Today I have enjoyed watching many clips of Slovakian dancing. So lovely! They do it alone, in pairs, groups of just men, just women and all mixed in. Women wear colorful skirts that make a perfect circle when they twirl and ribbons on the their hair. Men can dance with props, a favorite seems to be a small ax with a long stick and even on a bottle!
As I am traveling virtually I have realized that I can’t go deep into any of these topics like traditional dances. There is way too much information, too many years in the making of all the history of each country and all the aspects of their culture. So my approach will be light and I will sometimes point to websites or blogs where people have gone more depth on a certain topic.
One blogger I liked wrote:
“The mountainous regions of Slovakia were even more sparsely inhabited and very underdeveloped economically. To remedy the situation, the nobility encouraged the shepherd’s avocation by giving them various rights and privileges to settle in these regions. The granting of these advantages brought Walach shepherds into the country from Romania (13th and 15th centuries), from the Ukraine (15th and 16th centuries), and from the Polish side of the High Tatra Mountains (17th and 18th centuries). Every immigration wave brought new elements which were assimilated and transformed until finally in new cultural and social conditions, they formed a very unique music and dance style.”
One thing that she mentioned that I never really thought about, was that dance began not as a form of entertainment but because of ritual. People all over the world needed a way to explain what was happening around them and rituals, believing in something and adhering to steps of how to honor it gave them safety.
She classifies the dances by historical layer.
Chorovod: A dance by a group of girls. One girl acts as the leader and the others join hands in line forming a chain of dancers. Choreographically, the dance is very simple and consists of simple walking or running steps. The girls circle around a pole or fire, or weave the line into various shapes such as a circle, a “U” or “S” shape, or a curved form of zigzag. Other names for this type of dance are: Helička and in the East is is often called Hoja Ďunďa. Other common names include Omiliencei, Kadze Pavička, Letala, and Kačor. The names and forms vary according to region.
Koleso: (girls’ round dances) These dances are characterized by girls dancing in rounds. “Chorovod and round dance are among the oldest Slovak dances and are linked to the ceremonial round dances that can be traced across the whole of Europe. The round dance is known by a variety of names, including Kolo, Kolesko, Kolesá, do Kolesá, Karička, Čuchom, and Körtánc. Kolesa and Karička are the more familiar names; Kolesa is the name used in Central Slovakia and Karička is used in Eastern Slovakia.” Cr.socalfolkdance.org
You can see both of these dances in this video.
SO beautiful! This is Lúčnica – The Slovak National Folklore Ballet! Here is another:
I loved this one too! How they switch around! It just looks so fun and full of camaraderie!
Now let’s move onto the men. Their dances originated in the transition of boyhood to manhood and their ability to do certain movements. In some instances competitive elements were also added to the dances. These are the most typical male dances:
Odzemok: It is the “national” or most typical dance of Slovakia. These dances came from soldiers, robbers, and shepherds, but later they were also danced by the nobility. Accounts of this dance form survive from the 16th century and by the 19th century information became more profuse. Odzemok is found everywhere in Slovakia but is richest in the central and northeast parts, especially in the High Tatra Mountains. Cr. socalfolkdance.org
This dancer is amazing… watch it through the end, it just gets better and better!
Interested in learning more about Odzemok? Visit THIS very complete blog.
There was one very famous Slovak dancer, artistic director and choreographer I read about: Štefan Nosáľ. This man led Lúčnica the National Folklore Ballet for 50 years!!! He choreographed about 200 dances of this ballet for TV!
In this tribute video you can see him as a dancer, a teacher, and choreographer.
HERE is the YouTube Channel of the Lúčnica Slovak National Folklore Ballet. It is filled with hours of wonderful dances. Just extraordinary!
Couple turning dances of the old style are historically linked to the Western European medieval and renaissance couple dances. Sporadic evidence of this dance genre exists from the 17th century and their occurrence culminated in the first half of the 18th century. At this time, improvised pair dances in 3/4 time were common in Slovakia. Because of the peculiarities of the dance and their frequency they were considered characteristic dances of the Slovak territory.
The dance has many regional differences but the motif common to all is turning as a couple in some form of closed dance position. The dance is highly improvised and the motifs are varied and rich. The male is dominant (as he is in society) and the female partner is only an accompaniment, submitting to the leadership of the male.
The dance has many names including: Sedliacka, Friška, Vrchovská, Krucena, Krutena, Skoč;nq, do Skoko, Starosvetská, Slovenčina, Šiková, Redovi, and Rovná.
Here is a Starosvetská:
And from that we move to current times to a dances like Verbunk, Čardáš, The Mazúrka, The Polka, and others like this current Slovakian group that does things like this: a Rusyn!
For more about Slovakia’s amazing folk dances visit THIS blog. There is a lot more!
I will end this post with some beautiful photos of Slovak Folk Dancing. Some of these photos are from the Lúčnica Slovak National Folklore Ballet.