Mori Shej (2*) – Hungarian Roma music, UK/USA choreography

*2nd Generation dance. A dance that developed and was disseminated in a non-traditional way. 2G dances are specific – have a fixed format designed to correspond with the arrangement of a particular recording., whereas 1G dances are generic – have a shorter sequence that works with live music – where many different songs are played and arrangements vary according to the tastes of musicians and dancers. For more on the differences between 1st & 2nd G dances click here.

Mori Shej – the Song

MORI SHEJ (MOH-ree Shay) “(My) Daughter” MORI SHEJ is a song recorded in 1995 for the album O SUNO by the Hungarian Roma group Kalyi Jag. (Hungaroton 18211). They usually record traditional material, but member Joszef Balough wrote this lullaby for his daughter, Sabina. 

Though I can’t be certain, it appears the photos are of Joszef Balough, composer,
and Sabina, the Mori Shej, with (presumably) her mother?

Mori Shej – the Dance

Later, Laura Shannon and Jimmy Drury wrote separate choreographies for the song.  Shannon’s is more popular in Europe.  Drury’s, (spread by Lee Otterholt), is more popular in North America. NOTE: These choreographies, purposely composed for the International Folk Dance and Circle Dance communities, should not be confused with the individualistic, spontaneous, improvised moves, (seldom involving holding hands), that are characteristic of Hungarian Roma dancing. Below is an example.

You’ll see their feet better by going to this link:

Drury Choreography

Here the basic pattern is demonstrated twice (1st 20 seconds), Note flexible knees, up & down styling. Later is an improvised variation
At 2:15 the group breaks up for improvisations.

Shannon Arrangement

According to Laura’s own written notes, she was attending the 1995 Gypsy Music Festival in Switzerland, where she saw Hungarian Roma dancing in the traditional solo style known as olah – Hungarian for Vlach (see 1989 example above). However “at one point the female singer of the olah group Kek Lang (who appear in Tony Gatliff’s film Latcho Drom) encouraged everyone to join hands in a circle and dance together. At home, I arranged her steps in a sequence to create a circle dance.”

Note: The B section of this notation by Don Buskirk has been re-arranged (simplified) to better understand the underlying pattern.
Pattern best seen starting at 1:46.
Good teaching, however Laura arranged a ‘V’ hold, not ‘W’
Ira Weisbrud has been teaching a hybrid Shannon/Drury version.


Anonymous wrote: Just to confuse matters, Steve Kotansky also presented a dance called Mori Shej to a song recorded by Kaly Jag, but on a later CD, using a different tune.

Dean wrote: Just saw the new version of your web page on Mori Shej, and I think the Anonymous comment at the end is confused. Steve is teaching Mahala Mori Shej which is a different dance (and song, also by Kalyi Jag on a different album). See

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