*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.
Is there a pan-Balkan traditional folk dance? I don’t know about the past, but as of 2023 there is one outstanding candidate – Pajduško. A search of You Tubes from the Balkans show people “village” dancing (non-performance) Pajduško Oro (North Macedonia), Kolo Pajduška (Serbia), Payduška (Bosnia), Pajduško Horo (Bulgaria), Baidouska (Greece), Paidushca (Romania), Valle Pajtushka/Katjushka (Albania), and Payduşka (Turkey),.
Let’s start by looking at the basic footwork, as explained by John Pappas
Although I was taught the first version he demonstrates, I find today most people in the Balkans dance what John calls (at the 1:34 mark) a “slight variation, back and forth”. Notice the uneven, Quick-Slow rhythm.
North Macedonia – Pajdusko oro, Пајдушко оро
I have 8 examples from North Macedonia – same dance.
Bulgaria – Пайдушка хоро
Greece – Baidouska, Μπαϊντούσκα
In Greece, Baidouska is performed primarily on stage. I could find no examples of “village” dancing.
Serbia – Kolo Pajduška
Same footwork in Serbia (6 examples), and Bosnia (1).
Romania – Paidushca
Albania – Pajtushka, Katjushka
Which brings us to Albania. Many of the Turkish You Tubes claim Payduska is an Albanian dance. We know that today ¼ of North Macedonia’s population speaks Albanian, and there was a large exodus of Muslims from Macedonia to Turkey following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Many of those in Turkey who dance Payduşka are descendants of those refugees.
A search for Albanian Payduska went nowhere, but I stumbled across a Pajtushka that was the same dance:
Eventually I found Katjushka – I recorded 10 examples.
With Katjushka we have almost no hand-holding, the beginning 4 step-hops have become 2 turns, (that variation is also seen in Turkey & Macedonia), and 5/16 time has become ¾ – though still Quick-Slow. Otherwise it’s the same dance, but much more enchanting! For more examples of Katjushka, click here.
Turkey – Payduşka
Where the dance is most popular seems to be Turkey. I easily found 12 examples of non-performance dancing – I’m confident there are many more. All follow the same 10-measure pattern (with some variation).
John Uhlemann wrote (in 2022):”I have had the pleasure of “learning” this dance several times. The first time was in an Albanian bar in St. Louis on the anniversary of Albanian independence. That group of young immigrant women did 4 variations (adding turns and claps, but basically the same dance). They called it Kajtushka (as did one of our instructors in Albania). I just got back from southern Albania where it was both taught and just “done in line”. Claps were added during the 3 steps to the left, as well as on the final “cross step” (as on some of your videos). In Saranda they omitted the claps altogether. By the way, doing the 3 R-Ls to the left as a grapevine is a very “north Macedonian” thing to do – the Bulgarians do not normally do Pajduško that way. Arm swings are not done in Albania. The melody in most of your YouTube videos was common, but the band almost always switched to other tunes as the dance went on, particularly “Barbaro Vasiliko”. Of all the places we danced, all the locals did it.”
Now for some music.
This is a Bulgarian Pajduško brought to us by Dick Crum.
A more “tribal” Pajduško by Pece Atanovski.