According to the 1994 Folk Dance Problem Solver, Pece Atanasovski introduced a Macedonian dance he called Odeno Oro (OH-deh-noh OH-roh) “walking dance” to North Americans at the Buffalo Gap International Folk Dance Camp in 1987. Pece was a well-respected gajda player in Macedonia. To quote the the last.fm article on Pece, “From 1960 on, he was director of the “Orchestra of Folk Instruments of Radio-Televizia-Skopje.” This orchestra, a group of about a half-dozen musicians, which had never actually occurred among the “folk,” was at first begun in 1950 as a part of “Tanec” [emphasis mine, DB] under the direction of a professor of ethnomusicology, Dr. Živko Firfov, and often played on the radio in the 1950s. Working closely with Dr. Firfov, Pece established a standard for the Macedonian izvorni (traditional instruments) that became a trademark of radio progams and recordings, both as instrumental pieces and as backup for famous folk singers.” For the complete biography of Pece from last.fm https://www.last.fm/music/Pece+Atanasovski+Orchestra/+wiki/history see the bottom-most part of this posting.
ODENO ORO – the MUSIC
Odeno Oro seems to be a rare example of a dance tune not based on a song. Though called ‘Oro’ (dance), the few versions of the music I can find from North Macedonia are all instrumentals, all with gajda (bagpipe) lead, all based on the recording released by Pece’s Radio-Televizia-Skopje recording, with Pece as lead gajda player. I venture to guess that North Macedonians consider Odeno Oro to be a gajda tune.
Pece is a revered figure in North Macedonia, and Odeno Oro appears to be one of his more popular recordings. A seminar in his name is held annually in his home town of Dolneni (near Prilep), a feature of which seems to be reproducing Pece’s Odeno Oro recording.
For the sheet music to Odeno Oro, see https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/odeno-oro-sheet-music/
Several younger musicians have recorded modern versions of the music, including Fatzwerk, Elthin, Viesematente, Stefche Stojkovski and the National Instruments Ensemble, and Schelmish. Here’s their YouTube
Pece’s contribution to North Macedonian music is undeniable – taking what was often solo instrumental music and recreating it into izvoren; well-recorded multi-instrument arrangements for an ‘orchestra of folk instruments’. That’s the sound most of us recreational folk dancers loved to hear when learning North Macedonian dances.
ODENO ORO – the DANCE
I’ve searched North Macedonian YouTubes for people dancing Odeno Oro, but so far I’ve found NONE. I searched the internet for North Macedonian Dances currently performed in North Macedonia and came across 3 lists. The most extensive is https://whereismacedonia.org/macedonian-folk-dances/, which lists 45 dances. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Macedonian_dances lists 24, four of which are not on the first list. https://www.myguidemacedonia.com/travel-articles/traditional-macedonian-folk-dances lists 10, five of which are not on the first list. 54 dances in all, and none of them are called Odeno Oro. While this doesn’t prove that Odeno Oro is not a North Macedonian dance, it indicates to me that it’s either extinct or it’s not currently very popular in North Macedonia. No other teacher in North America has taught Odeno Oro except Pece, or those who learned from Pece.
In the 1994 Folk Dance Problem Solver article on Odeno Oro, Ron Houston noted the dance’s “slow-slow-quick-quick-slow” pattern is the same as other devojačko-style dances from Serbia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria. See https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/1st-generation-dances/childrens-dances-1st-generation-or-living/devojacko-kolo-%d0%b4%d0%b5%d0%b2%d0%be%d1%98%d0%b0%d1%87%d0%ba%d0%be-%d0%ba%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%be-serbian-childrens-dance/ He also notes for measure 2 “Perhaps through confusion with Šetnja, these 3 steps have become a travelling two-step in some locations around the country.” Ron also notes “Although the music does not increase markedly in tempo, early directions specify lowering of joined hands when the music becomes faster, as well as the addition of small hops during cts 2 and 4 of bars 1 and 3…“
Preliminary conclusion, later revised, and apology:
When I first posted this article, based on the lack of evidence that Odeno Oro was ever danced in North Macedonia, I wrote: To me, the jury is out about whether I should consider Odeno Oro a 1st Generation or 2nd Generation Macedonian dance. I’m going to lean toward 2nd G, meaning I suspected Pece had combined a North Macedonian melody with a pan-Balkan dance pattern and called it a North Macedonian dance. I appealed to the public for evidence to the contrary and immediately received an email from John Uhlemann: Larry Weiner taught the dance in St. Louis about 40 years ago. He taught it the way the videos go, but said he had seen it in a group of (I believe 3) Macedonian villages with measure 3 having the first two steps continue to the right, before finishing the dance in the usual way. The St. Louis group still does it that way, so that it does not get confused with Šetnja. Proof that at one time Odeno Oro was danced in Macedonia. My apologies to the memory and reputation of Pece Atanasovski. A two-disc set of DVD’s of Pece’s teachings, and a companion set of CD’s has been available from Yves Moreau, though I don’t see it on his current site: http://www.bourque-moreau.com/bali.html.
Odeno Oro is a 1st Generation dance, definitely North Macedonian, but there’s no evidence it’s a Living North Macedonian dance. However it’s alive among recreational folk dancers. Personally I love Pece’s recording of Odeno Oro, even if it isn’t representative of traditional ‘village’ music. It’s my favorite recording for the pan-Balkan S,S,Q,Q,S Devojačko pattern.
John Uhleman wrote: Actually, there are 2 danceable versions of Odeno Oro, the one by Pece Atanasovski, and the other (which I own) by the Pece Anatansovski ensemble, a group of his students organized after his death to play Macedonian music in the style he popularized (called “Izvorno” in the US, but more grammatically called “Izvoren”). The latter recording is in higher fidelity. The first recording was released as a cassette tape with artificially boosted treble so it would play better on low quality car cassette players in the presence of a a lot of road and wind noise. It was then pressed as an LP with the same problem. Anyway, Larry Weiner taught the dance in St. Louis about 40 years ago. He taught it the way the videos go, but said he had seen it in a group of (I believe 3) Macedonian villages with measure 3 having the first two steps continue to the right, before finishing the dance in the usual way. The St. Louis group still does it that way, so that it does not get confused with Šetnja. Your connections of this dance with similar step patterns all over the Balkans and into even northern Romania, is, of course, dead on.
Petre Vasilev “Pece” Atanasovski was born on October 25, 1927, in the village of Dolneni (near Prilep), Macedonia, the son of Vasile Ananasov Todorovski. (It was the tradition until World War II for a male child to have his second name his father’s, and his last name his grandfather’s. Thus Pece is “Petre, son of Vasile, son of Atanas.” Since the war, however, custom has changed and everyone in a family has the same last name. Pece grew up in Dolnani, in a household with nine other children, and lived there until 1944. As a child, he was a shepherd and attended school only through the fourth grade. After that, he would have had to go to Prilep to continue his schooling and his parents would have had to pay. Even so, he was probably more fortunate than many other boys his age, who never learned to read and write.
He began playing instruments at the age of 5 or 6. Many of the men in his family were good musicians on the gajde, kaval, or šupelka, and Pece learned to play all of these instruments, although at first he only played the surla (chanter) part of the gajda.From 1944 to 1947, Pece served in the army, then went to Skopje, where he worked as a salesman for a clothing factory. At this time, he also was able to complete his schooling through eighth grade and even begin study at a music high school.During this period, Pece was active as a dancer in various amateur ensembles around Skopje. He also led his own village’s group at various festivals in 1947. At the end of the War, there was a resurgence of national feeling. There were a number of festivals of village groups. Traditional costume was still worn and traditional dances and songs regularly performed in most Macedonian villages.
In 1950, Pece joined the then-forming state dance ensemble “Tanec” as well. He traveled throughout the world with the group, including a trip to the United States, and remained with the ensemble until 1959. From 1960 on, he was director of the “Orchestra of Folk Instruments of Radio-Televizia-Skopje.” This orchestra, a group of about a half-dozen musicians, which had never actually occurred among the “folk,” was at first begun in 1950 as a part of “Tanec” under the direction of a professor of ethnomusicology, Dr. Živko Firfov, and often played on the radio in the 1950s. Working closely with Dr. Firfov, Pece established a standard for the Macedonian izvorni (traditional instruments) that became a trademark of radio progams and recordings, both as instrumental pieces and as backup for famous folk singers. In addition to directing this orchestra, Pece was the artistic director of the amateur “Makedonija” Folk Ensemble and frequently traveled to Bitola, Prilep, and abroad as a paid consultant to local dance groups.
Pece also discovered and introduced many village singing groups who were recorded and heard on radio. Some of these were Bapčorki, the Kumanovsko Trio, Kvintet Temjanuški, and Trio Kučkovski.In 1967, Pece toured the U.S. again as a gajda player with “Lado.” Beginning in 1970, Pece and Dr. Firfov held annual ten-day seminars each summer on the dances and songs and folklore of Macedonia at Oteševo at Lake Prespa. These seminars were attended by many folklore enthusiasts from North America, Western Europe, and Japan.
In 1972, Pece toured North America for the first time on his own, and many of his original dances he taught became classics in the international recreational repertoire.Pece recorded with several musical groups and produced fine recordings of Macedonian dance music which are available from your local folk dance recording outlet. Outstanding CDs and matching videos of Pece are available from BMA Productions (Canada). The 47 musical selections found on these two CDs are original master recordings licensed from Croatia Records (formerly Jugoton), and RTB (RTS Beograd) and were released in Germany in 2003 by Verlag Happ. Yves Moreau and BMA obtained special permission from Verlag Hepp to press these CDs in Canada for distribution and sale in North America. The recordings feature the Pece Atanasovski Orchestra with Pece on gajda and his fantastic musicians accompanying him with many solos on kaval and tambura. There are also several tracks with zurla and tapan, calgija orchestra, clarinet, accordion, and Aegean Macedonian brass band. The technical quality is excellent both for dancing and listening.