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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Bulgarian Dance
By Jaap Leegwater

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Jaap Leegwater

SEVERNJAŠKO
(Northern Bulgaria)

Dance

  • Wt mainly on the fore ft.
  • Small and energetic steps with high knee
    liftings.
  • The movements are light and upward.
  • Jumpy and bouncy.

Music

  • Fast, vivid tempo.
  • Vlach or Romanian influences.
  • Principal instruments:
  • All kinds of flutes (occarino, svirka, duduk, kaval and violin and Duhov ensembles).

TRAKIJA
(Thrace)

Dance

  • Wt mostly on the whole flat ft.
  • Slight knee bend pos.
  • All accents and stamps are dir twd the
    ground, downward.
  • "Earthy" quality.
  • Smooth and round movements.
  • Gracious hand and arm gestures
    in individual performances
  • "Contemplative," dignity.

Music

  • Starts often slow, "solemnly" then gradually builds to moderate then fast.
  • Composed-irregular meters in Western Thrace.
  • Rich melody lines.
  • Principal instruments:
  • Gâdulka, gajda, and kaval.

ŠOPLUK
(Western Bulgaria)

Dance

  • Wt on the fore ft.
  • Body leans slightly fwd.
  • Small, light and energetic steps
    with sharp knee liftings.
  • The upper part of the body moves fwd
    and back in coordination with the
    knee liftings.
  • Šopska Natrisane – relaxed shoulder
    bouncing on the rhythm of the steps.
  • "Jerky" and angular movements
  • Very expressive, outgoing, and "witty."

Music

  • Fast, vivid tempo.
  • Graovo – Syncopated beat in many slower and fast 2/4 dances.
  • The music consists of many 1/8 or 1/16 notes, which has the effect of the melody supporting and carrying the rhythm.
  • Principal instruments:
  • Flutes (svirka, duduk, kaval), gadulka, gajda, and tâpan.

DOBRUDŽA
(Northwestern Bulgaria)

Dance

MEN

  • Heavy, wt on the whole ft.
  • Knee bend pos.
  • Hips are slightly turned fwd.
  • Upper body erect and proud.
  • Every stamp is accompanied by
    slight knee bending or dipping.

WOMEN

  • Light, bouncy and feminine.
  • Rocking body and arm movements.

Music

  • Slow, moderate tempo, "stretched."
  • Both cts (main and secondary) are often stressed in the Dobrudžan 2/4 beat.
  • Slow 7/8 Râčenik, stressed are two out of three main cts.
  • Principal instrument:
  • Kopanka (a small gâdulka).
  • Typical combination:
  • Phuysharmonica, kopanka and gajda (Dobrudžanskata Trojka).

PIRIN
(Bulgarian Macedonia)

Dance

  • High and on the ball of the ft.
  • Liftings on the ball of the ft
    on cts & (upbeat).
  • Vertical bouncy character.
  • "Balanced" movements.
  • Many rhythmic and syncopated
    nuances.

Music

  • From slow to fast.
  • Very melodic, songs.
  • Rich in many different rhythms and irregular meters.
  • "Stretched" and playful interpretation of the beat.
  • Turkish influence; it is also the area of Moslim-Bulgarians (Pomaci).

RODOPA
(Rhodope Mountain Range)

Dance

  • Wt on the whole flat ft.
  • Čukče (low hops).

MEN

  • Expressive and strong.

WOMEN

  • Gracious, almost solemnly
    "deliberate" steps.

Music

  • Slow, usually to a song.
  • Horovodna pesen (Dancesong) or accompanied by a Kaba Gajda (low-pitched gajda).
  • Melancholic, gliding melodies and singing.
  • Here too, Pomak and Turkish influence.

DOCUMENT


Used with permission of the author.
Reprinted from the 1988 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp syllabus.


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