DOBRUJA, (Purple) DOBROGEA, (Pink)
“Land of Dobrotitsa” a 14th century Bulgarian ruler.
About 60 miles before it reaches the Black Sea, the Danube River runs into a 1000 foot-high plateau, makes a sharp turn north, runs about 100 miles, then makes another sharp turn east to run into the Black Sea. This obstructing plateau is called Dobruja in Bulgaria, Dobrogea in Romania. The weather is mild, windy, dry – acceptable farmland. Remains of human activity date back over 22,000 years.
The earliest inhabitants of whom we have records were a Thracian tribe, the Getians, whom the Greeks started trading with around 800 BCE. About the same time Scythians (a tribe of Persian origin living in southern Russia) began settling/raiding from the north. Dobrudja has been a meeting/battle-ground ever since. Macedonians, Romans/Byzantines, Bulgars & Pechenegs (Turkic), Slavs, Avars (Hungarian), all had their turn until relative stability was established under the Ottoman Turks, 1417-1878. By this time the land was populated by a crazy-quilt of Romanian, Bulgarian, Turk, Tatar, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Greek & Roma peoples.
The defeat of the Turks resulted in the creation of Romania & Bulgaria, who divided Dobruja between them & squabbled over boundaries and peoples 70 more years.
In Bulgaria, “Dobrujans dance with their knees always bent and their backs hollow. They all seem to be of short stature and solid. To get the feel of Dobrujan dancing stand with your feet apart and bend your knees as far as you can comfortably with your feet flat on the floor, push your ribs forward while keeping your back straight and stay there throughout the dance!”*
Popular dances include Ruka, Sborenka, Opas & Danets.
In Romania, Dobrogean dances are distinguished by rhythm – the so-called ‘Aksak” or Turkish rhythms. The most popular dances are Geamparele, (7/16, similar to Bulgarian Racenica), and Cadâneasca, (9/8, similar to Bulgarian Dajcovo).