The Magical Bulgarian National Dances

Magic, inspiration, talent, energy – these are just part of the things which could possibly describe Bulgarian national dances. Bulgaria is famous for its wonderful folk music that it was sent into space by NASA. In this article, we will try to show you the best known traditional dances, so that when you come to Bulgaria, you will be able to dance with the natives!

The best known Bulgarian folk dance is the horo, a fast, swirling circle dance. One of the most interesting features of Balkan folk dance music is the complexity of its rhythms in comparison to Western music. Although it uses Western meters such as 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4, Balkan music also adds meters with 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 beats per measure. It takes more than just talent to dance on this rhythms! 

Many Bulgarian dances are line dances, with the dancers holding hands in a straight or curved line. Several different handholds are used in the different dances – V shape, W shape, teacup hold, or shoulder hold. Footwork can vary from fast intricate steps to slow sustained cat-like movements.

Bulgaria is divided into ethnographic regions: Mizia, Dobrudzha, Trakia, Shopluk, Pirin, Rhodopi, and Strandzha. Each region has its own distinctive style of dance, to the extent that a knowledgeable observer can often tell which region a Bulgarian comes from by how he performs a popular dance like the Pravo Horo. The Dobrudzhan Pravo is danced with knees always bent, but Pravo Rhodopsko is a simple dance with small and restrained steps.  

Where can you see a mixture of Bulgarian dances? Of course, at the folklore festivals. The most exciting ones are those in Koprivshtitza and in Predela. Moreover, you can try traditional costumes from the different regions. In the past, the traditional dance costumes were entirely home-made. They are very beautiful and in some villages nowadays, designers are still making them entirely by hand.

We also have a UNESCO candidature related to our folklore music. The Bistritsa Babi group is dedicated to the archaic polyphony, dances and ritual practices that can be found in the Shoplouk region of Bulgaria. The group was founded more than half a century ago and consist today of 9 women – third generation singers.

 

They are singing in two groups – the one group is singing, while the other accompanying and they are singing only old songs. Most of them are difficult for performing, with various ornaments, which they call “tresene”. The group is included in List of masterpieces of the world intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. 

If you are attending a Bulgarian wedding, you will have the incredible chance to feel the spirit of Bulgarian folk dances, and even take part in them. Take a look:

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Petya Petrova

Petya Petrova is a journalist, believer, and traveler.

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