*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.
The music is from Greece, and Greeks call the dance –Zonaradiko, but look closely – that’s a Bulgarian dance you already know – Pravo. The music may sound different, but the dance is virtually the same, and I just figured out why. Read my article on Thrace under CULTURE. Thrace – the ancient land that’s now in the area where Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece meet. As you also know, under the Ottomans there were no borders in this area, so Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Roma, Armenians, and many others were completely intermingled.
In 1922, an attempt was made to separate these ethnic groups by sending Turks to Turkey, and Greeks to Greece. Bulgaria also took part in this exchange, sending Greek-speaking Bulgarians to Greece. They were mostly settled in the area vacated by Turks sent to Turkey (and Bulgarians sent to Bulgaria) – the Greek portion of Thrace. There you’ll find a dance with the Greek title Zonaradikos, which means ‘belt’. That’s how Greeks (and formerly most Bulgarians) held on to each other when doing this dance. Nowadays they hold shoulders, or do a front basket hold.
However, as John Uhlemann explains, pravo and zonarádiko are not necessarily the dances of two cultures, but the dance of one culture that predates the two countries we know today. “This is even more true of Thracian Greek dances, which are not re-named Bulgarian dances. Remember, the Thracian Greeks now living in the Evros valley of Eastern/”Thracian” Greece were originally from around Plovdiv and were invited to leave about 100 years ago. They did not borrow Bulgarian dances and then rename them; these were Thracian dances that those living in Thrace did, what ever the language. The names are in local language and are descriptive – Rûchenitsa = Mandilatos, and both translate into “handkerchief”. Sometimes the name was kept, but the pronunciation was varied a bit, it is true (e.g. Trite Pûti became Tris potis or Stis Tris, etc.). Like you said, somebody throws up a border and then people want to attach a nationality to a dance rather than a geographic region.”
The description below is based on this performance: