Welcome!

This is a site for Folk Dancers.  I suspect you’re already enjoying this wonderful activity.  I’m here to provide context for your dances. What does it mean to be Macedonian, and how does that differ from being Greek, Bulgarian, Roma, or Serbian? How did a particular dance come about – is it a “village” dance, or someone’s creation?  What is the relationship between the dance and its music – which is accompanying which?  What was the occasion for this dance – a wedding, religious festival, pagan rite, performance?  What do the costumes tell about the person wearing them?  Have the dances changed over time and location?  How did peasants celebrate the agricultural cycle, and do they still?

I enjoy researching the milieu that produced the dances of Southeast Europe, Anatolia, and the Levant, and I like sharing what I’ve discovered.   At first glance one would think that Greece, Romania, Armenia and Syria wouldn’t have much in common, but in fact they share millennia of common cultural influences.

As far as the dances themselves are concerned my main interest is, what’s going on today in the place of origin?  I watch You Tubes of weddings, festivals, etc to see what the “natives” are dancing, and if they are the same dances we “outsiders” were taught that they danced.  Often I find that we and they dance differently, so I post You Tubes of what they are up to.

Browse the INDEX for subjects that interest you.   New material will be added weekly, and existing material is often updated.  If you would like email notifications whenever new material is posted, become a follower.  Simply fill in your email address below and click the “follow” button.  You won’t miss updates!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

I dedicate this website to Ron Houston, of the Society of Folk Dance Historians,

http://www.socalfolkdance.org/master_teachers/houston_r.htm

for his invaluable information, enthusiasm, and support throughout the years.  He is the driving force behind the Folk Dance Problem Solvers* so often referred to in my postings. The encouragement is his, the opinions and errors are mine. Also to Dale Adamson, she of the boundless energy, Lyrids festival, and gazillion YouTube posts, for suggesting I do this website.  And to Susanjane Hamilton, my dance partner of 35+ years, for inspiration, support, valuable advice, and for indulging my eccentricities.

I look forward to your questions or comments (below or email me at dondancing@gmail.com).  However I will not reply unless you leave your name and email address.

Don Buskirk

*The Problem Solvers are issued yearly with a membership in the Society.  Back issues (31 and counting!) are available to members.  Contact the Society via email at:   SFDHist@gmail.com

The Society also has, thanks to a huge effort by Dick Oakes, a website chock-a-block with information.  See http://sfdh.us/encyclopedia.html

33 thoughts on “Welcome!

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  1. Theodor Vasilescu told me that A lu Nelu is the name of the dance style and it refers to a person, Nelu’s dance. Not a hazelnut. He has taught alulenul dances from various communities. Such as Alunelul De La Izbiceni. You can see it on the Dunav site.

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  2. Don, your site is a fantastic resource! Thank you so much for sharing your research and thoughts: it’s opened my eyes to aspects of folk dancing that I had never considered before. Maybe see you at Lyrids some year?

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  3. Don.
    I just found your Folkdance Footnotes website. Absolutely beautiful! Clear, easy to read and navigate, with lovely photos, fonts, and of course, the great histories, explanations, and organized information. Plus excellent organization and .layout. What a source and resource you have created. Thank you so much! I’ll pass the word around. Everyone in the folk dance community, and beyond, should know this.
    Lots of luck,
    Jim Gold

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      1. Don,
        Aha, now I get it. “dondancing” is you. Right?
        Yes, this website is a great service. I can see that so much time and effort went into it. Is this a full time job? How long did it take to put together?
        Also where are you located?

        Glad some of your friends liked our tours.\Best,
        Jim

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      2. I live on Gabriola Island, near Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. I started the website a little over a year ago, spend 2-3 days a week on it, and I enjoy every minute!

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  4. Just happened on your website as I was looking for some things online. So, I am curious as to where you are located and do I know you. Somewhere in here I think I saw it as Don Buskirk? Since I have been at this for about 20 years more than you, I suspect I may have met you at some time. I live in Austin and have met with Ron a few times over the years.

    I was caught by the title of your blog Lesnoto is not a Macedonian Dance and by now have seen a little bit more – taproot dance, and your T4, T6, etc. I need to look at it a bit more closely. I have a structural approach to describing many families of Balkan dances based on the number of weight shifts in each of the dance measures in the dance.

    But on Lesnoto, it is true that several alternative names you mentioned might be used for the dance, although probably most frequently people will ask for a particular song to which they want to dance. Note that the “taproot dance” may appear in both 7/8 and 2/4 (and other meters) – though Lesnoto in particular might more usually refer to the 7/8 variant (more on this later). As you mention Dick Crum’s comment, Lesnoto – with the Serbian linguistic equivalent, Lako kolo, in parentheses – is #13 in the Janković sisters’ Narodne Igre v.1, published 1934. Interestingly it appears as one of six dances which they see as all being the same, all from Mijak villages.The dances are #10 Tropnalo oro, #11 Sadilo mome, #12 Janinke, #13 Lesnoto, #14 Popat hodi, konja vodi, #15 Gu, gu, Galeno bre. In fact, they say “the following are all danced the same way as also many other South Serbian dances.” (At that time Macedonia was South Serbia)

    Now, Tropnalo and Sadilo as we learned them in the 60s are 12 measure dances similar to Potrčulka, still done in eastern Macedonia. But a given tune is sometimes used for dancing another dance in the same meter.

    Also of interest is that they recognize dance structure as being danceable in different meters – i.e. the above dance
    are not all in the same meter. Tropnalo, Lesnoto, Gu,gu are said to be in 3/4 and Sadilo in 3/8, Janinke and Popat hodi are in 2/4. Meters other than 2/4 were often described incorrectly (by current norms which were established a bit later than late 30s) So the 3/4 was likely 7/8, the 3/8 was likely 7/16). They do comment on the 3/4 vs 2/4 in that
    beats 12 3 in 3/4 corresponds to 1 2 in 2/4.

    Tropnalo oro is the only one they describe beat by beat, rhe others being essentially “see Tropnalo,”

    They have a note after Tropnalo “This kolo is danced in winter on festive days. It is a mixed, men and women’s kolo. The dancers hold each other by the underarm (they hold the edge of the armhole in their neighbors’ vest (- arms crossed as in belt hold, but higher). The leader will let go of his neighbor from time to time and perform a turn to right (CW) in place.

    After Janinke, they say “They dance and sing this as the first dance – as a call to dance.”.

    Now they also list Lesnoto as #7 in their volume 4, published in 1948, fourteen years later than v. 1. This is the section of volume 4 which is devoted to dances of the Mijaks (Mijaci). They do not do another desciption of the basic dance, but they add the following note:
    “The variant which we describe here differs from the previous to the extent that figures in which all dancers turn together, and figures of squatting, are inserted in the course of dancing at a signal by the leader. If all of the dancers are to make a circular turn to the right, the leader will make a quick,wide movement of his right hand (and the large red kerchief in it) about himself from left to right, to call for squatting, the leader will make a sharp downward move with his right hand. This way of performing these are new, however, it has a basis in the figures of individual turning and squatting of a dancer in the kolo according to his momentary feeling / this is the old way.”

    It should be noted that they published the music for the Lesnoto in v.1, 1934, in a supplemental collection Melodies of Folk Dances, published in 1937. A second melody appears in v. 4 where music for all of the dances in that volume appear at the back. (Just to suggest that there are specific melodies associated with the dance as well as all of the other melodies to which one might do a dance of that type.

    Vladimir Janevski, in Etnokoreološki Karakteristički na Makedonskite Narodni Ora (Po Izbrani Primeri).
    says that according to Jovan Hadživasiljević in Kumanovska oblast, Južna stara Srbija, Beograd 1909 pp 393/397, among dances he lists for the Skopje area are Krstatno, Ramno or Lesno and Teško, Prao (Pravo), Povračano, Vraćano, Kl’ckano, Lisa, and Postupano. Note the 4 that refer to same basic structure. Janevski himself, uses Lesnoto as a “type” which is really its primary use these days. For example, Mihajlo Dimovski, a young ethnorchoreologist in the early 70s has an article in Makedonski folklor #11, 1973, in which he discusses “variants of the oro and oro/related songs of the type ‘Lesnoto’ in Struga and the Struga area.

    Your blog really got me going, but it also relates to a relatively recent discovery (to me). I spent much time in former Yugoslavia and Macedonia specifically from 1965-1973 and was dancing here in the states from 1963 to the present, but it was only since 2002 since I began spending time in the Balkans again that I became aware of how 2/4 Lesno tunes and 7/8 Lesno tunes are dealt with in Pirin and Aegean Macedonia. Tunes in 2/4 are generally danced the same way in Bulgaria and Greece, i.e. Pravo, Za rame, etc,, but those in 7/8 are danced as Shirto in Pirin and Syrtos in Northern Greece. These are 4 measure dances, rather than 3 measure, totally different structures.

    One last comment, I just looked a bit more at your taproot and the related dances in which I think Tx uses total weight shifts as x. (Maybe I am wrong). But if you look at all of the dancers doing a Lesno, depending on how much variation exists in a particular area – greater homogeneity in the dancing in some areas than others – in addition to several variations based on S S S _ S _ where _ is a lift, touch, etc, but non- weight/shift, there are often dancers who do additional weight shifts in those blank areas – S S SQQ SQQ or S S QQS QQS, etc. So if you look at the number of weight shifts in each dance measure you see

    S S S _ S _ 211 but also S S SQQ SQQ 2 3 3 or even QQQQ SQQ SQQ 4 3 3, now look at parity (even or odd) and you see they are all Even Odd Odd or 011. I think this better reflects the greater number of possibilities. Note that this also includes basic Devetoriks. QQQS QQQ(S) QQQ(S) where the (S) are a touch, but no weight shift, or two very quick steps, 2 weight shifts. So 4 3 3 or 4 5 5, even odd odd 011.

    I like what you were doing in showing relationships between various families, more by addition and subtraction, but I think you might find looking at parity of weight shifts per dance measure rather than simply the number of weight shifts per total dance phrase may offer more.

    Glad I found your site and do let me know whether we know each other from some place or other.

    Hope that I have put my reply in the correct place.

    Bob Leibman

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    1. Hi Bob
      Thanks for these informed and detailed comments. No, we haven’t met, (I’ve spent all of my folkdance life in the fringes of the Vancouver, Canada area) but I certainly know of you, have seen a brief introduction to your dance notation system, and have one of your record albums. My knowledge and experience are nowhere close to yours, so I’ll accept your comments based on your reputation. I agree my presentation is overly simplistic. My aim is not to be definitive so much as provide a broad general introduction, with emphasis on what’s happening today. I’m going to add your comments to the end of my ‘Lesnoto’ posting, and to the Taproot varities posting. Don

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  5. Like many of your subscribers, I have been folk dancing for many years (in my case since 1965), so I am delighted to find a site that expresses loving, but critical, observations on the whole ethnochoreology scene. Bet to you in the New Year.

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  6. Buon Anno, Don! and thank you for your work! RH sent me your way in his latest Report To Members.

    Is there a way to add comments to individual pages? For example, I would suggest “Su Passu Torrau” as a slightly more “western” example of “The Taproot Dance – T-6”

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    1. Ciao Maurizio
      Thanks for the comment and YouTube. Su Passu Torrau looks like a T-6 to me. My knowledge of European dance outside of the Balkans is limited (it isn’t much better inside), but I know the T-6 exists in Brittany and likely many other “western” places. It seems the website template I’m using doesn’t allow for comments on individual pages, but you have it published here!
      Don

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  7. Hi Don!
    Just finished designing and creating Ron Houston’s Society of Folk Dance Historians website (4 months, 10 a day, 7 days a week!). He asked folks to leave a note to you, so that’s what I’m doing. Your site is really well done (what tool do you use?). I only hand-code in HTML5, so no fancy stuff. Keep up the great work for all folk dancing.
    Cheers,
    Dick Oakes

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  8. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing
    your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your
    rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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  9. Hi, Don! Interesting post on Sadi Moma. Years ago, I had written a post about it and was surprised to find out a software geek had used the melody and put words to it. Math, science and computer people are really into folk dancing for some strange reason 🙂 As for Bufcansko, I noticed the same thing you did, that it is very popular with children’s groups in Northern Macedonia.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I discovered and appreciated your blog a couple of years ago – it helped form a model for my own. You’ve inspired me to update my Gerakina music postings (now there are 3). See Gerakina under MUSIC>LYRICS>ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS for the 4 more direct translations I sourced to create my own. For more detailed information on the origins of both the song and the dance, Ron Houston’s Folk Dance Problem Solver for 2007 has the definitive research.

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      1. Hi, Don! Glad to hear my blog was an inspiration for you. Back in 2010 there were no folk dance blogs on the Internet, so my purpose was to fill a void. Eight years later I’m still going at it, but not posting as much because I have carpal tunnel in both hands. Check back periodically, when my hands aren’t hurting I’ll write a post or two. I see you are in the Hawaiian islands. I don’t know how far you are from the volcano, so stay safe and Happy Dancing

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  10. Hello!

    I have been reading your posts and comparing them to what I’ve written in my blog about Balkan folk dances.

    Check out my post on Bregovsko Horo. It is similar in structure to the Cacak Horo. Our group calls it the “one figure cacak.” It sounds more Serbian than Bulgarian!
    http://katleyplanetbg.blogspot.com/2018/01/variations-on-bulgarian-folk-dance.html

    Also liked your notes on Gerakina, a dance I had recently written about. I went crazy looking for a translation for the lyrics. All I knew was that it was about a girl who had fallen into a well.

    Thanks for sharing all this wonderful infohttp://katleyplanetbg.blogspot.com/2018/01/variations-on-bulgarian-folk-dance.htmlhttps://katleyplanetbg.blogspot.com/ on folk dances.

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  11. Oh no! Someone just pointed me to this site, and now I’m going to have to spend ages looking at all the info! 🙂 Looks very interesting, including information not readily accessible to me elsewhere. My experience of International Folk Dance in the UK is that we are often taught the region that a dance comes from, and the style; but not so much about a dance’s history, or how traditional the dance may be – or whether it was choreographed for the folk dance market.

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  12. Congratulations.

    You’re an amazing historian and an easy teacher to follow. That you are so willing, with such joy, to share your love of folk dancing and folk lore, is all of our gain.

    Hope you do a write-up regarding the launch for the Northwest Folkdancers Inc. magazine nwfolkdancers@gmail.com

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  13. So glad you are sharing on a wider stage Don. You have certainly provided Kauai with lots of opportunity to enjoy more of the dances, history, language and cultures of the world. Thank you and Susanjane for your wonderful contributions to making our world a more loving place.

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