Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Kraj Dunavsko Horo

You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way. Marvin Minsky

During the years I have spent folk dancing, I have found there are as many variations as there are "villages." As a matter of fact, at dance we have this saying "He comes from a different village."  All this means is that their group performs a dance in a different way than we do.  Choreography is one of those things where there's plenty of room for improvisation.

Today's post features two variations of a dance from Northwestern Bulgaria. The name is Kraj Dunavsko Horo.  Translated into English, this means dance from the Danube region.  By the way it's a totally different dance than Dunavsko Horo. You will find a link to a post about it at bottom of this page.

Version one is the one popular with folk dance groups in the United States (and Israel, where this group is from).  If you are a regular visitor to The Alien Diaries, you will recognize them.

Version two is a crazy aerobic exercise routine performed with lots of exuberance by the Hungarian group Mydros.  The music and the steps are different from version one. It's fun to watch and they are having a good time.  I had trouble keeping up with them!

At the very end, the accordionist plays a musical allusion: Shave and A Haircut, Two Bits.

Mydros describes their group as a Greek band from Hungary. They have a website as well as a YouTube channel. On the site, there is an English translation button, which is not easy to find. Most of their videos are of Greek folk songs (with subtitles). If you read Greek, you can sing along :)

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Two variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Opas

Variations on a Vlashko Theme (a very popular dance from Northwestern Bulgaria)

Variations on a Theme by Diko Iliev: Dunavsko Horo

Allusions in Balkan Folk Music

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance: Arcanul

"No sane man will dance." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

I've never understood why men in the United States are afraid to dance.  It must be a cultural thing.  Fortunately, in the Balkans, dancing is an expression of masculine prowess, and there are certain dances in which the men love to show off.

Today's post features two different variations of the Romanian folk dance Arcanul. The first is a very lively and energetic dance, very masculine in nature. By the way, Arcanul is also popular in Moldova, a country north of Romania, where the language and culture are similar to their neighbors to the south.

Arcanul Batrinesc, according to the dance notes, is for senior citizens who still want to show off their dancing prowess with deep knee bends and stamps.  This can be especially painful if they suffer from arthritis.

If you're a regular visitor to The Alien Diaries, you'll recognize the Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel.  They have a website and YouTube videos.  Go visit them sometime. 

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance: Hora de Mina

Three Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance: Trei Pazeste

The River of Many Names Part 3: Folk Ensembles Named Dunav

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Classical Musicians Play Balkan Folk Music

Musicians tend to get bored playing the same thing over and over, so I think it's natural to experiment.
Dimebag Darrell

WQXR has been New York City's classical music station since 1936. I began listening to WQXR when I was about 12 years old. If you like classical music, you can listen to this radio station anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.

Today's post features two videos from the WQXR Cafe Concerts. You don't often find classical musicians playing music from the Balkans (probably because of the unusual rhythms), but there are some adventurous people out there.....

I found the first video by accident when I was searching for different versions of Gankino Horo, a Bulgarian dance tune.

The Canellakis-Brown duo plays it on piano and cello.I was pleasantly surprised since I'm so used to the accordion arrangement by Boris Karlov. They do an amazing job, especially since this is a difficult meter (11/16) for non-Bulgarians to master, and they play it FAST. (I wonder if they're folk dancers?)

The next piece is much slower. Although there is no one singing here, a doina is a Romanian folk song, rather melancholy in nature.  This one was arranged by Grigoras Dinicu. He wrote a number of pieces based on Romanian folk tunes, the most famous being Hora Staccato, a favorite among classical violinists.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Classical Composers Inspired by Balkan Folk Dances

The Legacy of Boris Karlov, Bulgarian Folk Accordionist

Having a Blast With Diko Iliev (Bulgarian composer whose music was based on folklore themes)

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More Quirky Odd Rhythms in Balkan Dance

I can tell by the way somebody walks if they can dance or not. Just by the rhythm. Bruce Forsyth

Today's post is more of a dance lesson than a math lesson. So don't let the numbers and the odd rhythms scare you. Many people find Balkan dancing intimidating for this reason.

Drăgăcuţa, a graceful and beautiful dance from Romania,is in 3/4 meter..  Most people associate this rhythm with waltz music. (1-2-3-1-2-3).  This is a quick-slow (with the accent on the second beat). It's easy to follow (most of it is walking) but difficult to lead because of the quirky rhythm. 

In Romania, women dance this at weddings to mourn the loss of the bride to the world of the married; in this instance it's an equal opportunity dance, since there are several men in the group.

The next number is five, and this Macedonian dance is Strumicka Petorka (pet is Macedonian for five).  It's has a totally different feel from Pajduško Horo, another dance with a five in the time signature.

I skipped over seven and nine since they have been covered in previous posts (see links at the end).  The next dance is Gankino Horo, a basic kopanitsa from Bulgaria. The rhythm for this is 11/16. (quick-quick-slow-quick quick).

Kopanitsa comes in different "flavors." Bulgarian dances are often named after cities and towns and sometimes regions, for example there is a Pazardzhishka Kopanitsa and a Shopska Kopanitsa. This particular dance is Bistrishka Kopanitsa. As difficulty goes, I would rate this as a 9 on a scale of 10.

Perhaps the people who work at the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute taught these cute little penguins how to dance Bistrishka Kopanitsa.  If the video looks familiar, you have probably seen the movie Happy Feet.

If you enjoyed this you may also like: The Travels of Padjusko Horo

Balkan Folk Dancing and its Relationship to...Math?

Dancing in Sevens, Parts One and Two

If you like the number nine, this post on Daichovo Horo, a Bulgarian folk dance, is for you.

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