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Arap
By Ron Houston and friends

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Ron Houston

BACKGROUND

Information: A dance and song.

Arap came to the town of Petrič and the Struma River valley in Pirin (Bulgarian Eastern Macedonia) with refugees from the village of Spatovo, Ser region (Aegean Macedonia) during the sad days of forced Hellenization following the 1st World War. Not that the refugees found peace – Macedonians, Bulgarians, Pomaks (Bulgarian Moslems), Albanians, Molossians, Byzantines, Greeks, Roma, Vlachs, and a few remaining Turks populate the area, and radicals, short on brains and long on bullets, from every nation that once occupied Macedonia, now claim an ancient territorial imperative. Except for Rome. I haven’t heard any ancient Romans advocating the annexation of Macedonia. Yet.

Translated by: Tatiana Nikolova-Houston from Tantsova samodeynost, #1, 1958.

Translation: Arab

Pronunciation: AH-rahp

Other names:
          Arap Avasi – Joe Graziosi’s Turkish-Greco-Slavic name.
          Katerina Moma – Ventzi’s name, not to be confused with other Bulgarian dances of similar name.
          Zajko Kokorajko = Zayko Kukurayko – Engler/Boxell’s substitute tune.

Location: The dance Arap is danced in Petrich region and around the valley of the river Struma.

Region: The dance Arap is danced in Petrich region and around the valley of the river Struma.

Meter: Done with zurna and tupan accompanying it in measure 2/4.

Music: The recorded variant is made with the help of refugees come from the village of Spatovo, Ser region (Aegean Macedonia).

Formation: Hold of hands with folded in elbows arms.

Steps and Style: The women dance more restrained manner with low steps.

Document: Folk Dance Problem Solver (1998), Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH), San Antonio, TX. Arap.

Note: The dance is done in two parts: slow and fast; the slow one is more smooth, and the faster one contains leap steps.


BARS ACTION

MOV 1.   Čuckče and step (stupka). Initial position of the feet – 1st position.
1 Čuckče with the L, low svivka with the R (ct 1), step with the R to the right, the L is taken in position of low svivka (ct 2).
 
MOV 2.   Lost with čuckče (lever, rod with a hammer). Initial position of the feet – 1st.
1 Čuckče with the R, low svivka with the L foot.
2 Low lost (lever) with the L foot and a slight spring with the R.
 
MOV 3.   Walk backwards with feet coming back. Initial position of the feet – 1st position.
1 Step with the L foot behind the R, as the R lifts up from the ground.
2 The R foot comes back next to the L in 1st position.
 
MOV 4.   Čuckče with both feet. Initial position of the feet – 1st position.
1 Čuckče with both feet.
2 Pause.
 
MOV 5.   Lyush (swing) and backward svivka. Initial position of the feet – 1st.
1 Step with the R foot forward, backward svivka with the L.
2 Step with the L backwards, low inside svivka with the R.
 
MOV 6.   Crossed steps. Initial position, front svivka with the R foot.
1 Step with the R behind the L to the left, low svivka with the L, and the body turns to the right.
2 Step with the L in front of the R to the right, a low svivka with the R.

MOVEMENTS

  The slow part – 48 bars.
1 Mov.1 – Čuckče and step.
2 Mov.1 – Čuckče and step with the other foot.
3 Mov.1 – Čuckče and step.
4 Mov.2 – Lost (lever) with čuckče.
5 Mov.3 – Walk backwards with feet coming back.
6 Mov.4 – Čuckče with both feet.
7 Mov.5 – Lyush (swing) and backward svivka.
8 Mov.6 – Crossed steps
9-48 Repeating 1-8 bars.
  The fast part – 48 bars.
       Done are the slow movement part, as instead of the chuckche is done a leaping step.

BASIC VARIATION

bar 1

            1        &          2        &        3       &          4        &
            hop*   pause  hop    step   step   pause  step   step

            * Sometimes this is a step, when transitioning from another step.


bar 2

            1        &          2        &        3       &          4        &
            step   pause  hop    step   step   pause   step   pause
            L                    L        R       L                     R
            back                                  bhnd L to L              fwd


VARIATION 2

bar 1

            Step* [otherwise as in bar 1 of variation 1]

            * Hop when transitioning from step 1.


bar 2 - As in bar 2 variation 1 except:

                                                     3       &          4        &
                                                     L       pause  R        pause
                                                     to L               to R


bar 3

            1        &          2        &        3       &          4        &
            step    step    step   pause touch pause  touch pause
            L         R         L       R       L         heel     R       heel
            fwd         fwd         fwd                 to floor to L shin


VARIATION 3

            As in variation 2, but leave off counts 3&4& of bar 3.


VARIATION 4

            As in variation 2, but change bar 2.

                                                     3       &          4        &
                                                     leap  stamp   leap   stamp
                                                     L       R          L        R


VARIATION 5

            As in variation 1 except add an extra counts 1&2& before bar 1, which is the same as counts 1&2& of count 1.


Arap, a pejorative term applied to anyone of imagined darker skin pigmentation than the speaker, also names this Slavic conception of Arabic dance, later choreographed for Soviet-inspired folk ballets and adapted by folklorists for international folk dancers in the United States in four delightful flavors:


THE GORDON ENGLER/DENNIS BOXELL ARAP

In about 1967, Gordon Engler and Dennis Boxell introduced Arap to the United States. Not having the original music by tûpan (drum) and zurna (ear-splitting tool of the devil), Engler/Boxell used a very similar Macedonian song, Zajko Kokorajko, then available on the 10-inch Jugoton records LP EPY 3009 and LPY 64, and derivative recordings such as Monitor MFS 444 and Festival Records FM 4001a. Jugoton credited Alexsandar Sarievski as the singer with the Koche Petrovskog band and did not credit Pece Atanasovski on gajda (bagpipe). The "real" dance/game to Zajko Kokorajko did not appear for years, or maybe decades, and then could not compete with the then-ubiquitous Arap.

The Engler/Boxell version of Arap, unlike the unfortunate rabbit sung about in Zajko Kokorajko, found a home and spawned countless variations, some of which are documented in the Society Archives:

The triple bounce variation in bar 6 appeared immediately; double bounces came later. One Dallas folk dance leader (now deceased) who had seen only the double bounce variation boasted to me in the early 1970s of adding a third bounce to bar 6: apparently a case of parallel evolution!

The broad swings of the legs that begin the dance, allegedly caused by the heavy, baggy trousers worn by Pirin men, disappeared as did the trousers themselves [as American folk dance researchers traded blue jeans for dances and costumes?]. Ironically, this swing may have been an American invention, since early Bulgarian notes Biblioteka: Tantsova samodeynost: Pirinskite Narodni Tantsi, vol. 1, 1958 specify the low kick, instead.

The hypnotic Zajko Kokorajko music on the original (substitute) recordings and their derivatives was replaced on American re-recordings of bassoon ["well, they’re both double reeds, and you know what gayda players cost," she whined].

Perhaps because the incorrect music had a slower tempo than "real" Arap music, subsequent recordings were recorded at a faster tempo. (The original music actually started slow and sped up!)

The heel touch of bar 4 became a brush, "almost" touching the floor.

Australian notes describe the dance as beginning on bar 7 [perhaps our mates down under don’t wait through the introduction?] and present Zajko Kokorajko as the original music. Because of this, the pantomime shooting of the rabbit (a dancer wearing rabbit ears) by a hunter (a dancer carrying a stick to mimic a rifle) entered the otherwise hare-less dance.

Meter: 2/4

Formation: Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders. Free hands hold or twirl handkerchiefs. Note: men are told to dance broadly, strongly, and proudly while women are admonished to dance demurely.


BARS ACTION

  Introduction.
1-12 Wait through the gayda introduction and start counting with the drumbeats. No action, mate!
 
1.   The dance. Start dancing with the singing, or with the beginning of any musical phrase.
1 Čukče (raise and lower heel) with L foot, swinging R knee up, hip-high, and across in an inward arc with R foot extended a bit beyond R knee, starting diagonally forward to R and ending in front of R hip (ct 1), step forward and CCW around the circle onto R foot (ct 2).
2 Repeat lift-step with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3 = 1 (lift, step R), turning to face center.
 

Note: Some folk dancers, especially those with stiff hips, perform these three lift-steps without the wide, inward swing of the knee. Some, in fact, omit the knee-lift entirely. Well, be nice. It’s not your job to correct them. And besides, those knee swings were probably an American invention.

4 Facing center, chukche with R foot, lifting L knee forward and L foot in back (ct 1), bend R knee a bit, lean back a bit, and straighten L knee to place L heel on floor as far forward as it comfortably will go (ct 2).
 

Yep, some folks dance this "bicycle" movement as a sort-of "back-bicycle." As before, it’s not your job to correct them.

5 Walk backward and away from center 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6 Jump lightly in place onto both flat feet (ct 1), and optionally add 2 bounces (cts &,2).
 

You may settle onto both feet with knees slightly bent, bounce twice (cts 1,2), or bounce thrice (cts 1,&,2). I think we’re into the realm of individual and village variation here, although those Bulgarian notes from 1958 mention only one bounce.

7 Step in front of L foot onto R foot, kicking L foot to back of R calf (ct 1), step back, in place, onto L foot (ct 2), turning to face to R and CCW around the circle.
8 Facing to R and CCW around the circle, walk forward 2 steps onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
 
  Repeat action of bars 1-8 to the end of the music. In its original setting, the dance would speed up, with hops replacing the chukches in bars 1-3.

JOE GRAZIOSI'S ARAP AVASI from the village of Koimisis (Spatova).

Joe Graziosi presented in about 1987 what he called a Greco-Slav version that resembled variation 2 (above) as well as in subsequent versions of the dance. He titled it Arap Avasi, attributing these words to the Turkish for "Arab" and "tune."

The Ventzi Sotirov / Pirin Ensemble Katerina Moma (Arap)

In about 1993, Ventzi Sotirov, formerly a dancer with the Pirin ensemble, presented a somewhat more energetic version of the dance, calling it Katerina Moma. Ventzi’s Arap appears to reflect the dance as it is now taught in the choreographic academy in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Meter: 2/4

Formation: Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders.


BARS ACTION

  The Dance.
1 With a slight bounce (flex and straighten) on L knee, lift R knee forward and then straighten R knee to extend R foot forward (ct 1), step forward onto R foot (ct 2).
2 Repeat bounce-step with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3 = 1 (bounce, step R).
4 With a slight bounce on R knee, lift L knee forward and then straighten L knee to extend L foot forward (ct 1), turning to face center, step beside R foot onto L foot (ct 2).
5 Step in front of L foot onto R foot (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2).
6 Close R foot to L foot, no weight (ct 1).
7-8 = 5-6 (step forward, step back, close).
  Face to R and CCW around the circle to repeat action of bars 1-8 until the tempo increases. With the faster tempo, change the bounces of bars 1-4 to forward hops, and replace the action of bar 8 with:
8 Face to R and CCW around the circle and step forward onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
 
  Repeat 1-8 to the end of the music.

So what’s the difference between Joe’s Arap and some variations on the Engler/Boxell Arap? Not so much.

  1. That heel extension into the center now became a heel extension around the circle in the direction of the dance, a change that persisted into subsequent versions of the dance.
  2. Joe also added that slow-tempo variation for bar 8, reverting to the more commonly noted "step-step" when the tempo increased.

VENTZI SOTIROV'S KATERINA MOMA (ARAP)

Meter: 2/4

Formation: Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders.


BARS ACTION

  The Dance.
1 Čukče (raise and lower heel) with L foot and Spusek (raise knee, then kick heel forward and down) with R foot (ct 1), step forward and CCW around the circle onto R foot (ct 2).
2 Repeat čukče-Spusek with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3 = 1 (Čukče-Spusek).
4 Spusek twice with L foot, bending R knee each time, the second Spusek having a deeper knee-bend (cts 1,2).
5 Walk backwards, CW around the circle 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6 Facing center, jump in place twice onto both flat feet (cts 1,2).
7 Step in front of L foot onto R foot, lowering joined hands slowly (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2), turning to face to R and CCW around the circle.
8 Facing to R and CCW around the circle, walk forward 2 steps "like a cat" onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2), raising joined hands.
9-40 = 1-8, 5 times in all.
  Finale.
41-42 = 1-2.
43 Spusek twice with R foot, bending L knee each time, the second Spusek having a deeper knee-bend (cts 1,2).
44 Walk backwards, CW around the circle 2 steps onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
45 Facing center, step in front of L foot onto R foot, lowering joined hands (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2), raising hands.
46 Facing center, leap to R onto R foot, lifting L foot across R foot with sole of L foot facing to R (ct 1), leap to L onto L foot, lifting R foot across L foot with sole of R foot facing to L (ct 2).

So what’s different about Ventzi’s Arap? Again, not much. It’s still the same basic dance, and we got to learn a new Bulgarian dance term, spusek. Notable changes include:

  1. That fourth introductory chukche-spusek became twice as long.
  2. Bars 7-8 gained hand movements.
  3. We got a fancy ending.

TOMA KARAPAUNOV'S ARAP

Toma Karapaunov, a graduate of the Bulgarian army ensemble, taught a yet more energetic version of Arap to participants of the 1996 Society of Folk Dance Historians Bulgarian Seminar, held partly in Toma’s hometown of Momchilovtsi, Rhodope. Toma presented men’s variations, as well.

Meter: 2/4

Formation: Broken circle of men and women; hands joined at sides. Free hands at sides or fingers-forward on hips. Men may also dance Arap as a solo dance, adding the arm movements.


BARS ACTION

  Introduction.
  As long as you want. Start dancing with any musical phrase.
 
    Forward. Face to R and CCW around the circle.
1 Bouncing on L foot, kick R foot forward with R knee straight (ct 1), step forward onto R foot (ct 2).
2 Bouncing on R foot, kick L foot forward with L knee straight (ct 1), step forward onto L foot (ct 2).
3 = 1 (kick-step forward onto R foot).
4 Bouncing on R foot, kick L foot forward with L knee straight (ct 1), bounce again on R foot, keeping L foot forward (ct 2).
 
    Backward. Still facing to R:
5 Run backward 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6 Jump back onto both feet, turning to face center (ct 1), hop on L foot, raising R foot to L ankle (ct 2).
7 Facing center, bend over and stamp lightly in front of L foot onto R foot with knees bent a bit and L foot kicked up to back of R knee (ct 1), step back onto L foot, turning to face to R and CCW around the circle (ct 2).
8 Run lightly 2 small steps to R and CCW around the circle onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
  Repeat bars 1-8 to the end of the music.
 
    Men’s linear variation. Add the following to the above:
1 Hold R hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Bend L elbow to place L hand in front of chest, palm down.
2 Reverse hands to hold L hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Bend R elbow to place palm-down R hand in front of chest.
3 = 1.
4 Hold L hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Raise R hand overhead, palm forward and arm straight.
5 Swing L arm forward and R arm back (ct 1), swing L arm back and R arm forward (ct 2)..
6 Swing L arm forward and R arm back (ct 1). Hands stay in this position as the body twists to face to L.
7-8 Swing L arm forward and R arm back (ct 1), swing L arm back and R arm forward (ct 2).
 
    Men’s turning variation. Add the following to the above linear variation:
1-4 As above.
5 Bend elbows to raise both hands hat-high as you turn rapidly once CCW with the 2 steps.
6-8 Lower the hands and resume the linear variation.

LYRICS

The Words are taken directly from the MIT Folk Dance Club Songbook. Most of the words came from the Jugoton recording of Alexsandar Sarievski, but those in parentheses come from the Balkanton recording of Kostadin Gugov. Here’s that song. Back in the 1970s people actually memorized it. We never knew what all the words meant, but we memorized it anyway!

ZAJKO KOKORAJKO
(Wary rabbit)

Storil nijet zajko, zajko kokorajko
Zajko da se zheni zajko serbezlija
si natresol gak'i uprchil mustak'i
nagrnal dzhamadan kapa fishkulija
More, tokmo mladozhena
 
Mi posvrshil zajko lina udovica
kitka nakitena maza razmazhena
poznata dzhimrijka svetska ispolica
more selska vizitarka
 
Mi pokanil zajko kiteni svatovi,
mechka mesarija vuchica kumica,
zhaba zurladzhijka, ezho tupandzhija
oven esapchija murdzho aberdzhija
Zajko kokorajko
si natresol gak'i, uprchil mustak'i
nagrnal dzhamadan kapa fishkulija,
more, tokmo mladozhenja
 
Pa mi trgnal zajko niz Solunsko pole
da si vidi zajko lisa udovica
Tam si najde zajko mesto lindralija
kvachka so pilinja, teshka meravdzhika,
lichi za nevesta!
 
Koga vide zajko toa chudno chudo
pa mi letna zajko nazad na tragovi
Tam si sretna zajko do dva-tri lovdzhii,
em oni si nosat pushki sachmalii
more, 'rti em zagari!
 
Pa mi presnal zajko, zajko da mi bega,
si iskinal gak'i, razmrsil mustak'i
iskinal dzhamadan, vikna se provikna:
More, nesum maldozhenja!
      Rabbit made a plan, popeyed Rabbit,
that he would get married, hotshot Rabbit.
He pulled on his trousers, twirled his moustache,
Got into his jacket and his fez.
Hey just like a bridegroom!
 
Rabbit got engaged to widow Fox,
a flowery bouquet, a spoiled pet,
a well-known fussy eater, an avoider of work,
the village fussbudget!
 
Rabbit invited his weddign party:
a she-bear butcher, a she-wolf godmother,
a frog to play zurla, a hedgehog for drummer
a ram for bookkeeper, a watchdog weddign crier.
Popeyed Rabbit
pulled on his trousers, twirled his mustache,
got into his jacket and his fez.
Hey, just like a bridegroom!
 
Then Rabbit set off through the region of Salonika
to see Widow Fox.
There Rabbit found instead of a sleek fox,
a hen with chicks, a heavy dowry,
it looks like the bride!
 
When Rabbit saw this wondrous wonder
Rabbit flew back on his tracks.
Then Rabbit met with two or three hunters,
and they had guns,
and hunting dogs!
 
Rabbit shot off running,
lost his trousers, messed up his mustache,
threw off his jacket, cried out,
"Hey, I'm not a bridegroom!"

ALTERNATE LYRICS

Just as a side note before I type in the words for Shto imala kusmet stamena. The boys from Bouf have a lovely version of Zajko Kokorajko sung as a čoček.

Ok, now the words to the other song, again taken from the MIT Folk Dance Club Songbook. Interestingly next to the name, is written in brackets "(skopsko zaramo)"

/ Shto imala kusmet stamena stamena,
majka je bolna padnala padnala /
 
/ Majka je bolna padnala, padnala,
posakala voda studena, studena /
 
Stamena zema stomnite stomnite,
/ otide na chesma sharena, sharena /
da napolni voda studena, studena
 
/ vo selo oro igrale, igrale,
na tanec mladi stojane, stojane /
      Stamena had the misfortune that
her mother fell sick.
 
Her mother fell sick,
she asked for cold water.
 
Stamena took jugs.
She went out to the multicolored fountain
to fill them with cold water.
 
In the village they were dancing an oro.
The leader was young Stojan.

COMMENTS

Excerpts from postings to the EEFC listserve:

Dick Crum:

My involvement with Arap is as follows: When the Kutev Ensemble first came to the United States (I don't have the date handy – early '60s), I went to New York City to see the premiere at Lincoln Center. I knew some of the singers and dancers, and over the next few days there were a number of dance parties and other get-togethers. Two young men in the group (brothers or cousins) were born and raised in a village near Serres (their word was "Sersko"), present-day Greece, but were of Slav (Slavophone-Bulgarian-Macedonian, let's not get into that) ethnicity and had emigrated with their parents to Sofia. They showed us this dance from their native village. It was called "Arap." The music, which one of them played on a gudulka and, on another occasion, on a kaval, was very monotonous, consisting of a 2-measure phrase repeated endlessly (the second meas had 2 accented quarter-beats, a distinct "bam-bam"). They did not sing any lyrics to it. We liked the dance, and I jotted it down.

Not long after that, I came across Aco Sarievski's rendering of "Zajko kokorajko" on a Jugoton disk, and realized that it was the same tune as "Arap". Unfortunately it had the vocal to it, but it certainly was the same melody, so I began teaching "Arap" to it. I believe I first taught it in Boston, where I was living at the time, or New York, in around 1963. My earliest dated notes are from a workshop I did in Chicago in 1964. I was careful to mention that the lyrics had nothing to do with the dance, that it was an unrelated humorous Macedonian song about a hapless rabbit would-be bridegroom. But it wasn't long (you have to have been around in those days to fully understand the then-Balkan scene) people began requesting the words. I sat down and transcribed them and gave them to Ira Gessel, who was at MIT at the time, editing the MIT Folk Dance Club Songbook. I also gave copies to a couple other folk dancers. Soon after that, people started calling the dance "Zajko" and unenlightened folks began to see rabbit-like elements in the dance, and I imagine some were already seeing pagan fertility ritual origins in it.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 1972, I visited The Intersection folk dance coffee house one Wednesday night (regular Balkan night at that time), and at one point heard the familiar tune, and saw the floor fill up with dancers doing a very fast dance to it, totally unrelated to what I knew as "Arap" – the footwork was intricate and in the style of "Ratevka," "Kopacka" or "Berovka", but everybody was doing it. When I asked what it was, I was told "Zajko kokorajko." I'm not familiar with the "Skopsko za ramo" mentioned by some other contributors – maybe that's what it was, although my knee-jerk (excuse!) reaction to that title would be the old familiar Lesno as done in Skopje.

I recently saw a video by a Bulgarian teacher named Ventsi Sotirov, who I believe lives in Chicago. He does a dance called "Arap" which is clearly the same dance I learned from the boys from "Sersko," with one or two minor, expected, differences. Also, the version introduced by Dennis Boxell is essentially the same.

The literal, dictionary, translation of "Arap" is, of course, "Arab;" however, in Balkan folklore the word "arap" or "arapin" occurs frequently referring to an ill-defined, dark-complexioned, malevolent adversary or superhuman being. There is a whole cycle of epic poems about Marko Kraljević and the "crni arapin".

Given 35 years' retrospect, I should probably not have taught Arap to the Zajko kokorajko recording. Nor, probably, should whoever made up Skopsko za ramo! Some day I may make a second installment to this, reminiscing about the vicissitudes of the United States Balkan dance at different periods in its history. It is "folklore within folklore!"


Yves Moreau:

1. I was Dennis Boxell's teaching assistant at Stockton Folk Dance Camp in 1967 when he taught Arap to the Zajko Kokorajko song. His notes say that the origin is Pirin-Macedonia (no specific source).

2. I also found syllabi in my files indicating that Dick Crum as well as Gordon Engler had taught it several years previously.

3. I first saw the multiple-figured dance done to Zajko Kokorajko music at the Intersection in Los Angeles. I learned the dance from Rubi Vučeta who used to teach this dance in Southern California. It had THREE figures (not 5 or 6). It did have a "Berovka" feeling and structure. When I asked her the name of the dance she said, folks here just call it Zajko Kokorajko but the real name is Skopsko Zaramo (shoulder hold dance from Skopje region). I liked the dance but realized it was confusing to people to have 2 sets of steps to the same music. I wanted to teach this dance back east, so I dug into my record collection and found a very similar song "Sto Imala K'smet Stamena" sung by A. Sarievski to Pece's gajda and I remember teaching it at Columbia University in NYC in early 1968. It had a certain success then and some groups still do it. I also taught it in Chicago and other cities East of the Missisipi and I even have written notes for it. I never did find out the original source for this. Was it made up in California or from a Macedonian performing group ? Only Rubi (bless her soul) may have the answer. I agree with Jane Sugarman that the steps are more East Macedonian and don't look like what you'd see in Skopje.

4. I have found in my Bulgarian book collection and notes several mention of the dance ARAP. Kostadin Ruitchev describes it in "Folklorni hora ot Pirinski Kraj" 1963 and the dance has often been part of choreographed suites for such groups as Pirin Ensemble (Ruitchev was choreographer of Pirin in early years). The dance according to him originates from Serres region (now in Greece). Jaap Leegwater did teach Arap in 1984 and has two nice recordings on his cassette JL 1984.02. One is played on zurna and tapan by musicians from Debren; the second one is by an ad hoc group from the Pirin Ensemble on bitovi instrumenti such as kaval, tambura, etc. Jaap Leegwater says he learned the dance from Ivan Piperkov in Blagoevgrad in 1975 and later saw K. Ruitčev teaching it at a seminar in Holland. If I remember well, Jaap taught it at a workshop in Vancouver BC a few years back. The dance is very similar from the Crum-Boxell version. The music has that same slow heavy tempo.

5. The song Zajko Kokorajko is very famous all over Macedonia. The first recording is most likely Alexander Sarievski's (late 1950s) on the old Jugoton EPY 3009 accompanied by the (young) Pece Atanasovski on gajda. The record was re-issued in the US for folk dancers on several labels (Festival, Monitor, Mediterranean etc.) Sarievski re-recorded at least two other versions with modern orchestras in the 1960s and 1970s. A collection of Macedonian Songs by V. Hadjimanov, Skopje 1964 has the music and words of Zajko. Hadjimanov says his original source was Todor Boshkov of Skopje in 1955. Boshkov his indeed Vaska Ilieva's father and was well-known as a kaval player in the early Tanec years. It's interesting that Vaska herself never recorded this song (although she often toured on stage with Sarievski). I even have a version of Zajko on Balkanton sung by Kostadin Gugov, a Macedonian singer living in Sofia, Bulgaria.

6. There is a popular dance in Macedonia called Zae&269;ko, or Zajačko (the rabbit's dance) usually done by men imitating a story of hunters chasing a rabbit. I've seen the dance at several weddings in Pirin and Rhodopes and also staged versions by Tanec and Pirin ensembles. Two versions of the dance are described in G. Dimčevski's book: Vie se Oro Makedonsko, Skopje 1983, one from Skopje region, one from Sandanski in Pirin (also known as Tausan Avasi). I cannot recall ever seeing Zaečko done to Zajko Kokorajko though I remember Dennis Boxell asking me and a few other dancers to "mime" the story to the music of the band and singers for a Koleda Ensemble performance in Seattle in 1967.

7. Rajko Koukouraiko is not the same melody as Zajko and is widely played in Greek Macedonia (7/8). I did find however on a cassette produced by Dick van der Zwan (Holland) a field recording on floyera of the old Zajko melody. It was recorded in Naoussa Imathia in 1968. There is no mention or info on the dance done to this.

8. Finally as for Adana, the dance first appeared in 1964 or so when Dennis Boxell and Rickey Holden first toured the United States with Dennis Boxell (three Folkraft LP's). Dimčevski in his book says it is a men's dance from Veles. Tanec did perform a stage version of this. Atanas was lead dancer and choreographer of Tanec for many years. The Janković sisters describe a dance Adana in their vol. 3 Narodne Igre and say it is from Rastak, Skopje. I can't tell by the written notes in Serbian if the dance is similar to Atanas/Tanec version. That's all folks . . . thanks for your patience . . . cheers!

P.S.: Would be nice to hear comments from such knowledgeable resources as Crum, Liebman, Boxell, etc.

Yves Moreau


Linda Levin:

I just had a telephone conversation with Dennis Boxell this morning regarding Zajko/Arap, etc. He confirmed that the song "Zajko kokorajko" has nothing to do with the dance "Arap," and that there is no dance to that song. However, there are "rabbit and hunter" pantomimes and dances all over the Balkans; "Laisios" of Greece is one of these. (Music for "Laisios" is on Dennis' cassette "Greek Regional Dances: Epirot/Thessalian/Vlach/Pontian/Thracian/Macedonian.")

Dennis has videos of some of these pantomimes. However, he notes that they generally end with the rabbit getting shot and dying dramatically, legs kicking in the air, not escaping! Regarding his teaching of the dance "Arap," he said that he simply re-taught the dance that Dick Crum had taught a few years before. His main aim was to correct some bizarre aberrations in styling that had developed among the dancers.


Anne Sirota:

The people of Olympiadha in the Ptolemaidha region of central Macedonia most certainly do a dance called Zaiko. In other parts of central-western Macedonia it is sometimes called Zaramo. But it is as the writer of the above stated, a hasaposerviko-cocek-type dance. I'm sure it has other names, too. It is danced to a variety of tunes. I am familiar with what Balkan folkdancers call Zajko Kokorajko and it does not resemble what I have seen in Greek Macedonia.

As to Arap, this word is rarely used to mean an Arab; the most common word for Arab is Aravas. Arap or Arapis usually refers to a black person. I do not know this as a carnival dance from central Macedonia or anywhere else. That doesn't mean that there is no dance by that name done at some carnival celebration. I am not familiar with it. I do know it from the Serres Prefecture. In fact, to date I have found it in at least three different forms. Two of them I have seen and know the music for. The third, a dance of mimicry, I have only had described to me in various villages.

If anyone is still interested in the introduction of Arap to the United States, Dick Crum taught it on June 29, 1964 at Maine Folk Dance Camp (it says so in the Pioneer Press for that day, and I was there to learn it). This is before the 1967 Stockton Folk Dance Camp, but I don't know if anyone was teaching it before 1964.

If I'm not mistaken, "kokorajko" comes from the verb "kokori se" which means either "to strut" or "to stare goggle-eyed". It could be either one in this song!

Having seen Jonce Hristovski (of Makedonsko Devojče fame) sing this tune, strutting around the stage with his shirt unbuttoned to his waist, "The Rabbit Dandy" seems appropriate indeed!

There is a dance in Thrace (which region escapes me right now) called Laissios which is a skit of a hunter chasing a rabbit. It has been performed several times both at the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance Festival and I have seen it on videos of village groups in Greece.


Joan C. Friedberg:

I think many Balkan regions have dances where the dancers impersonate and play out the hunter chasing after the rabbit. I've seen this dance "skit" in a book on Bulgarian dance, on an Albanian performance video, and possibly also on a carnival performance video from Greece, though never "live."

Thanks Jane. It's interesting to find out how long ago this dance was introduced in the United States, and that Dennis Boxell introduced it. Although in Serres (Greece) the music for Arap is played on zournades and daouli, the recorded music of the tune Zajko Kokorajko may not be entirely inappropriate either, especially if the dance (Arap) is known in other regions. Does not "zajko kokorajko" mean "rabbit kuker?" A 'kuker' would be the same as an 'arap', that is, both are people who dress up during carnival time in a costume that impersonates either an Arab or an animal. Silly folksongs about animals are popular in Greece and I presume throughout the Balkans. Also, I think many Balkan regions have dances where the dancers impersonate and play out the hunter chasing after the rabbit. I've seen this dance "skit" in a book on Bulgarian dance, on an Albanian performance video, and possibly also on a carnival performance video from Greece, though never "live."

<< Does not "zajko kokorajko" mean "rabbit kuker?" >>

If I'm not mistaken, "kokorajko" comes from the verb "kokori se" which means either "to strut" or "to stare goggle-eyed." It could be either one in this song! The first meaning would translate to "The Rabbit Dandy" (which makes a lot of sense considering the rest of the text); the second would point more to his facial appearance, which could very well have that pop-eyed bunny look.

I dug up an old syllabus of "Arap" from 1968 "Let's Dance!." It says the dance was learned by Dennis Boxell in Pirin, Bulgaria at a festival on the Macedonian-Bulgarian border, and "introduced" by him at the Stockton Folk Dance Camp in 1967. Since appropriate music was not available, he taught it to "Zajko kokorajko." This is the basic lift-step lift-step etc. version that, I suppose, is known by Balkan dancers throughout the United States. It is the fancier, multiple-variation one that seems to have been born in California. As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, the song was made famous by singer Aleksandar Sarievski, and on an album of his that I have the melody is credited to Todor Boskov, while the text is "folk/traditional." Todor was Vaska Ilieva's father and the first gajda player at Radio Skopje. He was from a village that is now within Skopje (Cair). So the music is kinda Skopje-style, whereas the various dances we have learned to it are more eastern Macedonian in style.

Well, in Boston a few years ago and when I lived in California, the more experienced dancers used to dance Skopsko Za Ramo behind the Arap line. I don't know if this is the dance "zajko kokorajko." Here are the steps (these are entirely from memory, so corrections are welcome). A few years ago Ira Gessel sent me notes for a version that was different than the one I remember.

The dance is done at "double time" to Arap (in Arap you step on every beat, in Sopsko Zaramo you also have something to do on the & counts), so it looks a lot faster than Arap.


FINALLY

A friend of mine who used to dance with one of the Yugoslav State Folk Dance troupes says that Zajko Kokorajko has its own dance and the correct tune for Arap is Što Imala Kismet Stamena. Yet I have on video two old Struga men doing Lesnoto to that tune. Then again lots of Macedonians will do Lesnoto to any number of different tunes.

My recollection from a conversation with Dick Crum (probably about 20 years ago) is that he learned the dance ("ARAP", meaning "Arab") from a couple of guys from Seres. To teach the dance in the United States, he needed music, but the 'proper' music was unavailable. However, the "Zajko Kokorajko" was a popular song in Skopja Macedonia at the time, so he used that recording. (The song is a humorous one about a rabbit who goes to Thessaloniki to get married; various animals play parts of a traditional wedding. A hunter comes along and all the animals in the wedding run back home.) I'm fuzzier about the following, but as I recall, Dick said that the tune was proper for the dance, but the words were not traditional, but a recent addition to that tune.


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