*a Living dance, performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation).
Cigančica (tsih-GAHN-chee-tsa), according to Ron Houston’s ©2015 Folk Dance Problem Solver, “refers to several dances and songs found throughout the South Slavic countries, but as dance ethnologist Dick Crum repeatedly wrote, “Just why the term ‘Gypsy’ is attached to any of these names in unclear.”
UPDATED: In N. Macedonia, Cigančica usually refers to a 10-measure pattern in a fast 7/16 or 7/8 time. It’s a mirror-image pair of 5-measure figures: [hop-step-stepX2 + step-step-stepX3, repeat starting on other foot]. Sharp-eyed viewers may recognize this pattern as a hybrid member of the Taproot Family; call it the Taproot T-10. The T-8 has a pair of beats; one [step, ___,] added to the back end of a T-6, making it Kolo. Another T-8 is Maleshevsko, where each of the 3 pairs of [step, ____,] at the end are replaced with 3 triple steps, each in a [Q,Q,S,]. Cigančica has the 3 sets of triples at the back end, like Maleshevsko, plus an additional pair of beats added to the front end, making it a T-10. Why I consider it a hybrid, is the 2 sets of 2 beats at the beginning are not simple steps [R,L,X2], they’re the more complex triples, [hop-step-stepX2], both ending on the same foot they started on. Dance scholars call it a Za pojas pattern. Below you see it in action at it’s regular fast pace.
Bugarka, Bugarčica, Pešačka/o, Serbia
South Serbia (just over the border from N. Macedonia) is home to a VERY similar dance known as Bugarka (“Bulgarian”) also called Bugarčica. I speculate the term “Bulgarian” is applied to this dance due to the fast Q,Q,S, (7/8) rhythm; same as the quintessentially Bulgarian dance Râčenica. I’ve seen several comments below these YouTubes from Bulgarians who say the dance IS Râčenica. Several of the more complex figures demonstrated by performing groups (below) would not be out of place in a Râčenica.
This Bugarka is not to be confused with another Bugarka from the village of Zhagubitsa, NE Serbia, which is in 2/4 time.
NEW UPDATE: I’ve had recent email correspondence with Alexander Marković, regarding Bugarka. His comments are below in italics. “Bugarka (also in some regions known as Bugarčica, in diminutive form) is a rural dance form widespread in southeastern Serbia. The basic dance pattern and musical meter exists throughout these regions, but every local area features variations in style (however slight), improvisation, syncopation, naming, etc. You are right that Cigančica from Macedonia is essentially the same pattern & meter; the name Cigančica for similar dance pattern/meter occurs in Serbia, too, for example in the Negotin area of eastern Serbia among Vlah and Serbian communities alike. In the region around Niš- as well as in neighboring regions like Palanka, Gornja (Upper) Nišava, Pirot, etc. – many communities use the name Pešačka/o instead. So multiple names across the wider region, and various step patterns and styling, all depending on the community in question.
…it is a folk dance that has probably been around since at least the late 1800s or early 1900s in the area. The exact history isn’t well known, as is often the case with folk dances.
I think it is quite likely that Bugarka and Račenica are related or have a common origin- the border between Bulgarian territory and Serbian was only set in the late 1800s, and native populations on both sides have long been culturally & linguistically quite similar to each other. It’s mostly a question of political imposition of new state lines and efforts to cultivate “national identity” in the late 19th century that pushed people in the region to declare either as “Serbs” or “Bulgarians”. (There are some regions in Serbia where locals opted for the Bulgarian affiliation, even though they are on the other side of the border- in the Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad areas, for example.)
That said, the same would go for dance culture and forms. Because precise histories are hard to come by for this kind of thing, it’s anyone’s guess whether Bugarka evolved out of an older Bulgarian dance-musical tradition, or whether it has been native in SE Serbia for just as long given the political-ethnic past of the area. Certainly Račenica is a widespread family/type of music and dance throughout much of Bulgaria, which says something about it being quite indigenous to Bulgarian communities. In the Surdulica region of Serbia, in fact, sometimes locals even refer to the Bugarka dance as R’čenica; they also use Sitna Bugarka (small or “fine”, in the sense of petite, Bugarka). And of course, the dance’s name in many of these SE Serbian regions would imply some kind of Bulgarian connection- “Bugarka” essentially means “Bulgarian dance.” But the step pattern does not parallel the typical form of Račenica in Bulgaria, to my knowledge; I’m thinking of a solo dance pattern with two measures, each a triple step with a quick-quick-slow pulse. I’m not as well versed in Bulgarian folk repertoires, though, so I may not know of Bulgarian repertoires Račenica is similar/identical to Bugarka? Among Bulgarian identified people in the Bosilegrad area within Serbia, for what it’s worth, there was a dance like that two measure Račenica- but they called it Pešački! (In the 1930s locals explained that this had to do with the solo form of the dance and movement in space- the dancer was a “pešak,” which essentially translates to someone strolling/walking.)
The 5 measure symmetrical pattern of Bugarka/Pešačka/Cigančica certainly parallels common dance patterns in the Shopluk area of Bulgaria- but again, whether these were “imported” or a legacy of a common cultural region before national boundaries is unknown. Bulgaria & Serbia (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) divided the Shopluk region between the late 19th/early 20th centuries; when North Macedonia became independent in the 1990s, they took a portion with them in turn. So the dance form may have deeper roots in the wider area, even if it wasn’t always called Bugarka.
It may also be the case that it was a more recent import to the area. Bulgarian forces occupied SE Serbian territories during both WWI and WWII; in the Vranje area, for example, locals took up Eleno Mome from Bulgarians during this occupation, and it has remained in the local dance repertoire to this day. For what it’s worth, dance researcher sisters Danica and Ljubica Janković did not document any dance with the name Bugarka in several regions of southeastern Serbia & Macedonia where they conducted fieldwork in the 1930s and 40s- but they couldn’t document everything in the areas they visited in short stays, of course, so it may be that they simply didn’t come across it or weren’t told about it. They did document dances with this pattern, though, and meter…in the Nišava area it was then known as Pešačka, and in the Kumanovo area there was a dance called Šop(s)ka, i.e., “Shop dance” (from the Shopluk region). It may be that Bugarka/Bugarčica are relatively newer names for dances that have older local roots, perhaps as locals had greater exposure to Bulgarian folk repertoires and began to make that connection because of similar meter.“
Don question: Is Bugarka popular further north? Only among folk dancers/performers who have learned the dance through ensembles. They would have much less social context for dancing it, though, because it is not a local dance in central or northern Serbia (with the possible exception of communities of southerners who have resettled in places like Vojvodina).
Alex also included several YouTube examples of Bugarka, Bugarčica, & Pešačka, including comments, which are in italics. YouTubes without italics are from my original posting.
NOT ALL MUSIC FOR Cigančica, Bugarka, Bugarčica, Pešačka/o, is in 7/8 time. Alex Marković provided this link to a Serbian Cigančica which to my ear sounds like its in 3/4.