Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dancing Through The Alphabet: Letter U

This week's dance is Užicka Carlama from the Sumadija region of Serbia. There aren't too many dances from the Balkans that begin with the letter U (with the exception of U Sest, which is probably one of the most popular dances in Serbia).

You've probably noticed I've featured two Serbian dances in two weeks. Next week's dance will be from a different country so you won't think this blog is stuck in central Serbia.

Some additional notes for  Uzicka Carlama can be found here. Notice the heel clicks; the notes describe it as a dance with "movements that were fun to do in boots."

This group is from Toronto, Canada.

Since the word "carlama" is derived from the Turkish "to strike" this week's bonus video is the "world's fastest 300 game." For those who aren't knowledgeable about the sport of bowling, 300 is a perfect game (twelve strikes in a row).  The reason this guy can do it so fast is that he has the entire bowling alley to himself.  In an actual game, he would be using two lanes and waiting for the pins to reset, which could get really boring after a while. He would also be playing against a competitor and you'd probably go to sleep before the game is over unless you're a true bowling aficionado.

Bowling is one of the few sports that's fun because you can get rid of stress without hurting anyone.  In that respect it's a lot like Romanian folk dancing (stamp, stamp, stamp).

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Serbian Folk Dance Around the World

The Different "Flavors" of the Romanian Folk Dance Alunelul

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter T

Once I am in the square circle, I am in my home.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Today's dance is a bouncy number from Serbia, Toicevo Kolo.  I found it by accident on  Dunavfolk's channel on the Universe of YouTube. 

There are two Balkan dance groups in Israel: Balkanitsa from Haifa and Dunav from Jerusalem.  Dunav has a great website with resources, information, dance notes, lyrics and best of all, videos. Balkanitsa's YouTube channel is also a good resource for dance videos.

However, I couldn't find any notes for Toicevo Kolo anywhere on the Web.. It reminds me of another dance from Serbia, U Sest.

I don't know of any groups in my area that have it in their repertoire.  It looks like a fun (and relatively easy) dance.  Kolo means circle in Serbian, but sometimes it is danced in a line. Both are considered geometric figures.  And when you have only two people you have no choice but to dance in a line.

Here is a slightly different version of the same dance performed by two members of Kolo Dragan, also known as KoloKoalition. They, too have an extensive collection of Balkan dance videos on YouTube. The situation is the same as the previous video: only two people doing the dance. They are making it as circular as they possibly can.

The bonus video is vintage Sesame Street, from the 1990's.  There are funky circles, but no kolos :)

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

Balkan Folk Dancing and its Relationship to Math

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter S

I had a very simple, unremarkable and happy life. And I grew up in a very small town. And so my life was made up of, you know, in the morning going to the river to fetch water - no tap water, and no electricity - and, you know, bathing in the river, and then going to school, and playing soccer afterwards.
Ishmael Baeh

Today's dance is Staro Gradesnisko Horo. According to the notes it's from the Pirin region, southwest Bulgaria. Bulgarian folk dances are often named after towns or regions; this one is named for the town of Doina Gradesniska.

The song is about a common theme in Bulgarian folklore: a girl who goes out to fetch water.  Back in the days before indoor plumbing, the girls and young women had the tedious chore of getting water from the well or the spring for cooking and cleaning.

While fetching water, this girl has an encounter with a young man who makes trouble (but he is actually in love with her).  I couldn't get an exact translation, but if you understand German or Bulgarian you can find the lyrics here.

The dance starts is unusual in that it starts with a hesitation after the introduction. It's very short, just over two minutes long.

Today's bonus video is by the Bisserov Sisters. It is a performance dating from 1989, and the song is about the dangers of going to the well late at night.  Included are English subtitles.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Best of the Bisserov Sisters (and family).  The Pirin style of singing features beautiful and unusual harmonies.  These ladies have been singing together for a very long time; and the entire family is involved with making music.  How do they deal with sibling rivalry? I have yet to find out how they get along so well...

Bulgarian Dances Folk Dances Named After Cities and Towns

The Bulgarian Fascination with Water, Evidence from Folklore, Music and Proverbs

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter R

What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.
Salvador Dalí

This week's dance is Ravno Oro from the Republic of Macedonia. The name is very easily confused with another Macedonian dance, Bavno Oro.

Ravno is a bit more challenging than Bavno.  Like a number of Macedonian folk dances; it starts off slow and speeds up as it progresses.  There are different patterns for the slow part and the fast part. The time signature is 7/8 (pineapple-apple-apple).

In this video the lines are gender-segregated. Traditionally the dance was done that way, but nowadays people do it in mixed lines. Sometimes dancing in the men's line is more fun; they tend to get a little crazier than the women. I have gotten away with it on more than a few occasions :)

Video 2 is the "equal opportunity" version, led by Yves Moreau.  Check out his fancy moves; he is a well-known teacher of Bulgarian and Balkan folk dances and gives workshops all over the world.

I skipped the letter "q" because there are no Balkan dances that begin with "q." The bonus video supplies the missing letter in a very quirky way.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Some Equal Opportunity Folk Dances

The Legacy of Boris Karlov, Bulgarian Folk Accordionist (many people confuse him with Boris Karloff, the movie actor).  His version of Bavno Oro is still used at folk dances more than 50 years after his death.

Folklore as a Destiny: Yves Moreau and Bulgarian Folk Music

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter P

That's what sailing is, a dance, and your partner is the sea. And with the sea you never take liberties. You ask her, you don't tell her. You have to remember always that she's the leader, not you. You and your boat are dancing to her tune.
― Michael Morpurgo, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea

This week's dance, Paraliakós, is from Greece. Unlike most of the dances featured during the past few months, this one is fairly easy.

The music for Paraliakos reminds me of riding in a boat rocking gently on the waves. I've never been on a sailboat but have had a bit of experience paddling canoes and kayaks.  The boat mentioned in the song is a craft used for fishing in the Greek islands (if you listen closely you'll hear the song in the background, and also see the men sailing in a vrastsera).

The lyrics of the song describe a man sailing his boat out to sea. He mentions the beauty of the scenery and the danger of the oncoming storm.

The dance goes very well with the music. The swaying part reminds me of a boat on the water.  In the next video there is a short teach by Lee Otterholt.  You can easily learn the dance by watching.

This dance is very popular in our group and requested frequently. 

The bonus video also has a Greek theme, and if you are a regular reader of The Alien Diaries, you have probably seen it before: Miss Piggy's Never on Sunday.  It's a blast with dancing pigs, flying plates and gunshots!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Beethoven With a Bulgarian Accent; Mozart Goes Greek

The "Flavors" of Greek Syrtos 

Some Fun for April Fool's Day

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