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Information: Dances.

Translation: From the verb "kopni" (to dig).

Pronunciation: KOH-pahch-kah

Region: Macedonia



Dimna Juda
/// Dimna Juda, mamo, grad gradila, ///
/ Na planina, mamo, na Vlaina. /
/ Što je kolje, mamo, pobivala.
Se ergeni, mamo, za glavenje, /
Se ergeni, mamo, za glavenje.
/ Što je praḱe, mamo, zapliḱala.
Se devojki, mamo, za mažene, /
Se devojki, mamo, za mažene.
      Dimna Juda
        Evil wood nymph
Dimna Juda built a city
On the mountain, on Vlaina.
The posts she drove.
Were all youths ready to be engaged,
Were all youths ready to be engaged.
The wands she plaited.
Were all maidens ready for marriage,
Were all maidens ready for marriage.

Derviško, Viško Mome,
// Derviško, viško, mome, derviško dušo, //
Derviško, viško, mome, derviško duš'
/ Rob ḱe ti vidam, mome, rob ḱe ti bidam, /
/ Rob ḱe ti bidam, mome, vreme tri godini, /
Rob ḱe ti bidam, mome, vreme tri godin'.
Samo da ti vidam, mome, samo da ti vidam,
Samo da ti vidam, mome, beloto liko,
Samo da ti vidam, mome, beloto lik'.
I da go vidiš, ludo, i da go vidiš,
I da go vidiš, ludo, fajda si nema,
I da go vidiš, ludo, fajda si nem'.
      Derviško, Viško Mome
        Derviška, girl.
Derviška, girl, Derviška my darling.

I will be your slave, girl, I will be your slave,
I will be your slave, girl, for three years.

Just so I can see, girl, just so I can see,
Just so I can see, girl, your fair face.

Even if you see it, fellow, even if you see it,
Even if you see it, fellow, it'll do you no good.


In their book "Ensemble Tanec – Dances of Macedonia" (Skopje 1995), Elsie Ivančić-Dunin and Stanimir Višinski explain the origins of dances in the Tanec Ensemble repertoire. On page 180, they state that Kopačka is from the Delčevo area and was taught by Stojče Zahariev and Nikola Arsov, village dancers from that area. They state that in the early performances of Tanec, the medley: Dimna Juda and Kopačka (using the song Dereviško, viško mome) was done to the accompaniement of a ćemane (three stringed-fiddle) and later to gajda and tâpan. Đorđi Dimčevski in his book "Vie se oro Makedonsko" (Skopje 1983) talks about the medley Dimna Juda and Kopačka and says that it was traditionally played by a "gadulka" (gusle) and that the dance was from the "Maleševsko" area. Dimčevski, a composer and arranger was musical director of Tanec for many years and made many arrangements of dance repertoire in a more contemporary style using accordion, violin, guitar, bass, flute etc (a good example is the well-known Žensko Čamče introduced by Atanas Kolarovski and still danced in many recreational groups in North America.

Perhaps some of the most interesting background information on Kopačka is to be found in the book "Makedonski Narodni Ora" by Ganco Pajtondžiev (Skopje 1973) which presents traditional dances from Eastern Macedonia. The author describes over 100 dances including two versions of Kopačka and also Dimna Juda Mamo and Dereviško, viško mome (two versions). Dimna Juda and Dereviško are presented as two dances from the village of Vetren (Delčevo region) and the source is listed as Nikolačko Ilcov Arsov (which most likely is the same source as what Dunin and and Višinski refer to as teaching Kopačka to Tanec). Arsov was filmed by the folklore institute of Skopje in 1953. Interestingly the two Kopačkas described in the book are not from the same source or even immediate vicinity and seem quite different from the Tanec version. Dimna Juda is described in Pajtondziev's book as a mixed dance in 2/4 with an eight-measure pattern (which seems to resemble the version we know). The song text is very similar to the one we know but with a few extra verses. The two versions of "Dereviško, viško mome" are also in eight-measure patterns. The second version is described as a variation of the first with somewhat larger steps and more versatility. None of these versions, though, look anything like the fancy, fast and intricate Kopačkas. Did Arsov actually teach Tanec the tricky steps as well? Or was it Stojče Zahariev who is mentioned earlier by Dunin and Višinski who also mention that a Dragan Petruševski learned the step patterns, set the sequence and led the dance until 1957. Petruševski is also listed as a source in Pajtondziev's book for another danced called Berovska Šopska. Petruševski is from the village of Kozle (Skopje region). Pajtondziev even comments that this Berovka is not danced at all in Berovo. . . . The whole "medley" is obviously a composite piece. The fact remains that "Dimna Juda" and "Dereviško Mome" are real dance-songs and come from the same source. Dunin in her book also says that the dance Kopačka was done by Tanec as early as in 1951 (there is even a nice photo showing Tanec members performing Kopačka in Trieste, Italy in 1952). That was even before Arsov was filmed by the Folklore Institute. Would be nice to hear more other sources.

Yves Moreau

If this is the same song/dance, it's great to know what the lyrics to Dimna Juda Mome mean, as they reinforce the spirit (more or less) in which we in St. Louis do this dance – in short belt-hold lines that charge one another, whipping the ends around, and trying to cut one another off in order to cause massive collisions during the walking part. There are two or three members of our group – female, of course – who are particularly adept at leading such lines. Seems appropriate for an evil wood nymph. Are other dance groups as silly as ours? And if this isn't the same dance, then I'll just creep back into my corner.


I've always assumed that this a phonetic change that happens in Bulgarian village speech – "v" before "n" becomes "m" (ravna = ramna by the same token). Linguists: is this possibly what's going on? ("Divna juda" would mean something like 'a wild – sort of untamed – juda'.)


My sources confirm part of this: "dimna" would come from "divna" because of the common phonetic changes Martha mentioned. However, the meaning of the adjective "diven/divna/divno/divni" is "marvelous," "wonderful," or "wondrous" (also in the sense of being fantastic or strange). The word for "wild" is "div/diva/divo/divi".

The song is a variant on other Balkan ones (and similar ones from other regions/cultures) about the accommodating the power of nature by human sacrifice. The most common theme is walling up women or children or building them in to a construction (e.g., bridge, castle, etc.).

In the case of "Dimna Juda," the songs speaks of using young men and women to build part of a castle.

When the dance Kopačka was choreographed, "Dimna Juda" was put on the front as a slow part (presumably because of the related melody and the need for some slower warm up steps). The theme of Kopačka is agriculture and it is unconnected with "Dimna Juda."

I believe historically that neither song has anything to do with Kopačka as a village dance. In the Berovo-Delčevo area of Macedonia from where Kopačka comes, villagers have danced it just to tâpan accompaniment.

Ron Houston


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