Is there a pan-Balkan traditional folk dance? I don’t know about the past, but as of 2017 there is one outstanding candidate – Pajduško. A search of You Tubes from the Balkans show people “village” dancing (non-performance) Payduska (Turkey), Pajduško Oro (Macedonia), Pajduška Kolo (Serbia), Payduška (Bosnia), Pajduško Horo (Bulgaria), Baidouska (Greece), Paidushca (Romania), and Valle Pajtushka/Katjushka (Albania).
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”.
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).
I have 8 examples from Macedonia – same dance.
Same footwork in Serbia (6 examples), and Bosnia (1).
Bulgaria and Greece do things differently, though they’re remarkably similar to each other. First, their footwork follows David’s first pattern. Hands are much more in play – lots of arm swings. The big difference is Pajdusko/Baidouska are performed primarily on stage. I could find almost no examples of “village” dancing.
Romania is another outlier. 7 “village” examples, same footwork as David’s “variation”, but to a bouncy 4/4 rhythm, not the standard 5/16.
Which brings us to Albania. Many of the Turkish You Tubes claim Payduska is an Albanian dance. We know that today ¼ of 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 Payduska 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. – otherwise the same dance, but much more enchanting!
Now for some music. This is a Bulgarian Pajduško brought to us by Dick Crum.
A more “tribal” Pajduško by Pece Atanovski.
Comments? Want a list of further examples? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.