Tuesday, 17 February 2009

What's the time? Kolo time! I

Anyone who have been to Serbia and surroundings have for sure heard about "kolo". Kolo is for Serbia as samba is for Brazil: kolo is the quintessencial serbian dance, is the thing that each serbian citizen is supposed to know how to dance from the day he/she was born - even though (like samba in Brazil) this is not always necessarily true (I am brazilian and I have no clue on how to dance samba).

Kola (serbian plural for kolo) can be very slow and easy, or fast and freaky, depending from the rigion they come from, as kolo can be found all over Serbia and neighbouring countries. The music is usually played by accordions, frula (a serbian flute), violins, percussion and, several times, by brass instruments like trumpets (those played by as many different instruments as possible are the coolest although, in my opinion, accodions are a must when it comes to kolo).

Kolo dance is usually danced in circles - hence the name (kolo means "wheel", "circle" in serbian) - or lines, by two people to several dozens, holding each other's hands while doing the basic steps (always starting to the right):

two steps to the right
one to the left
another one to the right

two steps to the left
one to the right
another one to the left

Discribing it like this might makes kolo sounds rather boring, but it isn't: once you get used to the rithym and the basic steps, kolo becomes rather addictive. I always catch myself moving my feet when I'm sitting on a bus, or waiting on a queue :)

Although the basic steps are rather simple, due to it's many variations from town to town kolo can be added of many ornamental elements and some crazy syncopated steps. Some of the most famous kolo types are Užičko (from the Užice region), Moravac and Čačak (these two from regions with the same name) among many, many others. click on the word links to see videos
In Serbia, kolo is all around: musicians on the streets always play it, people dance to it on kafanas (Serbian bars), clubs, parties and so on. It's kinda magical, cause it's a dance that makes people that never met before get together and dance, hand in hand. I'll never forget when me and my brazilian friends danced kolo for the first time on a kafana or when me and my belgian friend, Valerie, stopped in front of a roma brass band on Knez Mihailova (Belgrade's most famous street) and danced together with some gypsy kids that were around, attracting a crowd of several dozen people that stopped to watch us - an unforgettable moment :)
Kolo is the dance that best expresses the "spirit" of Serbia and it's warm, welcoming and well humoured people. That's probably why I love kolo as much as I do.


Bibi said...

Hello! I've just discovered your site through Balkan File. I was pleased to see you'd posted something about the kolo. I'm not a good dancer, and my daughter is getting married this September. I'll follow your instructions to practice!

Drop by my blog!

Maria said...

Hey there!

Hope the kolo instructions helped you a bit :)

Great blog you have, by the way! Adding it to my friend's list now!

Lina said...

uuuuuuaauuuuu !

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