johnny Depp

Oftentimes I surf the Internet, watch videos on YouTube and see dances that our group doesn't do.  Why, I don't know.  People tend to stick with what's familiar.  It's good to get out of the the comfort zone once in a while and try new things. I am always up for a challenge.

Today's post features two dances from the northeast region of Bulgaria:  Dobrudja.  Tbey look pretty cool, but they also look difficult. Whether I can convince anyone to teach them or find someone who knows them is a whole other story altogether. I'm sure that they have been taught at workshops at one time or another.

The first dance is Dobrudjanksa Pandela.  There are different versions of it floating around, but this is the only one I could find on YouTube. It has stamping and hand movements that are typical of the Dobrudja region, and the shouts remind me of Romanian strigaturi.

I haven't found any people in the States who dance Povlekana.  For some reason it hasn't left Bulgaria, why is that? By the way, Povlekana is also known as Dobrudjanska Rachenitsa.

If you're new here, the rachenitsa is the national dance of Bulgaria, and done all over the country. The rhythm for it is apple-apple-pineapple (7/8) for you music theorists out there. The styling depends on the region; in Dobrudja, there is a heavy emphasis on arm movement, and the dance tends to be somewhat slow, with plenty of stamping for emphasis. This looks like a folk dance competition, at the end the performers are given grades.  They did very well.

Check out the colorful costumes, especially the women's head scarves and aprons; these are typical of this region.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa, Part 1

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa, Part 2

More Stamping it Out: Dances From the Bulgarian Folklore Region of Dobrudja (Reka, Sborenka and Tropanka)

There is a Dobrogea in Romania, too.  Yes, I know they spell it differently, but then Romania is a another country with a language based on Latin. And they dance something similar to the Bulgarian rachenitsa, just don't refer to it by that name.  Read this post and find out why.

Crossing the River, Part One: Dances From the Romanian Folklore Region of Dobrogea

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Different "Flavors" of the Romanian Folk Dance: Alunelul

Today's post features several variations of a popular folk dance from Romania, Alunelul. It means "little hazelnut" and how a dance came by with that name, I don't know. It probably started out as a children's song with the following lyrics:

Alunelul, Alunelul hai la joc
Sa ne fie, sa ne fie, cu noroc...

You will find the rest of the song, with translation in German and English, here:

First, here's some background on the dance. It has variations that are done in the different villages and districts in Romania.  We will explore a few of them today.

The first video shows the basic version titled simply Alunelul. It is is the one most commonly used by recreational folk dance groups, and an easy dance that anyone can do. It is also very popular with children, probably because of the stamping. 

Alunelul Batut takes the dance to the next level.  This variation is a bit more complex than the previous one, and there is no song to accompany it, although there are violins and an accordion.

Here it's performed by a group from Copenhagen, Denmark. The translation of the second word, according to Google Translate, is "beaten."  My guess is that it has to do with the amount of stamping.  They are beating up the hazelnuts here.

The next video shows Roy and the gang dancing Alunelul de la Urzica. If you want to see some really cool folk dance videos, check out Roy Butler's YouTube Channel. 

Roy seems to be partial to Balkan dances, especially those from Romania. For some reason the person who took the video was a little too close, so it looks like the heads and feet have been cut off. There is enough here, however, to make watching it worthwhile. They are even wearing folk costumes!

Urzica is a small district in southern Romania.  Some of the best dances come from the rural regions; this is one of them.

The next video is of a group from China that is very fond of music from the Balkans and calls itself a "bonding folkdance class." This dance teacher posts under the name gpknh and he also has many videos on his YouTube channel. If you are a regular reader of this blog you have seen some of them. 

Here they dance Alunelul de la GoiceaGoicea is a district in southern Romania, in the county of Dolj. This one is done to a bagpipe accompaniment; they call it a "cimpoi" in Romania. The Romanians like the bagpipe,almost as much as their Bulgarian neighbors :)

Now that there are two bridges crossing the Danube instead of one, hopefully there will be even more intercultural exchange between Bulgaria and Romania.  According to the Bulgarian Radio's Vidin affiliate, this has already been happening...

If you enjoyed this you may like:

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

How to Stamp Out Your Frustrations and Relieve Stress (dances from Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia)

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