Monday, November 9, 2015

Fun and Easy Folk Dances from Bulgaria

Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.
Lao Tzu

Most people are under the impression that Bulgarian folk dances are intimidating.  Although it's true that more than a few of them fit that category, there are also dances easy enough for beginners.

Tropanka from Dobrudja is a follow-the-leader type dance  The most difficult part is coordinating the arm movements with the feet. According to the notes, the leader can call the changes anytime, or when the music changes. The leader is the teacher in the center of the circle.

Tropanka is a dance native to the Bulgarian folklore region of Dobrudja. There are many variations of tropanka with different music.

Video #1  shows three distinct figures: two that go from side to side and one that goes into the center. A "village" that I dance with includes a fourth figure (not shown here); walking around the perimeter of the circle, with scuffs instead of stamps.

Ekizlisko Horo is a little faster than tropanka. A group of students from Greece performs this dance during a gym class.  This was part of a Bulgaria Day celebration at their school. The most challenging part of the dance is the basket hold, when you link arms with your neighbors like a basket. This group uses a front basket hold, and the dance consists of grapevine steps; first to the right and then to the left.

The dance comes from the region of Thrace in Bulgaria.  There is also a Thrace in Greece where many of the dances share similarities to their Bulgarian counterparts; for example Pravo Horo (Bulgaria) and Zonaradikos (Greece). There are numerous Bulgarian dances based on pravo rhythm, which can be in either 2/4 or 6/8. 

Video #3 shows Dvadzti Tritzdi, a walking dance from the Rhodope region. This group is from the "village" of Vienna, Austria. Different "villages" have different variations of this dance. Ours uses grapevine steps instead of the side to side seen in the video..

One of my favorite websites is the Songbook for Nearsighted People, a collection of over 200 folk songs with translations into German and English. The songs from Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece are in the original language, transliterated. Even if you're not visually challenged, this collection makes a great reference for those who are curious about what their favorite folk songs are about. If you have trouble reading small print, or have left the reading glasses at home, the large font is very helpful.

You can find the lyrics for the song here, along with a translation into German. Go ahead and sing along.

Video #4 is the same group as in video #3.  Although Vienna is best known for classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart and the Waltz King Johann Strauss, you will find a number of clubs that focus on folk dances, especially from the Balkans.. The site is in German and has a listing of locations, along with dates, times, type of dances, and skill level.

Video #4 is Vrapcheto, a dance from northwestern Bulgaria. Although many dances from this region are fast, this one is slow and easy.  You can sing along to this one, too.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing Across Bulgaria, the Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

Bulgarian Folk Dancing in and around Vienna, Austria

You will find some challenging dances in Bulgarian Folk Dances Named After Cities and Towns

For more on different village variations read: Two Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Kraj Dunavsko Horo

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