Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter L

We have reached the middle of the alphabet. Today's dance is Leventikos, from Florina, in northern Greece.

This dance is also known as Pušteno across the border in the Republic of Macedonia.  Many folk dances in the Balkans don't follow political borders, as a result, especially on the YouTube comments, people bicker about whether the dance is Macedonian or Greek.  Actually, for the record, it's both, since there's a region called Macedonia in Northern Greece. If the dance crossed the border into the Republic of Macedonia under a different name, who cares? We should be dancing instead of fighting, anyway.

Many Balkan dances are grouped into quick-slow beats, which confuses things even more. The time signature for Leventikos (for those of you who are into music theory) is 12/16. The beats are grouped together in this manner: 3+2+2+3+2.  An easier way is to clap the rhythm: slow-quick-quick-slow-quick.

Here's a slightly fancier version of the same dance.  The men like to add embellishments (and the little girls behind the line are paying attention!)

This week's bonus video celebrates the springtime tradition of  Martenitsa.  It is a custom especially in Bulgaria, but also done in Romania and Greece. People give each other red and white decorated tassels or bracelets to drive away winter and welcome spring.

It has been a very long hard winter in my part of the world, and the snow on the ground will take a while to melt. Baba Marta, (a mythological figure much like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy) may have been good to the Bulgarians this year, but she's keeping that beautiful springtime weather across the pond instead of sharing it with us.

Who will win the Martenitsa fight? Will spring finally take over?  Watch the video and find out.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Dances and Their Greek Relatives

The "Flavors" of Greek Syrtos

Crossing the River Part 3: The Bulgarian Martenitsa and the Romanian Mărţişor

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