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Jeni Jol

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BACKGROUND

Information: A dance.

Translation: "New life," or "new way" or "new style," or "literally, "new path" from Turkish.

Pronunciation: YEH-nee YOHL

Other names: Ćupurlika, Ḱupurlika

Location: Titov Veles

Region: Macedonia

Meter: 7/8

Tunes: Seattle dancers use: Djurdjevdan, Corroro, Rumelaj, A song by Rromano Dives called E Djivanesqi Gili or Terno chavo, after the lyrics – a pretty tune that Greeks, Albanians, and Macedonians play, Kalyi Jag's Šar Čiriki (Szar csirikli).

Hand/Arm Hold: W-position and free

Participants: Women

Character: Temperamental with oriental elements in the solo parts. This is a typical Turkish women's dance originating in the Beg's harem courts during Turkish rule. In "Ḱupurlika" are preserved oriental erotic dance elements which have been greatly modified under the influence of native (Slavic) women's dances.


COMMENTS

According to Ǵrǵi Dimčevski in his book Vie se Oro Makedonsko (Skopje, 1983) as translated by the "Ostali Muzikaši" consortium (including our own redoubtable Rachel MacFarlane):

A "KUD" was a formally-recognized "cultural-artistic society" in Big Old Yugslavia – an ensemble. It is my understanding that the "Jeni Jol" ensemble represented some of the folks in Skopje's ethno-cultural melange outside the Orthodox Slavic mainstream, people whose cultural heritage (though not necessarily their descent line) owes a lot to the old urban Ottoman culture. I would appreciate more specific comments about the "Jeni Jol" group from anyone with firmer details. In particular, did ethnic Albanians participate in this ensemble?

Michael Kuharski

Note: "KUD" means Kulturno-umetnička društva (Cultural-Artistic Society), a state-sponsored folk group founded for the preservation of national folk music and dance, as opposed to being for entertainment purposes.


Since the dance Jeni Jol is on Folkraft LP-24 (one of the three LP set of Macedonian music), I assume that it was being taught by either Dennis Boxell or Atanas Kolarovski or both in the early to mid 1960s, and that I learned it in that way. I may have also seen it performed in Macedonia by the Jeni Jol KUD or others in 1965 or later. As I think about it, I believe that I probably learned it from Atanas at a Boston area workshop in 1965 or 1966.

I have two similar descriptions of the dance – probably by Dennis Boxell or Frank Kaltman of Folkraft (with minor differences). Neither is the dance as I know it. Both give a reasonable (but somewhat altered) form of the basic dance and one variation, although the variation is not one I ever recall having seen (involving a replacement of the initial three touch-steps by three running threes). They incorrectly have the dance being done with hands down, and claim that Jeni Jol is a Moslem man's name.

I was trying to locate my copy of Elsie Dunin's listing of when Yugoslav dances were introduced to California and by whom but am having no luck.

The music for Jeni Jol and Ḱupurlika are not on Pece Atanasovski's first album nor are the dances described in my booklet prepared for that trip. They are on the Olympic LP 6156 album and were taught by him on subsequent trips. My descriptions of these dances as he did them in 1982 are consistent with those in Elsie Dunin's recent book on the history of the dances done by Tanec (see below). There is the basic six-measure dance, a variation with turns on measures one and two, and in Tanec a third step – presumably totally choreographed in which every other woman turns 180° and rejoins her neighbors so that the line consists of an alternation of dancers facing in and out of the circle. (It is not clear to me how they can then dance this way unless steps are reversed.) Tanec did this with their Ḱupurlika as well.

Pece (according to my notes) describes the dance as a Turkish women's dance from the Skopje region now done by others as well.

Bob Leibman


With respect to the background:

"...first generation (Tanec) female dancers remember performing the dance during the earliest years. It was introduced by members of the Turkish KUD Jeni Jol group and accompanied by čalgija orchestra who were accepted into Tanec, 1950. The early Turkish repertoire in the Tanec programs was discontinued when the ensemble was scaled down in size (from over ninety to about fifty members) and the repertoire began to focus on Macedonian material. However the dance Jeni Jol (which means 'new life') is still performed by the Skopje-based KUD Jeni Jol in 1988. It appears that the dance acquired its name from the name of the KUD. Furthermore, the same step pattern (no name) is currently danced at spontaneous dance events by the Rom population in Skopje."

In Dances of Macedonia: Performance Genre – Tanec Ensemble. Dunin and Višinski. Skopje, 1995.

Finally, a note on structure (can't help myself): Clearly, this could be thought of as a half-time version of the basic three-measure pattern (Lesno, etc.) done with lifts on the down beat (shifted articulation between music and dance) – as is the case in Ḱupurlika.

Elsie Dunin writes:


I participated in Pece's camp in 1982 and still have my notes, on now flimsy, yellowed, yellow note paper. He taught both Jeni Jol and Ćuperlika and told us these were both women's harem dances from Ottoman times. As I recall, we used a little-finger hold for both. I think I had already learned these dances by doing them at Mendocino Camp. I also recall Jeni Jol being performed at the Illinden festival in Bitola that same summer by (I suppose) Moslem Romani women wearing hot pink pants, gathered at the ankle (dimia perhaps?) that ballooned out when they turned.

The rendition of Rumelaj by Zlatna Uste is addictive and has become very popular. However, before I started using that recording, I taught the dance Jeni Jol using a recording issued by Atanas Kolarovski of the tune "Cigansko Povrateno." It's also a great piece of music. It has more recently been recorded by Ziyia on their Travels with Karagiozis CD under the name "Yiftikos."

I'm not sure whether Atanas taught the dance Jeni Jol to Cigansko Povrateno. I did what Steve Kotansky did – found a recording that worked and used it. Someone will have to get the ethnic police after people like us. :-)

–Joan Friedberg


I wanted to contribute some information from my Macedonian fieldwork regarding some recent threads and queries that have been raised on the East European Folklife Center (EEFC) list. I worked in Macedonia with Roma and urban čalgija bands, and at the Skopje radio in the period of "Former" ("bifše") Jugoslavia 1985-1987, and during a short visit in 1989, and this information comes from talking to musicians involved in these traditions.

The issue of what is Jeni jol is an interesting story of mix-ups and also local creative innovation. In fact, the "original" Jeni Jol dance music (if you were to ask older musicians who were gigging in the 1960s and 1970s) is actually of a "širto" (pronounced in Macedonian, shirto) type, as recorded on another one of Pece recordings in makam nihavent. This is an Ottoman urban-style širto in 4/4, not exactly like the Greek folk syrto (which was, however, the source for the Ottoman urban širto genre). According to older čalgija musicians, it was a "new tune" and a new dance style which emerged at that time and was very popular among Roma at weddings. When I worked on Elsie Dunin's field recordings from that period, I found she had recorded several versions of this which were current at the time. So it was indeed a hot little number. From my memory of this dance (which wasn't done much anymore by the time I was doing field work) it was more like the Ḱuperlika step but done moving around the circle. If you were to ask čalgija musicians to play Jeni Jol, they would play this piece, not the ciftetelli piece on the Folkraft recording. According to these čalgaci, it was called "Jeni Jol" (which they translated as "new way" or "new style," literally "new path" from Turkish) because it was a popular new dance step and way of dancing.

The "Jeni Jol" which is on one of the Folkraft recordings is actually mislabled, or, labeled as such because of the dance that Pece and others at the time wanted to teach from this recording. I found the original recording which the Folkraft version had pressed when combing the Skopje radio archives. The recording is actually a çiftetelli (a particularily wonderful performance, in fact) recorded by the Skopje radio in the mid-1960s and labelled as "çiftetelli." The violinist is Bekir Hadzi-Kune, a wonderful master violinist from a Turkish-speaking Roma musician family. There are few recordings of him, so this one is very special, as it shows off the kind of improvisatory style and tone quality of the older generation of čalgija violinists. The dance to this is the Ḱuperlika step, moving backwards from the circle, as the step you know as the line version of Čoček, or "Pravo" in Macedonian ("duš" or "dizi" in Romanes). One interesting tidbit: I talked about this piece with Pece and the čalgija musicians who had been present on this recording, and Pece talked about how they didn't have the wooden spoons that they wanted, so they used part of a chair to get that wooden clicking sound. Resources at the radio were very limited at the time.

In response to another query, Jeni Jol was a Skopje-based folklore group (KUD) made up of ethnic Turks and Torbesi (Muslim Slavs). A few of the members that I met back at the time were Turkified Albanians (i.e., Albanians who had adopted Turkish as their primary language and claim "Ottoman" origins). The repertoire that they emphasized was Muslim urban music and dance; they had a very fine čalgija that performed Turkish music. The members of the KUD spoke Turkish during rehearsals. I don't know if the dance Jeni Jol was specifically composed for this group. Given the popularity of the dance at the time, it's more likely that it was a common Muslim (perhaps Roma) dance that was then brought into the KUD for folkloric treatment.

"Čaje Šukarije" is credited to Esma Redžepova and Stevo Teodosievski, but again, there are other layers to this story. The music (and perhaps song words) was most likely composed by Medo Čun, who is a Roma clarinetist still performing and composing in Skopje. When Esma and Stevo began, they worked extensively with Medo, who is from a clarinet-playing family. I worked with his brother, Muamet, who was the clarinetist at the Skopje Radio, and I heard this story from Medo. Medo was playing weddings in the 1960s when he, Stevo, and Esma formed a trio. Medo brought Esma into his wedding gigs and composed Čaje Šukarije for her, which made her a hit in the wedding circuit among Skopje Roma, and they then recorded it as a 45 rpm record. In this case, I think it is fairly likely that this was indeed Medo's tune: if you listen to the instrumental interlude, it is very similar to the Kosovo Roma čote style of melody (Medo's family was originally from Mitrovica, and he and his brothers often drew from this Kosovar Roma repertoire in their compositions and improvisational styles); Medo is still in great demand as a composer for "gadzi" (non-Roma) as well as Roma artists and has a large number of (credited) songs under his name for compostion and arrangements. By the way, Medo is the clarinetist on the original Čaje Šukarije recording. Although his name doesn't appear on these early recordings, I think it is important to give credit, or, at least "voice" to the work that these often un-"sung" čalgaci contributed.

I realize that attributing and claiming composition rights is a dicey business in the Balkans, and it is often difficult to sort out "who did what" on any given recording. There is often an ethical blurring between the communal compositional process, claiming pieces are "traditional" in the studio to avoid government censorship, and actual individual compositional vs. traditional transmission processes (something that is supposedly clear-cut in the West). The converse can also be true: among the Roma wedding and recording bands that I worked with in Turkey, individuals sometimes claimed traditional pieces as their personal compositions, even though it could be traced to historical use by local communities and registered in the Turkish state radio archives! Or, one person claimed a compostion as his after a lengthy communal creation process. Often the person who was able to claim compositional rights is the one who was the group leader and held the primary working relationship with the studio and recording company. As one Edirne Roma musician said to me when I was trying to track down who had composed which Deli Selim piece and a fight had erupted about one particular song, "Hey, we compose by stealing!"

One final anecdote on the fludity of compostional and attributional processes among professional musicians: I did some work with a group of young musicians who were playing with Ferus Mustafov (before he became world-famous, and before they became popular Yugo newlycomposed song artists) and recorded them at a nightclub in Skopje. At one point, the accordionist led the band into a rip roaring version of "Hava Nagila." I was tickled and asked the accordionist where he had learned this piece.

"Did you like it? It's MY composition." I laughed, "Come on, that's my folklore you are playing; that's a traditional Jewish piece." "Oh", he said, for a moment crest-fallen. Then he brightened up. "Are there any more phrases?" he asked hopefully.

–Sonia Tamar Seeman


Sonia,

I am quite interested in your comments, but have a couple of questions to help me relate them to other information. I am trying to figure out some of the time frame you are talking about.

> I worked in Macedonia with Roma and urban čalgija bands, and at the Skopje radio in the period of "Former" ("bifše") Jugoslavia 1985-1987, and during a short visit in 1989, and this information comes from talking to musicians involved in these traditions. The issue of what is Jeni jol is an interesting story of mix-ups and also local creative innovation.

Were these older musicians who had been involved with KUD Jeni Jol and/or Tanec back in the late 1940s or were they talking about what they knew of all of this second-hand? Were they talking about the dance too or only the history of the music from the 60's on the Folkraft record.

> is actually of a "širto" (pronounced in Macedonian, shirto) type, as recorded on another one of Pece recordings in makam nihavent. This is an Ottoman urban-style širto in 4/4, not exactly like the Greek folk syrto (which was, however, the source for the Ottoman urban širto genre).

This of interest. I know that some "širtos" from southwest Bulgaria have been taught by various instructors. (I haven't kept up, am less interested in choreography, and have always felt more for Macedonian than Bulgarian music and dance, but what is a "širto" type to you? or Ottoman sirto? – references or dances I should refer to?)

> According to older čalgija musicians, it was a "new tune" and a new dance style which emerged at that time and was very popular among Roma at weddings. When I worked on Elsie Dunin's field recordings from that period, I found she had recorded several versions of this which were current at the time. So it was indeed a hot little number. From my memory of this dance which wasn't done much anymore by the time I was doing field work it was more like the Ḱuperlika step but done moving around the circle. If you were to ask čalgija musicians to play Jeni Jol, they would play this piece, not the çiftetelli piece on the Folkraft recording. According to these čalgaci, it was called "Jeni Jol" (which they translated as new way or new style, literally "new path" from Turkish) because it was a popular new dance step and way of dancing.

Which piece did they play instead of the Folkraft çiftetelli – one which Elsie collected? Is it the same as the one later issued by Pece or yet some other one? What time period are you refering to here? Late 1940s, or late 1950s when Elsie was in Tanec or into the 1960s when she was actively researching? According to Elsie's recent book, the dance was being done by the Jeni Jol KUD in late 1940s and introduced to Tanec by members of that KUD at that time. So it was not new in the 1960s – and is still done into late 1980s. Let me quote the passage from Elsie again. With respect to the background, Elsie Dunin writes:

"...first generation (Tanec) female dancers remember performing the dance during the earliest years. It was introduced by members of the Turkish KUD Jeni Jol group and accompanied by čalgija orchestra who were accepted into Tanec, 1950. The early Turkish repertoire in the Tanec programs was discontinued when the ensemble was scaled down in size (from over ninety to about fifty members) and the repertoire began to focus on Macedonian material. However the dance Jeni Jol (which means 'new life') is still performed by the Skopje-based KUD Jeni Jol in 1988. It appears that the dance acquired it name from the name of the KUD. Furthermore, the same step pattern (no name) is currently danced at spontaneous dance events by the Rom population in Skopje."

In Dances of Macedonia: Performance Genre - Tanec Ensemble. Dunin and Višinski. Skopje, 1995.

> The "Jeni Jol" which is on one of the Folkraft recordings is actually mislabled, or, labeled as such because of the dance that Pece and others at the time wanted to teach from this recording.

I believe that Pece was not really actively teaching at that point – except in Macedonia with various KUDs and working with Firfov to help prepare "village groups" for "izvorne" presentations. He made his first teaching tour to the United States in 1971 or 1972 (for which I prepared the notes). The booklets accompanying the Folkraft records give credit for those notes (and the redordings?) to Rickey Holden, Dennis Boxell, Atanas Kolarovski, and Walter Swets (the Belgian or Dutch ethnomusicologist). I found the original recording which the Folkraft version had pressed when combing the Skopje radio archives. The recording is actually a çiftetelli (a particularily wonderful performance, in fact recorded by the Skopje radio in the mid-1960s and labelled as "çiftetelli"). The violinist is Bekir Hadzi-Kune, a wonderful master violinist from a Turkish-speaking Roma musician family. There are few recordings of him, so this one is very special, as it shows off the kind of improvisatory style and tone quality of the older generation of calgija violinists. . . . I talked about this piece with Pece and the čalgija musicians who had been present on this recording, and Pece talked about how they didn't have the wooden spoons that they wanted, so they used part of a chair to get that wooden clicking sound. Resources at the radio were very limited at the time.

> The info on that music is really interesting – it is the slowest version that I know of and is truly lovely. Pece had a different recording of Jeni Jol on his own record (to which he taught the dance in the early 1980s) which has both violin and clarinet in the čalgija – probably Tale's group? – and has more clearly defined structure – AA'A"BCC'taksimAA'A"(fade). I also have recordings I made at performances by Jeni Jol and Pralipe (the Rom KUD) in 1967. The Jeni Jol group perform the dance to zurle and tûpan – melodies are similar to one another and somewhat closer to the one on Pece's record than the Folkraft version. My film shows it basically as Elsie describes it. The Pralipe group performed it to čalgija – can't find my film to verify that it is Jeni Jol and how they did it. Music also appears in Elsie's book – notated by Djordji Dimčeski – two basic melodies each 16 measures of 2/4 with AA' form. (I can't read music and hear it – need an instrument to play it on – so I'm not sure which, if any of the above, this is).

As to the dance itself:

> According to older čalgija musicians, it was a "new tune" and a new dance style which emerged at that time and was very popular among Roma at weddings. From my memory of this dance which wasn't done much anymore by the time I was doing field work it was more like the Ḱuperlika step but done moving around the circle ("new path" from Turkish) because it was a popular new dance step and way of dancing. The dance to this (the ciftetelli?) is the Ḱuperlika step, moving backwards from the circle, as the step you know as the line version of Čoček, or "pravo" in Macedonian ("duš" or "dizi" in Romanes).

Again, it seems to have existed (at least for stage purposes) from the late 1940s at least (Elsie lists one Tanec performance in 1951), but I agree that structurally it is essentially the same as Ḱupurlika and could be nothing more than one variant of the dance or one way of doing it which became "named" and separated out for performance purposes. This might be supported by the fact that Elsie suggests that the dance may have been named for the group, not the other way around. Also, the choreographic tricks used seem to be somewhat the same for both dances.

> In response to another query, Jeni Jol was a Skopje-based folklore group (KUD) made up of ethnic Turks and Torbesi (Muslim Slavs). A few of the members that I met back at the time were Turkified Albanians (i.e., Albanians who had adopted Turkish as their primary language and claim "Ottoman" origins). The repertoire that they emphasized was Muslim urban music and dance; they had a very fine čalgija that performed Turkish music. The members of the KUD spoke Turkish during rehearsals. Just for general info about the Skopje-based KUDs which were focused on minorities.

When I was recording their performances in late June 1967 (33 years ago!) there was one focused on Albanianbs – Emin Duraka – and one for Roma – Pralipe. For those interested in the history of Macedonian dances, dance groups, dance teachers (there) and the development and diffusion of the Tanec material, try to get a copy of Elsie Dunin's book which I will cite again:

Dances of Macedonia: Performance Genre – Tanec Ensemble. Dunin and Višinski. Skopje, 1995.

I was actually able to purchase a copy from Elsie the last time she was in the country.

Bob Leibman


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