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Arap

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a dance

From: Ron Houston. Folk Dance Problem Solver 1997. Austin, Texas: Society of Folk Dance Historians, 1997.

(AH-rahp) = Arab

OTHER NAMES:

Arap Avasi -- Joe’s Turkish-Greco-Slavic name

Katerina Moma -- Ventzi’s name, not to be confused with other Bulgarian dances of similar name

Zajko Kokorajko = Zayko Kukurayko -- Engler/Boxell’s substitute tune

BACKGROUND:

Arap came to the town of Petrich and the Struma River valley in Pirin (Bulgarian Eastern Macedonia) with refugees from the village of Spatovo, Ser region (Aegean Macedonia) during the sad days of forced Hellenization following the 1st World War. Not that the refugees found peace -- Macedonians, Bulgarians, Pomaks (Bulgarian Moslems), Albanians, Molossians, Byzantines, Greeks, Roma (Gypsies), Vlachs, and a few remaining Turks populate the area, and radicals, short on brains and long on bullets, from every nation that once occupied Macedonia, now claim an ancient territorial imperative. Except for Rome. I haven’t heard any ancient Romans advocating the annexation of Macedonia. Yet.

Arap, a pejorative term applied to anyone of imagined darker skin pigmentation than the speaker, also names this Slavic conception of Arabic dance, later choreographed for Soviet-inspired folk ballets and adapted by folklorists for international folk dancers in the U.S. in four delightful flavors:

The Gordon Engler / Dennis Boxell Arap

In about 1967, Engler/Boxell introduced Arap to the U.S. Not having the original music by tûpan (drum) and zurna (ear-splitting tool of the devil), Engler/Boxell used a very similar Macedonian song, Zajko Kokorajko, then available on the 10" Jugoton records LP EPY 3009 and LPY 64, and derivative recordings such as Monitor MFS 444 and Festival Records FM 4001a. Jugoton credited Alexsandar Sarievski as the singer with the Koche Petrovskog band and did not credit Pece Atanasovski on gayda (bagpipe). The "real" dance/game to Zajko Kokorajko did not appear for years, or maybe decades, and then could not compete with the then-ubiquitous Arap.

The Engler/Boxell version of Arap, unlike the unfortunate rabbit sung about in Zajko Kokorajko, found a home and spawned countless variations, some of which are documented in the Society Archives:

    The triple bounce variation in bar 6 appeared immediately; double bounces came later. One Dallas folk dance leader (now deceased) who had seen only the double bounce variation boasted to me in the early 1970s of adding a third bounce to bar 6: apparently a case of parallel evolution!

    The broad swings of the legs that begin the dance, allegedly caused by the heavy, baggy trousers worn by Pirin men, disappeared as did the trousers themselves [as American folk dance researchers traded blue jeans for dances and costumes?]. Ironically, this swing may have been an American invention, since early Bulgarian notes Biblioteka: Tantsova samodeynost: Pirinskite Narodni Tantsi, vol. 1, 1958 specify the low kick, instead.

    The hypnotic Zajko Kokorajko music on the original (substitute) recordings and their derivatives was replaced on American re-recordings of bassoon ["well, they’re both double reeds, and you know what gayda players cost," she whined].

    Perhaps because the incorrect music had a slower tempo than "real" Arap music, subsequent recordings were recorded at a faster tempo. (The original music actually started slow and sped up!)

    The heel touch of bar 4 became a brush, "almost" touching the floor.

    Australian notes describe the dance as beginning on bar 7 [perhaps our mates down under don’t wait through the introduction?] and present Zajko Kokorajko as the original music. Because of this, the pantomime shooting of the rabbit (a dancer wearing rabbit ears) by a hunter (a dancer carrying a stick to mimic a rifle) entered the otherwise hare-less dance.

The Joe Graziosi Arap Avasi

Joe presented in about 1987 what he called a Greco-Slav version that resembled variation 2 (above) as well as in subsequent versions of the dance. He titled it Arap Avasi, attributing these words to the Turkish for "Arab" and "tune."

The Ventzi Sotirov / Pirin Ensemble Katerina Moma (Arap)

In about 1993, Ventzi Sotirov, formerly a dancer with the Pirin ensemble, presented a somewhat more energetic version of the dance, calling it Katerina Moma. Ventzi’s Arap appears to reflect the dance as it is now taught in the choreographic academy in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The Toma Karapaunov Arap

Toma Karapaunov, a graduate of the Bulgarian army ensemble, taught a yet more energetic version of Arap to participants of the 1996 Society of Folk Dance Historians Bulgarian Seminar, held partly in Toma’s hometown of Momchilovtsi, Rhodope. Toma presented men’s variations, as well.


The Engler/Boxell Arap

FORMATION:

Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders. Free hands hold or twirl handkerchiefs. Note: men are told to dance broadly, strongly, and proudly while women are admonished to dance demurely.

BARS ACTION
2/4Introduction. Wait through the gayda introduction and start counting with the drumbeats.
1-12No action, mate!
  
 The dance. Start dancing with the singing, or with the beginning of any musical phrase.
1Chukche (raise and lower heel) with L foot, swinging R knee up, hip-high, and across in an inward arc with R foot extended a bit beyond R knee, starting diagonally forward to R and ending in front of R hip (ct 1), step forward and CCW around the circle onto R foot (ct 2).
2Repeat lift-step with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3= 1 (lift, step R), turning to face center.

Note: some folk dancers, especially those with stiff hips, perform these 3 lift-steps without the wide, inward swing of the knee. Some, in fact, omit the knee-lift entirely. Well, be nice. It’s not your job to correct them. And besides, those knee swings were probably an American invention.

4      Facing center, chukche with R foot, lifting L knee forward and L foot in back (ct 1), bend R knee a bit, lean back a bit, and straighten L knee to place L heel on floor as far forward as it comfortably will go (ct 2).

Yep, some folks dance this "bicycle" movement as a sort-of "back-bicycle." As before, it’s not your job to correct them.

5      Walk backward and away from center 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6Jump lightly in place onto both flat feet (ct 1), and optionally add 2 bounces (cts &,2).

You may settle onto both feet with knees slightly bent, bounce twice (cts 1,2), or bounce thrice (cts 1,&,2). I think we’re into the realm of individual and village variation here, although those Bulgarian notes from 1958 mention only one bounce.

7      Step in front of L foot onto R foot, kicking L foot to back of R calf (ct 1), step back, in place, onto L foot (ct 2), turning to face to R and CCW around the circle.
8Facing to R and CCW around the circle, walk forward 2 steps onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
 Repeat action of bars 1-8 to the end of the music. In its original setting, the dance would speed up, with hops replacing the chukches in bars 1-3.

Here’s that song. Back in the 1970s people actually memorized it. We never knew what all the words meant, but we memorized it anyway!

Zajko Kokorajko - Wary Rabbit

Storil niet zajko, zajko kokorajko The rabbit decided, wary rabbit
zajko da se zheni, zajko serbezlija rabbit to get married, daring rabbit
(zajko serbezlija, zajko da se zheni) (daring rabbit, rabbit to get married)
si natresol gagi, upûrchil mustaki he stuck up his nose, primped his mustache
nagûrnal dzhamadan, kapa piskulija held the demijohn, got the tasseled cap
more! Tokmo mladozhenja! oh my! What a groom!
  
Mi posvûrshil zajko, lisa udovica When the rabbit finished, widow fox
(tazhna natazhena, petijova komshica) (sadly saddened, the rooster's neighbor)
kitka na kitena, maza razmazhena adorned with a flower, painted
poznata dzhimrijka, svetska ispostnica the well-known, the worldly
more! Selska visitarka oh my! The village gossip!
  
Mi pokanil zajko, kiteni svatovi Then rabbit invited adorned matchmakers
mechka mesarlija, vûlchica kumica the bear - meat cook, wolfess - best lady
zhaba zurladzhika, ezho tûpandzija frog - zurla-player, hedgehog - tûpan player
oven esapdzhija, murdzho aberdzhija ram - accountant, dog - herald
(more! Marko sajûrdzhija) (oh my! the donkey - master of ceremonies)
zajko kokorajko, wary rabbit,
si natresol gagi, upûrchil mustaki he stuck up his nose, primped his mustache
nagrnal dzhamadan, kapa piskulija held the demijohn, got the tassled cap
more! Tokmo mladozhenja! oh my! What a groom!
  
Pa mi trgnal zajko, niz Solunsko pole, And the rabbit set off in Solun's fields
da si vidi zajko lisa udovica to see widow fox
tam si najde zajko, mesto lindralija there he found a place
kvachka so pilinja, teshka miradzhijka a hen with chicks, a heavy dowry-bearer
lichi za nevesta! a prominent wife!
  
Koga vide zajko, toa chudno chudo When the rabbit saw that strange wonder
pa mi leptna zajko nazad na tragovi then he ran away backwards
tam si sretna zajko, do dva-tri lovdzhiji there he saw two-three hunters
em oni si nosat pushki sachmaliji they had guns with pellets
more! ‘rti em zagari! oh my! sticks and hunting dogs!
  
Pa mi prûsna zajko, zajko da mi bega And the rabbit started running
si iskinal gagi, razamrsil mustaki dirtied his nose, spoiled the mustache
iskinal dzhamadan, viknal se proviknal:  drank the whole demijohn, shouted loudly:
"more! Nesum mladozhenija!" "Oh my! I am not a groom any more!"

Most of the words came from the Jugoton recording of Alexsandar Sarievski, but those in parentheses come from the Balkanton recording of Kostadin Gugov.


Joe Graziosi’s Arap Avasi from the village of Koimisis (Spatova).

FORMATION:

Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders.

BARS ACTION
2/4The dance.
1With a slight bounce (flex and straighten) on L knee, lift R knee forward and then straighten R knee to extend R foot forward (ct 1), step forward onto R foot (ct 2).
2Repeat bounce-step with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3= 1 (bounce, step R).
4With a slight bounce on R knee, lift L knee forward and then straighten L knee to extend L foot forward (ct 1), turning to face center, step beside R foot onto L foot (ct 2).
5Step in front of L foot onto R foot (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2).
6Close R foot to L foot, no weight (ct 1).
7-8= 5-6 (step forward, step back, close).
  
 Face to R and CCW around the circle to repeat action of bars 1-8 until the tempo increases. With the faster tempo, change the bounces of bars 1-4 to forward hops, and replace the action of bar 8 with:
  
8Face to R and CCW around the circle and step forward onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
  
 Repeat 1-8 to the end of the music.

So what’s the difference between Joe’s Arap and some variations on the Engler/Boxell Arap? Not so much.

    That heel extension into the center now became a heel extension around the circle in the direction of the dance, a change that persisted into subsequent versions of the dance.

    Joe also added that slow-tempo variation for bar 8, reverting to the more commonly noted "step-step" when the tempo increased.


Ventzi Sotirov’s Katerina Moma (Arap)

FORMATION:

Men and women facing to R and CCW around a broken circle. Bend elbows to raise joined hands in front of shoulders.

BARS ACTION
2/4The dance.
1Chukche (raise and lower heel) with L foot and spusek (raise knee, then kick heel forward and down) with R foot (ct 1), step forward and CCW around the circle onto R foot (ct 2).
2Repeat chukche-spusek with opposite footwork (cts 1,2).
3= 1 (chukche-spusek).
4Spusek twice with L foot, bending R knee each time, the second spusek having a deeper knee-bend (cts 1,2).
5Walk backwards, CW around the circle 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6Facing center, jump in place twice onto both flat feet (cts 1,2).
7Step in front of L foot onto R foot, lowering joined hands slowly (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2), turning to face to R and CCW around the circle.
8Facing to R and CCW around the circle, walk forward 2 steps "like a cat" onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2), raising joined hands.
  
9-40= 1-8, 5 times in all.
  
 Finale.
41-42= 1-2.
43Spusek twice with R foot, bending L knee each time, the second spusek having a deeper knee-bend (cts 1,2).
44Walk backwards, CW around the circle 2 steps onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
45Facing center, step in front of L foot onto R foot, lowering joined hands (ct 1), step in place onto L foot (ct 2), raising hands.
46Facing center, leap to R onto R foot, lifting L foot across R foot with sole of L foot facing to R (ct 1), leap to L onto L foot, lifting R foot across L foot with sole of R foot facing to L (ct 2).
  

So what’s different about Ventzi’s Arap? Again, not much. It’s still the same basic dance, and we got to learn a new Bulgarian dance term, spusek. Notable changes include:

    That fourth introductory chukche-spusek became twice as long.

    Bars 7-8 gained hand movements.

    We got a fancy ending.


Toma Karapaunov’s Arap

FORMATION:

Broken circle of men and women; hands joined at sides. Free hands at sides or fingers-forward on hips. Men may also dance Arap as a solo dance, adding the arm movements.

BARS ACTION
  
2/4Introduction: as long as you want. Start dancing with any musical phrase.
  
 Forward. Face to R and CCW around the circle.
1Bouncing on L foot, kick R foot forward with R knee straight (ct 1), step forward onto R foot (ct 2).
2Bouncing on R foot, kick L foot forward with L knee straight (ct 1), step forward onto L foot (ct 2).
3= 1 (kick-step forward onto R foot).
4Bouncing on R foot, kick L foot forward with L knee straight (ct 1), bounce again on R foot, keeping L foot forward (ct 2).
  
 Backward. Still facing to R:
5Run backward 2 steps onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).
6Jump back onto both feet, turning to face center (ct 1), hop on L foot, raising R foot to L ankle (ct 2).
7Facing center, bend over and stamp lightly in front of L foot onto R foot with knees bent a bit and L foot kicked up to back of R knee (ct 1), step back onto L foot, turning to face to R and CCW around the circle (ct 2).
8Run lightly 2 small steps to R and CCW around the circle onto: R foot, L foot (cts 1,2).
  
 Repeat bars 1-8 to the end of the music.
  
 Men’s linear variation: add the following to the above:
1Hold R hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Bend L elbow to place L hand in front of chest, palm down.
2Reverse hands to hold L hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Bend R elbow to place palm-down R hand in front of chest.
3= 1.
4Hold L hand out to side, chest-high and palm-down. Raise R hand overhead, palm forward and arm straight.
5Swing L arm forward and R arm back (ct 1), swing L arm back and R arm forward (ct 2).
6Swing L arm forward and R arm back (ct 1). Hands stay in this position as the body twists to face to L.
7-8As above.
  
 Men’s turning variation: add the following to the above linear variation:
1-4As above.
5Bend elbows to raise both hands hat-high as you turn rapidly once CCW with the 2 steps.
6-8Lower the hands and resume the linear variation.

End of ARAP.