Bulgarian dancing contexts

Bulgarian dancing still takes place at social gatherings and weddings, but the repertoire of dances is generally limited to simple “straight” dance (Pravo Horo) belonging to the region and the improvised Rachenitsa.

Dance groups still meet in some towns and villages in Bulgaria. These groups known as Izvorni groups and perform only the dances from their own village with minimal choreography. These dances are simple and repetitive, with variations usually performed only by individuals and not by the group in unison. These are the groups who take part in the festival in Koprivshtitsa which has been held around every five years since 1965.

In the urban context there are both amateur and professional ensembles which perform choreographed suites of dances from all over Bulgaria. This form of staged folk dance was influenced by the work of Igor Moiseyev in creating the idea of a folk ballet, and was greatly expanded in the 1950s. Each region still has its professional ensemble and these continue to train dancers and choreographers. The amateur ensembles are very popular among children and teenagers, as they may give them the opportunity to travel to festivals, both within Bulgaria and abroad to perform. The professional ensembles are based in the larger towns or regional centres and perform more complex choreographies, with more developed theatrical elements than the amateur groups.

During the last decade the popularity of Bulgarian dancing among Bulgarians has steadily increased and many horo clubs have been set up where adults can spend an evening enjoying learning and dancing Bulgarian dances for recreation. The dances popular with the members of these clubs are usually slightly more complex arrangements of traditional village dances, possibly combining several figures from adjoining villages or else including several of the more interesting variations performed by the village experts, and all arranged by the great number of ensemble trained choreographers in Bulgaria. In many ways the repertoire in this scene is most similar to the worldwide “International folk dance” or “Balkan dance” scenes.

Published on 8th June 2018