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Čoček

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BACKGROUND

Information: A line dance and a solo/pair dance.

Translation: The name is derived from the Turkish "köçek," a term applied during the Ottoman Empire to a class of young dancing boys.

Pronunciation: CHOH-chehk

Other names: Kjuček (Bulgarian solo/couple dance), Sa Sa (line dance).

Region: Bulgaria, Macedonia, and their immigrant communities.

Meter: 2/4, 7/8, 9/8, 10/8

Tunes: Ramo Ramo, the most common tune (2/4); Vranjanski Čoček (9/8)

Origin theory: Rom in the Shutka suburb of Skopje supplanted Na Ramo/Pravo and solo dancing/belly dancing/çiftetelli/karsilama dances where pairs dance facing each other, with Čoček. Their Slavic neighbors acquired it in the late 1970s, and took it to immigrant communities in Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Zurich, Vienna, and Copenhagen.


VARIANTS

The 12-step sequence, also called Ćuperlika/Ḱupurlika, a Rom dance in 7/8 from Veles.

1. Lift right foot.
2. Step back on right.
3. Lift left foot.
4. Step back on left.
5. Lift right foot.
6. Step back on right.
7. Close the left beside the right (or step slightly back).
8. Close the right beside the left (or step slightly forward).
9. Lift the left foot, and turn to face diagonally to the right.
10. Step forward on the left.
11. Step forward on the right.
12. Step forward on the left, and turn to face center again.

To fit 7/8, reduce steps 1, 5 and 9 by half a beat.

To fit 9/8, extend steps 4, 8 and 12 by half a beat.

To fit 10/8, extend steps 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 by half a beat.

To fit very slow music, double-time: omit lifts and dance on the offbeat.

Another 12-count pattern:

Bar 1: lift (on right), left, right, left (moving to right).
Bar 2: lift (on left), right, lift (on right), left (moving back a bit).
Bar 3: lift (on left), right, left, right (in place but facing to R again).


DOCUMENTS


BULGARIAN vs. MACEDONIAN vs. AMERICAN VARIANTS

Bulgarian Roma

Dance solo to Kjučetsi in 2/4, 7/8, or 9/8.

Have also a line dance for Kjučetsi in 9/8 (basically lift step step step) not found among Macedonian Rom.

Macedonian Roma

Have a crossing line dance in 9/8 Čoček (most commonly called by various song titles, e.g., Afet Dude), related to Slavic Macedonian crossing dances like Čučuk. Among both Macedonian and Bulgarian Rom, sponsors of the event or honored guests dance solo in the center of the broken circle. Women are the primary dancers, with men dancing occasionally with other men. Macedonian Rom use the term Čoček for solo dances and the term oro (or the song title) for line Čoček. A Romani asking for Čoček might start a line dance to which others would join according to family relationships. The Romani would then dance solo in the center.

Do line dances to 2/4 Čočeci other than the 3-measure common pattern we dance: Gajda (Bitola Rom) and Širte.

American Serbians

Since about 1995, Milwaukee Serbs have danced Sa Sa as a "running Čoček" . . . an aerobic workout done by mostly young Serbs and foolish international folk dancers. You dance R-L-R L-R-L R-L (turned backwards) as you are rapidly pulled around in a line that is weaving madly around the dance floor. The band announces that they are playing Sa Sa or Op Sa before madness begins.

American Croatians

Milwaukee Croatians found Op Sa in about 1995, but they do a more sedate Lesnoto type dance. I have seen both the Sa Sa dance described above and the more sedate Lesnoto dance done at the same time by different groups (at the same dance) when Op Sa was played! I believe Op Sa is a relatively new tune played by tamburica orchestras around the country. I first saw the dance Op Sa done by the Tammies at an after-dinner dance in Milwaukee . . . I have since seen it done at other Croatian dances in the area.

–Forrest Johnson


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