Another wedding dance! This one is from the magic Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria, a few miles from Greece. After Bulgaria won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Muslims in the country (mostly Slavs who were forced to convert) were treated harshly and many fled to the relative isolation of the Rhodopes. Many still live there. They’re called Pomaks, a term (like Gypsy or Black) some find derogatory.
Minka, is a variant of the woman’s name Maria. Beware, there are many Slavic songs with different melodies and countries of origin with the title Minka!
Meanwhile, back in Bulgaria, at the bride’s home the bride’s female friends dance in a circle while the bride stands in the middle. They sing the folk song Minka, (which has many sets of lyrics) while doing a simple step pattern, slow, quick, quick, a kind of reverse Racenica.
The song has a plaintive melody (most bride songs are about the loss of something); this one is about the bride mourning the loss of her herb garden, especially her basil plants. She’ll have to leave it to move in with her husband’s family.
Here’s a vocal by the Koushlev Sisters. The melody we use starts about 50 seconds in.
Here’s a more contemporary take –
The dance performed to this music was originally described by Boris Vulkov in the book Sbornik Bulgarski Folklorni Hora (p. 194, Sofia: Komitet za Izkustvo i Kultura Institut za Hudozhestvena Samodenyost 1970); and also by Boris Vûglarov in Bûlgarski narodni hora i tantsi (Sofiya:Meditsina i Fizkultura, 1976). I can find no YouTubes of the dance performed in Bulgaria.
In 1981 Yves Moreau brought his version of the dance to North America, using an instrumental-only recording.
A CD of this music and also a DVD of Yves demonstrating this and 19 other Bulgarian dances can be purchased from Yves directly by clicking the following link:
A distinctive feature of Minka is the women’s hand movements. The YouTube below does a pretty good job of demonstrating the basic hand movements, starting around the 50 second mark, although Yves’ DVD is definitive.
Other versions of Minka have been taught by Jaap Leegwater and Nina Kavardijkova.