The Society of Folk Dance Historians
Other Arap documents
Quoting Dick Crum from a posting to the EEFC listserve:
My involvement with Arap is as follows: When the Kutev Ensemble first came to the U.S. (I don't have the date handy - early '60s), I went to N.Y. to see the premiere at Lincoln Center. I knew some of the singers and dancers, and over the next few days there were a number of dance parties and other get-togethers. Two young men in the group (brothers or cousins) were born and raised in a village near Serres (their word was "Sersko"), present-day Greece, but were of Slav (Slavophone-Bulgarian-Macedonian, let's not get into that) ethnicity and had emigrated with their parents to Sofia. They showed us this dance from their native village. It was called "Arap". The music, which one of them played on a gudulka and, on another occasion, on a kaval, was very monotonous, consisting of a 2-measure phrase repeated endlessly (the second meas had 2 accented quarter-beats, a distinct "bam-bam"). They did not sing any lyrics to it. We liked the dance, and I jotted it down.
Not long after that, I came across Aco Sarievski's rendering of "Zajko kokorajko" on a Jugoton disk, and realized that it was the same tune as "Arap". Unfortunately it had the vocal to it, but it certainly was the same melody, so I began teaching "Arap" to it. I believe I first taught it in Boston, where I was living at the time, or New York, in around 1963. My earliest dated notes are from a workshop I did in Chicago in 1964. I was careful to mention that the lyrics had nothing to do with the dance, that it was an unrelated humorous Macedonian song about a hapless rabbit would-be bridegroom. But it wasn't long (you have to have been around in those days to fully understand the then-Balkan scene) people began requesting the words. I sat down and transcribed them and gave them to Ira Gessel, who was at MIT at the time, editing the MIT Song Book. I also gave copies to a couple other folk dancers. Soon after that, people started calling the dance "Zajko" and unenlightened folks began to see rabbit-like elements in the dance, and I imagine some were already seeing pagan fertility ritual origins in it.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1972 I visited the Intersection folk dance coffee house one Wednesday night (regular Balkan night at that time), and at one point heard the familiar tune, and saw the floor fill up with dancers doing a very fast dance to it, totally unrelated to what I knew as "Arap" - the footwork was intricate and in the style of "Ratevka", "Kopacka" or "Berovka", but everybody was doing it. When I asked what it was, I was told "Zajko kokorajko". I'm not familiar with the "Skopsko za ramo" mentioned by some other contributors - maybe that's what it was, although my knee-jerk (excuse!) reaction to that title would be the old familiar lesno as done in Skopje.
I recently saw a video by a Bulgarian teacher named Ventsi, who I believe lives in Chicago. He does a dance called "Arap" which is clearly the same dance I learned from the boys from "Sersko", with one or two minor, expected, differences. Also, the version introduced by Dennis Boxell is essentially the same.
The literal, dictionary, translation of "Arap" is, of course, "Arab"; however, in Balkan folklore the word "arap" or "arapin" occurs frequently referring to an ill-defined, dark-complexioned, malevolent adversary or superhuman being. There is a whole cycle of epic poems about Marko Kraljevic and the "crni arapin".
Given 35 years' retrospect, I should probably not have taught Arap to the Zajko kokorajko recording. Nor, probably, should whoever made up Skopsko za ramo! Some day I may make a second installment to this, reminiscing about the vicissitudes of the U.S. Balkan dance at different periods in its history. It is "folklore within folklore"!
I was Dennis Boxell's teaching assistant at Stockton Camp in 1967 when he taught Arap to the Zajko Kokorajko song. His notes say that the origin is Pirin-Macedonia (no specific source).
I also found syllabi in my files indicating that Dick Crum as well as Gordon Engler had taught it several years previously.
I first saw the multiple-figured dance done to Zajko Kokorajko music at the Intersection in Los Angeles. I learned the dance from Ruby Vuceta who used to teach this dance in Southern California. It had THREE figures (not 5 or 6). It did have a "Berovka" feeling and structure. When I asked her the name of the dance she said, folks here just call it Zajko Kokorajko but the real name is Skopsko Zaramo (shoulder hold dance from Skopje region). I liked the dance but realized it was confusing to people to have 2 sets of steps to the same music. I wanted to teach this dance back east, so I dug into my record collection and found a very similar song "Sto Imala K'smet Stamena" sung by A. Sarievski to Pece's gajda and I remember teaching it at Columbia University in NYC in early 1968. It had a certain success then and some groups still do it. I also taught it in Chicago and other cities East of the Missisipi and I even have written notes for it. I never did find out the original source for this. Was it made up in Calif. or from a Macedonian performing group ? Only Ruby (bless her soul) may have the answer. I agree with Jane Sugarman that the steps are more East Macedonian and don't look like what you'd see in Skopje.
I have found in my Bulgarian book collection and notes several mention of the dance ARAP. Kostadin Ruitchev describes it in "Folklorni hora ot Pirinski Kraj" 1963 and the dance has often been part of choreographed suites for such groups as Pirin Ensemble (Ruitchev was choreographer of Pirin in early years). The dance according to him originates from Serres region (now in Greece). Jaap Leegwater did teach Arap in 1984 and has two nice recordings on his cassette JL 1984.02. One is played on zurna and tapan by musicians from Debren; the second one is by an ad hoc group from the Pirin Ensemble on bitovi instrumenti such as kaval, tambura, etc. Jaap says he learned the dance from Ivan Piperkov in Blagoevgrad in 1975 and later saw K. Ruitchev teaching it at a seminar in Holland. If I remember well, Jaap taught it at a workshop in Vancouver BC a few years back. The dance is very similar from the Crum-Boxell version. The music has that same slow heavy tempo.
The song Zajko Kokorajko is very famous all over Macedonia. The first recording is most likely Alexander Sarievski's (late 50's) on the old Jugoton EPY 3009 accompanied by the (young) Pece Atanasovski on gajda. The record was re-issued in the US for folk dancers on several labels (Festival, Monitor, Mediterranean etc.) Sarievski re-recorded at least 2 other versions with modern orchestras in the 60's and 70's. A collection of Macedonian Songs by V. Hadjimanov, Skopje 1964 has the music and words of Zajko. Hadjimanov says his original source was Todor Boshkov of Skopje in 1955. Boshkov his indeed Vaska Ilieva's father and was well-known as a kaval player in the early Tanec years. It's interesting that Vaska herself never recorded this song (although she often toured on stage with Sarievski). I even have a version of Zajko on Balkanton sung by Kostadin Gugov, a Macedonian singer living in Sofia, Bulgaria.
There is a popular dance in Macedonia called Zaecko, or Zajacko (the rabbit's dance) usually done by men imitating a story of hunters chasing a rabbit. I've seen the dance at several weddings in Pirin and Rhodopes and also staged versions by Tanec and Pirin ensembles. Two versions of the dance are described in G. Dimcevski's book: Vie se Oro Makedonsko, Skopje 1983, one from Skopje region, one from Sandanski in Pirin (also known as Tausan Avasi). I cannot recall ever seeing Zaecko done to Zajko Kokorajko though I remember Dennis Boxell asking me and a few other dancers to "mime" the story to the music of the band and singers for a Koleda Ensemble performance in Seattle in 1967.
Rajko Koukouraiko is not the same melody as Zajko and is widely played in Greek Macedonia (7/8). I did find however on a cassette produced by Dick van der Zwan (Holland) a field recording on floyera of the old Zajko melody. It was recorded in Naoussa Imathia in 1968. There is no mention or info on the dance done to this.
Finally as for Adana, the dance first appeared in 1964 or so when Dennis Boxell and Rickey Holden first toured the US with Atanas Kolarovski (3 Folkraft LP's). Dimcevski in his book says it is a men's dance from Veles. TANEC did perform a stage version of this. Atanas was lead dancer and choreographer of Tanec for many years. The Jankovic sisters describe a dance ADANA in their vol. 3 Narodne Igre and say it is from Rastak, Skopje. I can't tell by the written notes in Serbian if the dance is similar to Atanas/Tanec version.
That's all folks.. thanks for your patience... cheers !
PS: Would be nice to hear comments from such knowledgeable resources as Crum, Liebman, Boxell etc. :)
I just had a telephone conversation with Dennis Boxell this morning regarding Zajko/Arap etc. He confirmed that the song "Zajko kokorajko" has nothing to do with the dance "Arap," and that there is no dance to that song. However, there are "rabbit and hunter" pantomimes and dances all over the Balkans; "Laisios" of Greece is one of these. (Music for "Laisios" is on Dennis' cassette "Greek Regional Dances:Epirot/Thessalian/Vlach/Pontian/Thracian/Macedonian.") Dennis has videos of some of these pantomimes. However, he notes that they generally end with the rabbit getting shot and dying dramatically, legs kicking in the air, not escaping! Regarding his teaching of the dance "Arap," he said that he simply re-taught the dance that Dick Crum had taught a few years before. His main aim was to correct some bizarre aberrations in styling that had developed among the dancers.
The people of Olympiadha in the Ptolemaidha region of central Macedonia most certainly do a dance called Zaiko. In other parts of central- western Macedonia it is sometimes called Zaramo. But it is as the writer of the above stated, a hasaposerviko-cocek-type dance. I'm sure it has other names, too. It is danced to a variety of tunes. I am familiar with what Balkan folkdancers call Zajko Kokorajko and it does not resemble what I have seen in Greek Macedonia.
As to Arap, this word is rarely used to mean an Arab; the most common word for Arab is Aravas. Arap or Arapis usually refers to a black person. I do not know this as a carnival dance from central Macedonia or anywhere else. That doesn't mean that there is no dance by that name done at some carnival celebration. I am not familiar with it. I do know it from the Serres Prefecture. In fact, to date I have found it in at least three different forms. Two of them I have seen and know the music for. The third, a dance of mimicry, I have only had described to me in various villages.
If anyone is still interested in the introduction of Arap to the U.S., Dick Crum taught it on June 29, 1964 at Maine Folk Dance Camp (it says so in the Pioneer Press for that day, and I was there to learn it). This is before the 1967 Stockton Camp, but I don't know if anyone was teaching it before 1964.
>If I'm not mistaken, "kokorajko" comes from the verb "kokori se" which means either "to strut" or "to stare goggle-eyed". It could be either one in this song!
Having seen Jonce Hristovski (of Makedonsko Devojce fame) sing this tune, strutting around the stage with his shirt unbuttoned to his waist, "The Rabbit Dandy" seems appropriate indeed!
There is a dance in Thrace (which region escapes me right now) called Laissios which is a skit of a hunter chasing a rabbit. It has been performed several times both at the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance Festival and I have seen it on videos of village groups in Greece.
Date: 5/7/98 10:49 AM To: Anne Sirota From: Joan C. Friedberg
I think many Balkan regions have dances where the dancers impersonate and play out the hunter chasing after the rabbit. I've seen this dance "skit" in a book on Bulgarian dance, on an Albanian performance video, and possibly also on a carnival performance video from Greece, though never "live."
Thanks Jane. It's interesting to find out how long ago this dance was introduced in the U.S., and that Dennis introduced it. Although in Serres (Greece) the music for Arap is played on zournades and daouli, the recorded music of the tune Zajko Kokorajko may not be entirely inappropriate either, especially if the dance (Arap) is known in other regions. Does not "zajko kokorajko" mean "rabbit kuker?" A 'kuker' would be the same as an 'arap,' that is, both are people who dress up during carnival time in a costume that impersonates either an Arab or an animal. Silly folksongs about animals are popular in Greece and I presume throughout the Balkans. Also, I think many Balkan regions have dances where the dancers impersonate and play out the hunter chasing after the rabbit. I've seen this dance "skit" in a book on Bulgarian dance, on an Albanian performance video, and possibly also on a carnival performance video from Greece, though never "live."
>Does not "zajko kokorajko" mean "rabbit kuker?"
If I'm not mistaken, "kokorajko" comes from the verb "kokori se" which means either "to strut" or "to stare goggle-eyed". It could be either one in this song! The first meaning would translate to "The Rabbit Dandy" (which makes a lot of sense considering the rest of the text); the second would point more to his facial appearance, which could very well have that pop-eyed bunny look.
I dug up an old syllabus of "Arap" from 1968 "Let's Dance." It says the dance was learned by Dennis Boxell in Pirin, Bulgaria at a festival on the Macedonian-Bulgarian border, and "introduced" by him at the Stockton camp in 1967. Since appropriate music was not available, he taught it to "Zajko kokorajko." This is the basic lift-step lift-step etc. version that, I suppose, is known by Balkan dancers throughout the US. It is the fancier, multiple-variation one that seems to have been born in California. As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, the song was made famous by singer Aleksandar Sarievski, and on an album of his that I have the melody is credited to Todor Boskov, while the text is "folk/traditional." TB was Vaska Ilieva's father and the first gajda player at Radio Skopje. He was from a village that is now within Skopje (Cair). So the music is kinda Skopje-style, whereas the various dances we have learned to it are more eastern Macedonian in style.
Well, in Boston a few years ago and when I lived in California. The more experienced dancers used to dance Skopsko Za Ramo behind the Arap line. I don't know if this is the dance "zajko kokorajko". Here are the steps (these are entirely from memory, so corrections are welcome). A few years ago Ira Gessel sent me notes for a version that was different than the one I remember.
The dance is done at "double time" to Arap (in Arap you step on every beat, in SZ you also have something to do on the & counts), so it looks a lot faster than Arap.
|brsh L||X frnt||back||back||back|
* sometimes this is a step, when transitioning from another step.
|back||bhnd L to L||fwd|
* hop when transitioning from step 1
bar 2 as in bar 2 variation 1 except:
|to L||to R|
|L||R||L||R heel R heel|
|fwd||fwd||fwd||to floor||to L shin|
As in variation 2, but leave off counts 3&4& of bar 3
As in variation 2, but change bar 2:
As in variation 1 except add an extra counts 1&2& before bar 1, which is the same as counts 1&2& of count 1.
(taken directly from the MIT song book)
|Storil nijet zajko, zajko kokorajko||Rabbit made a plan, popeyed Rabbit,|
|Zajko da se zheni zajko serbezlija||that he would get married, hotshot Rabbit.|
|si natresol gak'i uprchil mustak'i||He pulled on his trousers, twirled his moustache,|
|nagrnal dzhamadan kapa fishkulija||Got into his jacket and his fez.|
|More, tokmo mladozhena||Hey just like a bridegroom!|
|Mi posvrshil zajko lina udovica||Rabbit got engaged to widow Fox,|
|kitka nakitena maza razmazhena||a flowery bouquet, a spoiled pet,|
|poznata dzhimrijka svetska ispolica||a well-known fussy eater, an avoider of work,|
|more selska vizitarka||the village fussbudget!|
|Mi pokanil zajko kiteni svatovi,||Rabbit invited his weddign party:|
|mechka mesarija vuchica kumica,||a she-bear butcher, a she-wolf godmother,|
|zhaba zurladzhijka, ezho tupandzhija||a frog to play zurla, a hedgehog for drummer|
|oven esapchija murdzho aberdzhija||a ram for bookkeeper, a watchdog weddign crier.|
|Zajko kokorajko||Popeyed Rabbit|
|si natresol gak'i, uprchil mustak'i||pulled on his trousers, twirled his mustache,|
|nagrnal dzhamadan kapa fishkulija,||got into his jacket and his fez.|
|more, tokmo mladozhenja||Hey, just like a bridegroom!|
|Pa mi trgnal zajko niz Solunsko pole||Then Rabbit set off through the region of Salonika|
|da si vidi zajko lisa udovica||to see Widow Fox.|
|Tam si najde zajko mesto lindralija||There Rabbit found instead of a sleek fox,|
|kvachka so pilinja, teshka meravdzhika,||a hen with chicks, a heavy dowry,|
|lichi za nevesta!||it looks like the bride!|
|Koga vide zajko toa chudno chudo||When Rabbit saw this wondrous wonder|
|pa mi letna zajko nazad na tragovi||Rabbit flew back on his tracks.|
|Tam si sretna zajko do dva-tri lovdzhii,||Then Rabbit met with two or three hunters,|
|em oni si nosat pushki sachmalii||and they had guns,|
|more, 'rti em zagari!||and hunting dogs!|
|Pa mi presnal zajko, zajko da mi bega,||Rabbit shot off running,|
|si iskinal gak'i, razmrsil mustak'i||lost his trousers, messed up his mustache,|
|iskinal dzhamadan, vikna se provikna:||threw off his jacket, cried out,|
|More, nesum maldozhenja!||"Hey, I'm not a bridegroom!"|
Arap. A friend of mine who used to dance with one of the Jugoslav State Folk Dance troupes says that Zajko Kokorajko has its own dance and the correct tune for Arap is Što Imala Kismet Stamena. Yet I have on video two old Struga men doing Lesnoto to that tune. Then again lots of Macedonians will do Lesnoto to any number of different tunes.
My recollection from a conversation with Dick Crum (probably about 20 years ago) is that he learned the dance ("ARAP", meaning "Arab") from a couple of guys from Seres.
To teach the dance in the US, he needed music, but the 'proper' music was unavailable. However, the "Zajko Kokorajko" was a popular song in Skopja/Macedonia at the time, so he used that recording. (The song is a humorous one about a rabbit who goes to Thessaloniki to get married; various animals play parts of a traditional wedding. A hunter comes along and all the animals in the wedding run back home.)
I'm fuzzier about the following, but as I recall, Dick said that the tune was proper for the dance, but the words were not traditional, but a recent addition to that tune.
Just as a side note before I type in the words for Shto imala kusmet stamena, The boys from Bouf have a lovely version of Zajko Kokorajko sung as a chochek.
Ok, now the words to the other song, again taken from the MIT song book. interestingly next to the name, is written in brackets "(skopsko zaramo)"
|/ Shto imala kusmet stamena stamena,||Stamena had the misfortune that|
|majka je bolna padnala padnala /||her mother fell sick.|
|/ Majka je bolna padnala, padnala,||Her mother fell sick,|
|posakala voda studena, studena /||she asked for cold water.|
|Stamena zema stomnite stomnite,||Stamena took jugs.|
|/ otide na chesma sharena, sharena /||She went out to the multicolored fountain|
|da napolni voda studena, studena||to fill them with cold water.|
|/ vo selo oro igrale, igrale,||In the village they were dancing an oro.|
|na tanec mladi stojane, stojane /||The leader was young Stojan.|