Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dances Inspired by Dimitrija

A woman is more dangerous than a loaded gun. – Ryann Bosetti .

In a previous post I mentioned how many Bulgarian folk dances got their names. They are usually named after people, places or regions.  Dimitrija is the name of the day.

The first song is from the Pirin region, in southwestern Bulgaria.  Dimitrija sits on a stool, a gun next to her, drinking wine and rakia.  If you're searching for a woman with attitude, look no further. She is definitely "more dangerous than a loaded gun."

Here's the dance, performed by the group Leb i Vino. They specialize in authentic folklore from the Pirin region. It sounds quite a bit different from the previous video; with three zurnas and a tupan (drum). 

The Ottoman Turks used the zurna to intimidate enemies.  The people of the Pirin region liked it so much they incorporated it into their folk music.

One of my favorite dances is Mitro, one of the many variations of Pravo Horo. This is a favorite with the Sunday night group, and I often lead it. Mitro is the short form of Dimitrija. The song is from the Rhodope region (southern Bulgaria) and the gaida (bagpipe) introduction is loud enough to wake the dead.

I learned the dance Oj, Dimitrole at a Yves Moreau workshop, although I have since forgotten most of it. Maybe this video will give me incentive to review it. The dance is from northwestern Bulgaria, where brass bands are popular.

The singer is Daniel Spasov, whose specialty is music from the Northern and Shopluk folklore regions.  He also hosts a weekly folk music show on Bulgarian National Televsion: Ide Nashenskata Muzika.

There is also a half hour video with songs performed by Daniel Spasov, not shown here, but I have provided the link: Ide Duhovata Muzika (Here Comes the Brass Band), which is on YouTube. You can also find the post with songs from that video on the bottom of the page.

The first figure in this dance looks like a penguin walk. The rhythm is 6/8, often used in pravo dances and their variations.

If you enjoyed this you may also like

The Women of Bulgarian Folk Songs

Here Comes the Brass Band! Modern Bulgarian Folk Songs with Daniel Spasov

Dances Inspired by Elena

The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music

The Bagpipe in Bulgarian Folk Music

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Multi-Ethnic Weekend and Some Bulgarian "Free Software"

I like to see myself as a bridge builder, that is me building bridges between people, between races, between cultures, between politics, trying to find common ground.
T.D. Jakes

This week's post will be short, as there were two great ethnic events in the area this past weekend.  The first was the Springfield Massachusetts Glendi, a three-day festival of Greek music, dance, and food.  Too bad I forgot to take a picture of the moussaka before I ate it.  It was delicious.

Once my hunger was sated, I took a video of the dancers.  I was traveling light and used my phone instead of the camera to take the video, so the sound quality wasn't great.  You can hear it if you turn up the speakers to the highest setting.

Last year's video was much better because I used the camera. I was able to zoom in on the dancers performing a Pentozali and here you can REALLY hear the music.

There was also a Bulgarian event that I went to last Friday, and I remembered to bring the camera. Everyone got up and danced to Bulgarika, despite the fact that the Masonic Hall was very hot and sticky, and the only cooling devices were two large fans (no air conditioning.) Summer decided to come to New England in September.  It was running late this year.

I will write more on Bulgarika in a future post.  Bulgarika is currently on tour in the United States. They are a four person ensemble; two live in New York City and two traveled here from Bulgaria.

The dance is Sadi Moma, with vocals by Donka Koleva.

In another incarnation, Sadi Moma became the Free Software Song.  By the way, the time signature is 7/8, very common in Bulgarian folk music, and in this song the rhythm is pineapple-apple-apple.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

To Greece and Bulgaria and Back (in one weekend!)

Folklore, Food and Fun at Festivals

The "Flavors" of Greek Syrtos

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quirky, Odd and Unusual Folklore Videos From the Universe of YouTube

Could you, would you,
with a goat?

I would not,
could not.
with a goat!

Dr. Seuss, from Green Eggs and Ham

You could, if the bagpipe is made from an entire goat, including the head.  Read on, you'll find this week's post very entertaining.

I'm not a fan of Sports Illustrated, especially the Swimsuit Edition. The magazine version comes out every February, mainly because people are bored of winter and dream of escaping to tropical beaches where beautiful women abound.  Real women don't look anything like the ones in Sports Illustrated, that's for sure.

Here is something much more fun to watch: the Accent Swimsuit Video. It features the ladies from the Bulgarian folk dance club Accent on vacation in Lake Orhid, Macedonia. You can find their website here (in Bulgarian). Here they ham it up for the camera with Opas, sans elaborate embroidered costumes.

As soon as I saw this video, I thought of a Facebook friend  who regularly reads my blog.  He likes the belly dancers and the sexy female folk singers.  Will, this one's for you :)

A group from China dances Geampara, a dance from Romania. It's amazing how Balkan folk music has traveled around the world. This particular group focuses on Balkan and Israeli dance and they have many videos on YouTube. They have been featured on this blog numerous times and describe themselves as a "bonding folk dance class." The teacher reminds me of a drill instructor; according to the notes on the video, he is a guest teacher from Taiwan. His choice of music suits his personality; it is a very macho piece.

The rhythm for geampara is the same as Bulgarian rachenitsa: apple-apple-pineapple. Just don't call it that in Romania.

Video #3 features a group of Roma musicians, also known by the politically incorrect term Gypsies.

Unfortunately I've read too many disparaging comments on YouTube about the Roma. They have been targets of discrimination for centuries.

Their ancestors originally came from India and migrated west into Europe. Some of the best artists in the world of Balkan music are Roma; famous examples include the singer Esma from the Republic of Macedonia, and the accordionist Boris Karlov from Bulgaria.

These guys are fun to watch, although I think they had a little too much whiskey at the Christmas party :) What is really odd is that there's no audience here, nor are there people dancing.  The rhythm for this piece is a čoček, a dance popularized by Roma people in the Balkans.

Finally here's one of the most unusual videos I've ever seen.  Risto Todoroski, a Macedonian living in Sydney, Australia, makes, sells and plays bagpipes made from an entire goat, including the head.  If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for your favorite musician, you can contact him via e-mail at

If you enjoyed this you may also like

A Romani Potpourri One and Two

Two Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Opas

The Bagpipe in Macedonian Folk Music

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.