Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dancing Though the Alphabet: Letter C

C is for Cookie
Cookie Monster, Sesame Street

Since this week's dance has two c's instead of one, here's the Cookie Monster to tell you what the letter C is all about.  Eating too many cookies results in weight gain, which is why Cookie Monster should take up Balkan dancing.

The featured dance is from the Sumadija region of Central Serbia, Cicino Kolo.  Translated into English it means "Grandfather's Kolo"  At first it looks like something your grandfather can easily do until it starts to speed up.. Cicino Kolo is not recommended for those who have arthritis in the knees or other mobility problems.  No disrespect meant to grandfathers, some are very fit and active people.

Kolo means "circle"and it can also mean wheel. Not all kolos are danced in a circle, as you will see in the here, since there are only two people, not enough to form a circle. Circles and lines, by the way, are geometric figures, which are very prominent in folk dances from Eastern Europe.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll recognize the dancers.  They are members of the Dunav group, from Jerusalem, Israel.  By the way, Dunav means Danube in Serbian and Bulgarian.

Although I'm  not quite ready to move to letter D I thought I'd include, as an added bonus, the Bulgarian New Year Dance:  Diko Iliev's Dunavsko Horo.  He composed it in honor of the Danube, River of Many Names.  It was a big part of his life because he spent many years in the town of Oryahovo, along the river. The music and the dance are associated with Diko Iliev, even though he wrote many other compositions.

Play it at midnight and turn the volume loud enough to wake the dead. Get all your friends to line up behind you and dance around the living room instead of having a drunken Auld Lang Syne singalong.  If you want to learn the dance, the first post on the list below will help.

Happy New Year 2015!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Same Dance, Different Music: Dunavkso Horo

The Flavors of Serbian Kolo

The Flavors of Serbian Cacak

Having a Blast with Diko Iliev

Age is an Issue of Mind Over Matter: Old People in Balkan Folk Songs

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter B

BIG B, Little b, what begins with B?
Barber baby bubbles and a bumblebee.

Dr. Seuss

Today's dance begins with B and comes from the Pirin region of southwestern Bulgaria.  The name is Bičak (pronounced bee-chak).  The dance has four figures that build on each other, and the sequence in which they are done is at the leader's discretion. The fourth is the only one that goes right and left (line of direction and reverse line of direction).

This is a moderately difficult dance because it's in a compound rhythm 9/16 + 5/16 (14/16).  If you listen closely you can hear the clarinet,accordion, brass instruments and a tambura.

I couldn't finish this post without adding something appropriate for the holidays, after all it's Christmas.  This is the Ensemble Goce Delchev  from Sofia, Bulgaria performing Christmas songs and dances.  Vesela Koleda, and Merry Christmas to all!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Balkan Buy One Get One Free Special:  Dances in Compound Rhythms

The Tambura in Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Croatian Folk Music 

Bulgarian Christmas Songs (Koledarski Pesni)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter A

This week's post is part of a new series called "Dancing Through the Alphabet." Today's Alien Diaries has been brought to you by the letter A.  Where have you heard a similar saying before?  Hint: It is a popular children's TV show. Trivia fans should know the answer.  You have 30 seconds to write it down and don't forget to phrase it in the form of a question :)

The Alphabet Series, will, for the most part, spotlight lesser-known Balkan dances. Most of the popular ones have been featured on this blog at one time or another. 

Today's dance is from Bulgaria, a daichovo variation called Abdala. In the notes it's described as a Vlach version of daichovo. It has stamping (a requirement for Vlach dances) and it's fast. 

The dancers are members of the International Folk Dancers of Ottawa.

By the way, the answer to today's trivia question was Sesame Street.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Daichovo, Plain or Fancy, Take Your Pick

Bits and Pieces: More Folklore and Pop Culture from the Universe of You Tube (features Miss Piggy on the Muppet Show singing Never on Sunday)

Folklore and Pop Culture Again! (features the Count from Sesame Street)

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Women's Dances from Macedonia Led by Men

Heterosexual men HATE dancing. We HATE it. We do it because there's a chance it might lead to sex. I mean, let's face it- if we LIKED dancing, we'd do it with other guys! (found in Psychology Today comment section in response to "65 Quotes on Dance."  The remark was attributed to an anonymous standup comic.)

“A man does what he can; a woman does what a man cannot.”
Isabel Allende, Inés of My Soul 

Sure, there are  men out there who dance primarily to meet women. And there are some who actually like to dance.  They like dancing so much that gender roles don't bother them.  In today's post there are men leading what are traditionally known as women's dances.

The gender line has been crossed, at least with these two dances from Macedonia.

The first dance is Zensko za Raka, led by the teacher Sasko Atanasov.  .  This is an fairly easy dance but it requires a lot of concentration for the leader because the music doesn't exactly tell you what to do. I find it amazing that this guy can beat a drum and lead a dance at the same time.  He is really good.

Staro Zensko Krsteno means "old women's crossing dance. The crossover steps are similar to Zensko Za Raka, although the rhythm is a little more complicated and there are more embellishments.

 I don't see a time signature on the sheet music. Does anyone know what it is? Inquiring minds want to know :)

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Some Equal Opportunity Folk Dances

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa Part Two: Masculine, Feminine, and Flirty

More Quirky, Odd Rhythms in Balkan Dance

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Bulgarian Folk Songs Reincarnated

"Reincarnation is making a comeback."
British Slogan

Reincarnation is a fascinating concept.  Many people believe that they have lived more than one life. It is the same with songs.

Today's post features two popular Bulgarian folk songs that were reincarnated:  the older version (sung by a male) and the newer one (sung by a female).

Chia e Tova Mominche was originally performed by Kaicho Kamenov, who lived from 1923-1983.  I've heard a number of his recordings on the Bulgarian National Radio. He was from the town of Vinarovo (near Vidin) in northwestern Bulgaria and his specialty was songs from the northern folklore region.

The video is an excerpt from the Bulgarian TV program Ide Nashenskata Muzika, hosted by Daniel Spasov (the guy at the end of the video with the microphone) and Milen Ivanov.  The hosts of the show are also folk singers.

They devote a part of the show to artists from the past. It's broadcast most Saturdays and uploaded onto the Bulgarian National Television website by early afternoon, and features music from every folklore region of the country.  I don't understand what the melting ice has to do with the song, but it sure looks wintry out there!

This is the same song by Lyuti Chushki, a group of folk musicians from the Washington DC area. They paid a visit to Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley some years ago. During the day, they gave tupan and singing lessons, an intro to Bulgarian ethnomusicology, and in the evening a concert and a dance party. I enjoyed it very much.

The next song is Myatalo Lenche Jabuka, performed by two great artists of the mid-20th century, Boris Mashalov (vocals) and Boris Karlov (accordion).

Nikolina Chakardakova's version of Myatalo Lenche  is the one we play at dances. The link goes to her website (in Bulgarian), and you can find videos of her songs there.

Unfortunately, you won't see the artist in the video, although her recording was used for the performance.  The song is about a girl, Lenche, who throws an apple in the hope of finding a man to marry.  An old man catches it instead.  The plot revolves around the girl's mother sending the old man into the woods hoping that a bear will eat him.(In the stage performance the "bear" removes his "head", revealing a handsome young man.)

The dance is a rachenitsa, the national dance of Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Visit to Bulgaria by way of Mt. Holyoke College

Kaicho Kamenov and the Folk Songs of Northern Bulgaria

The Legacy of Boris Karlov, Bulgarian Folk Accordionist

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

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