Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dancing Through the Alphabet: Letter V

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
Mother Theresa

Albania was virtually isolated from the world until after the fall of Communism.  It was an oddity among the countries of Eastern Europe in that it deviated away from the Soviet Bloc (the Russians had a heavy hand in most of Eastern Europe until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989). Albania allied itself with Communist China for a while and then went its own way.  It was a closed country that few outsiders were allowed to visit and even fewer were allowed to emigrate from until 1991. 

Albanian is totally unrelated to any other language spoken on the Balkan peninsula.  

Albanian folk dance borrows some elements from Greek and South Slavic music, and some of the dances that they do are similar to those of their neighbors in Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia.  An example is Valle Pogonishte, related to the Greek dance Pogonisios.

The dance shown in the video below is Valle E Burrave; in English it translates to "Men's Dance."  Originally only the men were allowed to perform this dance,  and they are the ones who do the fancy choreography.  The women get to participate, however, so this is an "equal opportunity" dance.

Today's bonus video features Mother Theresa, one of the greatest humanitarians in the world, who was of Albanian heritage.  She was born in Skopje in 1910.  At that time, Albania and Macedonia were still part of the Ottoman Empire.

She left home at the age of 18 to become a nun and spent the rest of her life in India, ministering to the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta.

The video shows her as a young woman in an Albanian folk costume, and you can hear her speak her native language.  Albania's Communist government was against any form of religious expression and Mother Theresa was not allowed to visit until the government relaxed its stance on religion. It was a very joyous occasion for her.

If anyone out there speaks Albanian, it would be much appreciated if you could post a translation of her speech in the "comments" section.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Two Variations on an Albanian Folk Dance: Valle Pogonishte

The Dance of Osman Taka

A Taste of Albania at Balkan Music Night 2013

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