Bulgaria-Regional Dance Styles by Yves Moreau
Dances of the SOP area (named after the sopi. an ethnic group found in Western Bulgaria and Eastern parts of Serbia and Macedonia) are usually quite fast with tricky movements and wild tunes.
Dances of THRACE are more solemn and generally slower. The dances from the western part of Thrace, west of Plovdiv and around Panagjuriste and Ihtiman, are livelier and are sometimes confused with the Sop ones.
Dances of the PIRIN region (named after the mountains of the same name) use larger steps and tricky movements as well. The dances of the PIRIN region are very much related to the types found slightly to the west in Jugoslav Macedonia in such towns as Kriva Palanka, Strumica, Delcevo, and so forth. Many of these PIRIN (Macedonian) dances begin slowly using an improvised pattern which develops later into a more regular form at a faster tempo.
North Bulgarian dances are in general quite energetic and exuberant. Dances of the Northwest have a similar character but have more marked influence from nearby Serbia as well as a strong Romanian flavour radiated by the imposing number of Vlachs in that area.
The dances of DOBRUDZA are probably the most exciting to watch. Dobrudzan dances are done generally at moderate tempo using slightly bent knees with the dancers’ backs arched backward. Shoulder and arm movements play an important role in their dances. It is quite probable that some of these stylings were influenced by the Turks as similar forms are found along the Black Sea coast in Turkey.
Not too many dances have been collected in the RHODOPES. The types of dances observed there very much resemble those in East Thrace. Dances in the western part of the Rhodopes have much in common with those in the Pirin. In the east section, there are many Turkish settlements which have kept up specific traditional dances. The entire region, however, is perhaps the richest treasure-house of folk songs in Bulgaria.
The STRANDZA area is also a subdivision of EASTERN THRACE where singing tradition is predominant. The area used to be famous for the “Nestinarsko” fire dance ritual. The “racenica po trojki” (for three) is widespread in that part of the country.