Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Dancing Hat

Hats have power.  Hats can change you into something else. 
Catherynne M. Valente

Today's post is about an ethno-pop dance band from Romania. The name of the group: Ro-mania. The song is about a magic hat (beret) that has a mind of its own. It belongs to the violinist, who takes it off when he plays the violin. The hat makes its way through town and lands on the ground.

 A curious young woman picks it up and puts it on her head; she can't stop dancing until she takes it off. The hat finds its way to a street artist (it lands on his head) and he dances as well. After he takes it off, the hat makes its way to a street sweeper, who also can't stop dancing until she tosses the hat. The hat ends up back where it started, and the music stops.

The video is fun to watch.  While the hat makes its journey the guys go crazy singing and tapping on the table. Make sure to watch it all.  It's 3 1/2 minutes of fun.

The rhythm of this song is geampara (apple-apple-pineapple). It is similar to Bulgarian rachenitsa. Geampara is a dance native to the Romanian folklore region of Dobrogea.

   Video #2 is a geampara  performed by a group from Taiwan. The instructor does a great job (he can really shake that body as well!) Unfortunately, I have not seen any groups in North America or Europe do this dance.  I wonder if the hat is in there somewhere....

We are going to let 2020 go out with a bang and hope 2021 won't be a repeat of 2020. Regulars have probably seen this before: Dunavsko Horo with a war movie as a soundtrack. It's time to kill 2020! 

Notice that the explosions are in time with the music. Hopefully by the end of 2021 things will get back to normal and people will be dancing together again.

If you enjoyed this you may also like: The Best of the Alien Diaries 2010-2015.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Most Popular Balkan Dances on Zoom: Part Five

Pop music is a difficult term to define. I think about good music and bad music. Good music is good music whatever origin it comes from.

Nina Persson

This month's post is fifth in a series based on Balkan dances popular on Zoom. I'm not too crazy about the first two, modern choreographies done to pop songs, however, in the interest of research and open mindedness, have featured them here. So many people like this stuff, so there must be a reason why it's so popular.  I prefer to dance to more traditional music.

Video #1 is Cine are Noroc are, a Roma dance from Romania.  The singer is Nicolae Guță, who, according to Wikipedia, has had quite a wild life. The music style is manele, a pop folk style widespread in Romania, created primarily for dancing.  According to the article many of the lyrics of these songs are "questionable" and not family friendly.  The music takes up residence in your head without paying rent.

I found the lyrics for the song.  It's about a man born to be lucky.  Some of it did not make sense (lost in translation, maybe?)  Maybe it's popular these days because there's a pandemic going on and staying well (until we get vaccinated) is part being careful and part luck.  There are some elderly people, despite the odds, who have recovered from the virus.
Video #2 is Mashala, a modern pop tune from the Pirin region of Bulgaria. It was described on YouTube as a "Pirin Style Dance."  Ira Weisbund is the choreographer.

The singer's is Rayna (she goes by her first name), and she was born in Sandanski, Bulgaria in 1981. She does both pop and traditional folk songs. (She does a really good job with the more traditional music.  I have seen several of her videos and they are actually quite good.)

From what I was able to garner from listening to the lyrics the song is about a wedding celebration. The original YouTube video shows people dancing horo.
Pop-folk in Bulgaria is also known as chalga.  It's one of those things people either love or hate. Chalga, like its Romanian counterpart, manele, features songs of questionable quality, sometimes with nonsense lyrics and sexual content.  These songs also tend to be earworms and live on in your head for hours, if not days. 

Here is a suggestion on how to get rid of an earworm.

I could not find the lyrics nor the dance notes for Mashala. From what I found "mashala" is a word derived from Arabic that has made its way into the Bulgarian language.

Video #3 is the dance Tervelska Raka from the Bulgarian folklore region of Dobrudja.  There is a song that goes along with it about a girl, Marinka, who captivates the young men in the neighborhood with her beautiful voice.
This is a traditional song and melody. It's a pleasure to listen to, and the dance is often requested on Zoom.  (Fortunately there are some traditionalists out there).

If you enjoyed this you may also like the series Most Popular Balkan Dances on Zoom (parts 1-4).  Somebody remarked at a Zoom dance the other day that Zek Zek Dadumle was one of the most popular dances in 2020.  It's in Part One.
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