Monday, April 28, 2014

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Tune: Gankino Horo

Today's dance is the very popular Gankino Horo from the northwestern region of Bulgaria.

First, let's have a look at the dance. It's fairly easy once you get the feel of the 11/16 rhythm.  That little "hiccup" in the middle takes some getting used to.

The 11/16 rhythm is also used in the dance kopanitsa.   Gankino Horo is a kopanitsa, but not all kopanitsas are Gankino. Ganka is a female name in Bulgaria, and the dance may have been named after the woman who led it. This may or may not be true. There are a number of Bulgarian dances named after women or girls for example: Elenino Horo (Elena's Dance).

The dancers are from the Dunav group from Jerusalem in Israel (if you're a regular you have seen many of their videos on this blog). The music is from an old recording by Boris Karlov, a musician who died nearly 50 years ago.  You can read more about him in one of the posts listed below. He created many arrangements of Bulgarian folk dances for accordion that are still used today.

Since the month of May is almost here, the next variation is Maisko Gankino Horo by Diko Iliev. You'll hear the same motif, but it sounds quite different played on brass instruments.

If you're not familiar with the name Diko Iliev, he was a composer from northwestern Bulgaria who composed many pieces based on folk dances.  His most popular work is Dunavsko Horo, played during holidays and celebrations, and especially to welcome the New Year.

The next video of Gankino Horo uses different music.  There is more than one tune associated with this dance, and I have found several versions on YouTube.  In that respect it is like the dance Dunavsko Horo.

Finally, we have a duo of classical musicians. They play an rrangement of Gankino on piano and cello. This is the familiar melody you heard in the first two videos.  Classical musicians can be sometimes intimidated by the unusual rhythms of Bulgarian folk music, but not these two. They do an excellent job with the piece and play it FAST.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Variations on a Theme by Diko Iliev

Happy New Year 2014 Same Dance, Different Music: Dunavsko Horo

Classical Composers Inspired by Balkan Folk Dances

Springtime Music by Diko Iliev

The Legacy of Boris Karlov, Bulgarian Folk Accordionist

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The "Flavors" of Greek Syrtos

It was Greek to me!
William Shakespeare

Today's dance is Syrtos from Greece and comes in a number of different "flavors" from plain vanilla to the fancier varieties with chocolate sauce and nuts. 

Let's start with the easiest version danced at a Greek festival in California, the vanilla flavor. It's a festive good-time dance, and everyone can join the line..

Another dance,  Kalamantianos, in a slightly different rhythm (7/8, or slow-quick-quick) uses the same steps as the Syrtos. It is related to Syrtos the same way the Bulgarian dance Graovsko Horo is related to Kyustendilska Rachenitsa. You can read about the similarities by following the links at the bottom of this page.

Now we get into the fancier variety of Syrtos.  This is an island version (can anyone tell me which island it's from?) and slightly more complicated; this time we added the chocolate sauce to the vanilla ice cream :)

The dance Karagouna, which incorporates the syrtos steps in the last figure, is the ice cream with chocolate sauce and nuts. (It's really not as hard as it looks). These ladies from Finland do it with feeling, and they have an excellent band, Souvlaki, to accompany them. You can find the lyrics to the song here.

By the way, souvlaki is the Greek version of shish-kebab: seasoned meat and vegetables skewered on a stick and grilled; it's often served with pita bread. The meat can be lamb, pork or chicken. It's very tasty.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Folklore, Food and Fun at Festivals

Bulgarian Dances and Their Greek Relatives

A Family Resemblance: Theme and Variations (Graovsko Horo and its relationship to Kyustendilska Rachenitsa.)

A Happy Easter to all!  Don't forget to read my Easter post.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Chetvorno Horo

Hang on to those belts, dancers, today's dance is Chetvorno Horo!

On the Universe of Youtube, I found several video examples on how different "villages" interpret the dance.

Chetvorno is from the Shope folklore region of Bulgaria  (western region near the capital, Sofia). The time signature is 7/8 (pineapple-apple-apple).This dance has traveled around the world and undergone several incarnations, from easy to moderately difficult. You will see them here.

Although there are other dances in 7/8 (or 7/16 depending on the speed) such as the rachenitsa and the lesnoto; the accents fall on different beats and each one has a distinct feel.  Read the posts Dancing in Sevens (part one and part two) to find out more. You can find the links to them at the bottom of this page.

Tbe first video shows a group dancing in a shopping mall.   This version is the least complicated and uses the basic steps (hop-step-step in the first part and one two three in the crossovers, also called pas-de-basques.  Where they got that fancy French name for that step, I don't know.

Version two is slightly more complicated and introduces the slide step as well as the basic ones. This video comes from the series "Teach Yourself Bulgarian Folk Dance" and features professional dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes.  There is also step by step teaching video (pun intended) which is posted on YouTube.

The next version of Chetvorno has a more complicated choreography; if you look at the dance notes you will see five distinct figures.  People in international folk dance groups seem to thrive on complex dances and go to workshops to learn them.  This one is from the village of Bistritsa, and the person demonstrating the dance is from the "village" of Haifa, Israel.

Kolokoalition, a group from the United States, has many dances posted on YouTube. In this video, they dance Chetvorno to live music, the same version and music as shown in the previous video.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens  Part One and Part Two

Two Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Kraj Dunavsko Horo

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa Part One and Part Two

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Take a Ride on the Orijent Express

Who knows who will be on board? A couple of spies, for sure. At least one grand duke; a few beautiful woman, no doubt very rich and very troubled. Anything can happen and usually does on the Orient Express.
Morley Safer

Today's featured dances are Orijent and Ciganski Orijent  from Serbia.

Orijent is one of the first dances I learned. There is one part of the dance in which my dance instructor described as "scraping shit off your shoe,"which is something peasants often did when dancing in the fields.

Back in the old days, animal droppings were the only "land mines" dancers had to worry about. In the country that used to be Yugoslavia, there are many places that have live land mines. The areas are marked off with warning signs.

Fortunately, there was no "land mine" danger for these dancers.

Ciganski Orijent  most likely originated as a Gypsy (Roma) dance.  The music sounds like a train and was inspired by the Orient Express, a luxury train that took passengers from Paris to Istanbul. The Simplon route passed through Serbia and there was a stop in Belgrade, the White City and capital of Serbia.

The Orient Express inspired Agatha Christie's novel Murder on the Orient Express, and there was also a movie based on the book.

Some of the steps are similar to Orijent in the previous video.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Stamp It Out: Vlach Dances From Serbia

The "Flavors" of Serbian Cacak

Two Variations on a Serbian Folk Dance: Stara Vlajna

Don't forget to check out the newest post on my other blog: Light and Shadow, especially if you like cats.

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