LIČKO KOLO (LEECH-koh KOH-loh) Croatia
Croatia is a very diverse country geographically. On the Adriatic coast, known as Dalmatia (yes, the Dalmatian dog is from there), its the land of sunny, dry islands (backed by steep mountains) with an Italian flavour, having been ruled for centuries from Venice. Croatia’s northern inland is a fertile plain, Slavonia, ruled for centuries and strongly influenced by Hungary (in fact, it WAS Hungary until 1918).
Dividing the two regions are the Dinaric Alps, a mountain chain stretching from Italy through Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Montenegro into Albania.
The Dinaric region has a unique dance culture that spans the Slavic countries. Called Nijemo or ‘Silent’ Kolo, the dances are anything but silent, but they do lack instrumental accompaniment. Dancers sing songs, or sometimes don’t sing, but keep time with the sound of their feet on the ground, or the jingling of metal costume jewelry (often dowery coins). Each region has its own name for this type of dance – Glamoc & Trusa in Bosnia, Zetsko in Montenegro, Ličko & Po Naski in Croatia.
All this may seem a mite confusing to newcomers, but the fact is there is no single dance called Ličko Kolo. There is a category of dances, sometimes called Nijemo or “Silent” Kolo. Ličko Kolo refers to “Silent”-type dances from the Lika region of Croatia, an example of which I’m calling Ličko Kolo.
This link gives a general overview of the genre.
The dance shown at 5:15 minutes in is closest to the Ličko Kolo we do.
Here’s a couple of examples from a movie made in 1948 – when the genre was still very much alive.
The Nijemo dance best-known among North American folk dancers was introduced by Dick Crum in 1957. He called it Ličko Kolo, after the Lika region of Croatia.
This Ličko Kolo is very simple – 3 steps forward, one step back, while singing a song.
Here’s the dance as done in North America.
I’m indebted to Karia Leschke for teaching this version to me.
The song he used to accompany the dance is Pjevaj Mi Pjevaj. Although that song is still popular in Croatia today, I could find no current instances of its use accompanying a Nijemo Kolo. I’ve attached an example of the song. Lead singer is Dobrivoje Pavlica.
There are many YouTubes of Licko Kolo’s using other songs. Most are performed before an audience in costume by local performing groups, but here are a couple of more informal examples.