*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still 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). For more information, click here and here.
Dimna Juda, Kopačka – the songs
In the beginning…there were songs; and dances. The song Dimna Juda was associated (in the Delčevo region, near the Bulgarian border), with a particular dance, but which came first? Was the song sung alone without the dance? (likely) Was the dance used with many other songs? (likely).
Ron Houston, comment found here: https://sfdh.us/encyclopedia/kopacka.html “When the dance Kopačka was choreographed, “Dimna Juda” was put on the front as a slow part (presumably because of the related melody and the need for some slower warm up steps). The theme of Kopačka is agriculture and it is unconnected with “Dimna Juda.” I believe historically that neither song has anything to do with Kopačka as a village dance. In the Berovo-Delčevo area of Macedonia from where Kopačka comes, villagers have danced it just to tâpan accompaniment.”
Kopačka songs and melodies – Derviško viško mome
Dimna Juda, Kopačka, Za Pojas – the dances
Dimna Juda is a song and possibly an independent footwork pattern. In N Macedonia, the same basic 10-measure asymmetric pattern as the Bulgarian Šopsko horo has two different names – Za pojas, and Kopačka (or Kopačkata). Za Pojas means the same as it does in Bulgarian; “by the belt”, as in holding each other “by the belt”. Kopačka (or Kopačkata) is a female digger (kopač is a male digger). Source: Ron Houston, in his detailed article on Kopačka in the ©2018 Folk Dance Problem Solver.
Basic Dimna Juda pattern:
I can find no Living YouTube examples of dancing Dimna Juda in Macedonia in a social, non-performance context. However there are many historical references to Dimna Juda being part of the repertoire of the Maleševsko/Delčevo region of Eastern North Macedonia.
Other patterns that were slight and/or major variants of the above were introduced to the USA by various teachers at various times. All are concordant with (have the same length as) a stanza.
Steve Ayala writes:
My latest thanks (of many) to you is for the recent Dimna Juda write-ups in your ‘Folkdance Footnotes – Beyond Choreography’ series.
In the 1980s Carol Hirsh, our previous teacher in Petaluma, taught Dimna Juda as its own unique dance, rather than simply as the slow first half of Tanec’s “Kopachka” medley arrangement. We’ve kept it going occasionally since then – mostly around Halloween. We dance it much like Jim Gold does in the video you included. But instead of the “V” arm pattern in Gold’s video, we use a front-basket-hold – otherwise our styling and Jim Gold’s is practically the same. The front-basket-hold adds tension to the story’s inevitable and inescapable end, as the dancers are pulled along toward Dimna Juda’s farm.
Attached is a 1-page summary of the Dimna Juda dance, as we perform it in Petaluma.
Gratefully, Steve Ayala
Living Basic Kopačka / Za pojas pattern:
4 walking steps (2 measures of 2/4) + 3 step-lifts (3 measures of 2/4) to R, same to L (2 + 3 measures). Add variations, keep the same 10-measure pattern.
1st G* Tanec medley – Dimna juda and Kopačka
*1st Generation dance. A dance that developed in a traditional way – not ‘taught’ by a teacher or choreographer, but ‘learned’ by observing and imitating others in your “village”, where the village’s few dances were the only dances anyone knew. It usually is ‘generic’ – the dance pattern is fairly simple and not tied to any particular piece of music. The dance phrase may or may not match any musical phrase, but the music’s rhythm must be suitable for performing the footwork. This dance may have many variations, but they’re performed at the whim or inspiration of the leader or (sometimes) any other dancer so long as it doesn’t interfere with the flow of neighboring dancers. For more, click here, here, and here.
The pairing of the dance/songs Dimna Juda and Kopačka seems to have been a deliberate act by a performing group, most likely Tanec, though perhaps Tanec just made famous a medley brought to it by a more local group. It seems there were several local versions of Kopacka, and Tanec members may have added their own variations.
In their book “Ensemble Tanec – Dances of Macedonia” (Skopje 1995), Elsie Ivančić-Dunin and Stanimir Višinski explain the origins of dances in the Tanec Ensemble repertoire. On page 180, they state that Kopačka is from the Delčevo area and was taught by Stojče Zahariev and Nikola Arsov, village dancers from that area, adding that in the early performances of Tanec, the medley: Dimna Juda and Kopačka (using the song Dereviško, viško mome) was done to the accompaniement of a ćemane (three stringed-fiddle) and later to gajda and tâpan.
Đorđi Dimčevski in his book “Vie se oro Makedonsko” (Skopje 1983) talks about the medley Dimna Juda and Kopačka and says that it was traditionally played by a “gadulka” (gusle) and that the dance was from the “Maleševsko” area.
Dimčevski, a composer and arranger was musical director of Tanec for many years and made many arrangements of dance repertoire in a more contemporary style using accordion, violin, guitar, bass, flute etc (a good example is the well-known Žensko Čamče introduced by Atanas Kolarovski and still danced in many recreational groups in North America.
Yves Moreau says: “Perhaps some of the most interesting background information on Kopačka is to be found in the book “Makedonski Narodni Ora” by Ganco Pajtondžiev (Skopje 1973) which presents traditional dances from Eastern Macedonia. The author describes over 100 dances including two versions of Kopačka and also Dimna Juda Mamo and Dereviško, viško mome (two versions). Dimna Juda and Dereviško are presented as two dances from the village of Vetren (Delčevo region) and the source is listed as Nikolačko Ilcov Arsov (which most likely is the same source as what Dunin and and Višinski refer to as teaching Kopačka to Tanec). Arsov was filmed by the folklore institute of Skopje in 1953. Interestingly the two Kopačkas described in the book are not from the same source or even immediate vicinity and seem quite different from the Tanec version. Dimna Juda is described in Pajtondziev’s book as a mixed dance in 2/4 with an eight-measure pattern (which seems to resemble the version we know). The song text is very similar to the one we know but with a few extra verses. The two versions of “Dereviško, viško mome” are also in eight-measure patterns. The second version is described as a variation of the first with somewhat larger steps and more versatility. None of these versions, though, look anything like the fancy, fast and intricate Kopačkas. Did Arsov actually teach Tanec the tricky steps as well? Or was it Stojče Zahariev who is mentioned earlier by Dunin and Višinski who also mention that a Dragan Petruševski learned the step patterns, set the sequence and led the dance until 1957. Petruševski is also listed as a source in Pajtondziev’s book for another danced called Berovska Šopska. Petruševski is from the village of Kozle (Skopje region). Pajtondziev even comments that this Berovka is not danced at all in Berovo. . . . The whole “medley” is obviously a composite piece. The fact remains that “Dimna Juda” and “Dereviško Mome” are real dance-songs and come from the same source. Dunin in her book also says that the dance Kopačka was done by Tanec as early as in 1951 (there is even a nice photo showing Tanec members performing Kopačka in Trieste, Italy in 1952). That was even before Arsov was filmed by the Folklore Institute. Would be nice to hear more other sources.” Source: https://sfdh.us/encyclopedia/kopacka.html
The “village” Kopačka was a men’s dance originally called “sitnata”, according to Atanas Kolarovski, with many virtuosic variations.