Sunday, July 15, 2018

Left Footed Dances and Exceptions to the Rules

There are those whose sole claim to profundity is the discovery of exceptions to the rules.
Tom Eldridge

One of the ladies from my dance group had recently attended a workshop in Bulgaria.   One of the interesting tidbits she got from one of the dance instructors was that dances from the Bulgarian region of Dobrudja always start on the left foot.   I found out that is not always true!

Here is a dance I have featured before on this blog, Kutsata, a rachenitsa from Dobrudja. This version starts on the left foot. It goes by the rules.

Notice that the group's name is 7/8: the rhythm for rachenitsa is apple-apple-pineapple. There are other variations on the 7/8 rhythm, which have been covered in previous posts (see links at end of post).

It would take hours if not days to find an exception to the "starts on the left foot" rule regarding dances from Dobrudja, but I found two.

The first is Dobruđanska Râka.  That caret is over the "a" for a reason.  In this case the "a" is pronounced almost like "u" (sometimes rachenitsa is spelled ruchenitsa for the same reason). There is plenty of arm movement in this dance, and in Bulgarian rŭka means "hand" or "forearm."

In English speaking countries this dance is called Dobrudjanska Reka.  In Bulgarian "reka" means river.  I wonder how many Bulgarians have been confused by our pronunciation?

In this version of Kutsata, with different choreography and music than Video #1, the dancers start on the right foot. I think there are rebel choreographers who go out of their way to break the rules, even in Dobrudja.

Video #4 is a dance not from Dobrujda, but from Strandzha, in the southern part of Bulgarian bordering Greece.  It is home to the Nestinari, the Fire Dancers who celebrate the day of Saints Constantine and Helen by dancing on hot coals. This dance, however, does not involve fire.

This left footed dance is Brestaska Rachenitsa.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on a Theme by Petko Stainov: Rachenitsa Travels to Guatemala

Dancing in Sevens, Part Three (there are links to Part One and Part Two)

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Kutsata

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