Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dancing Though the Alphabet: Letter Z

“Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of a jakes with him.
William Shakespeare

Why Shakespeare had such a low opinion of the letter "z", I don't know. He probably didn't know of the existence of Balkan dancing.

Back in Shakespeare's time, Britain was its own happy little world. Few people traveled far from where they were born except for some brave explorers who sailed to the New World and the British Navy who fought the Spanish at sea.

Travel in those days was dangerous, expensive and time consuming.  The British had no idea of the Balkan world until Bram Stoker wrote his famous novel about the vampire, Dracula.

He then opened up the Balkans to English speakers, who, all of a sudden, had this fascination about vampires and Transylvania.

Today we go further south, to Greece, with two dances that begin with the letter Z.

The first one, Zagorisios, is in the odd time signature of 5/4.  It's a slow, but very subtle, and with this kind of rhythm you have to pay attention to what you're doing.

These dancers are from Ottawa, Canada, and it's their annual Christmas party.

The next video is Zonaradikos, named after the belt hold used in the dance. It is from the region of Thrace in Greece.  Bulgarian Thrace is the home of  Pravo Horo, which is very similar to the Greek Zonaradikos.

The bonus video for the last letter of the alphabet features a vintage episode of Sesame Street and Kermit.  The letter "z" seems to be giving him trouble, but then, "it's not easy being green."

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Dances and Their Greek Relatives

Beethoven With A Bulgarian Accent; Mozart Goes Greek

The "Flavors" of Greek Syrtos

For more about Dracula and Transylvania read: Folklore and Pop Culture (Again!)

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