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Berace

Having done a preliminary, pilot-study survey of the dances of the Florina region, I have found a great deal of ambiguity in the names. For example, Pusteno (Slavic) and Levendiko (Greek) refer to the same dance, but Pusteno also is a generic name for other dances in the republic to the north. Berance, Berace, Bairatse, et al. seem (judging by the music) to refer to the same dance, but I haven't been able to confirm this. The dance called Gerondikos (Greek - old men's dance) may be the Florina variant of this dance, but its step pattern is closer to Levendikos than Berance. This dance is also called Starkoto (Slavic - old men's dance). There are dances by the name of Beratis, but these are different dances. One of them is also called Beratiko. Therefore, in answer to your question, I would venture to guess that Bairatse is the way Greek speakers would pronounce Berance, and there may not a translated Greek name for this dance. (All of these mean "from Berat," a town directly west in Albania.)


The dance Z"ensko Beranc"e/Bajrac"e was introduced in Chicago by Pece Atanasovski at the 10th International Folk Festival, November 1972, & again by Pece in 1982 and 1992. The late Stanimir Vis"inski, co-author with Elsie Dunin of the book on Macedonian dances, introduced very similar version at the 1986 Seminar in Macedonian Folklore in Struga. I also have a video of the group "Kosturc"anki", a group of women all originally from villages around Kostur/Kastoria, in Aegean/Greek Macedonia dancing yet another version. Despite the slight difference (in the timing of the weight shift in the second beat of the second measure) among the three, it is clear that they are all the same dance, differently interpreted. All of these sources also point to Kostur/Kastoria as being the source of this version, even if some antecedant version may have orginally come from or named for the Albanian town of Berat. Thus, I would conclude that the dance, Z"ensko Beranc"e/Bajrac"e is/was known in the Macedonian region of Greece.


A footnote to N o v i c a 's note: I have heard this dance called both Beranche and Gerontikos in Edessa, Aegean Macedonia, where I've danced it to a raucous brass band. The latter is the Greek name which means "old man's dance." [I taught it, BTW, at the same workshop in NYC in 1971 at which Marty Koenig taught Nestinarsko, topic of a different thread.]

The dance I learned as Beratis is from Epeiros and has a peculiar rhythm I hear as S-Q-S (Rickey Holden describes it as Q-S-S, and Wouter Swets was music consultant for Rickey's book). Best wishes, David Henry folkthings@msn.com


I think Zensko Bajrace is just a stage choreography of the Sta Dhio-like 12/8 dance that folks in Kostursko called Bajrace or Berace. Probably in the village the first two women in line sometimes did a kind of duet thing at the head of the line, and that got stylized into the version taught by Macedonian instructors. This is a very common thing in south Albanian dancing from areas near their village (cf. Devollic,e), but not so common with Slavic communities outside that area. I think "Zensko Bajrace" was collected from women who came to Skopje from the NW part of the Kastoria/Kostur district after the Greek Civil War (1947). Many Slavic speakers in that area fought on the Communist side, partially in the hopes of gaining language and cultural rights, and then were forced to flee when the communist side collapsed. Their villages (D'mbeni, Sm'rdes, V'mbel, etc.) were destroyed and they cannot return to Greece even to visit--that is why you wouldn't find their local dances done there now. There are many of these families in Skopje, and they have their own amateur performing groups. So their dances and songs have been disseminated through the folklore group circuit to many other groups and their instructors. Joan Friedberg, do you happen to know what the Slavic name was for the village Flambouro? I don't know the Greek names, but I might know something about the dancing if I knew the old name.


As John Kuo says, "Zensko Berace/Bajrace" is from Kostursko. I believe the Kosturcanki, or women somewhat older than them from their same villages, were the source of the various more choreographed versions taught by Pece and others over the years. As I saw the Kosturcanki dance this recreationally at Aegean picnics, it was essentially what Joan Friedberg described as "Beratiko": like Sta Dhio but danced in something approaching 12/8. Kostursko Slavs call this Berace (or, in Skopje, Bajrace); Albanians from Prespa dance the same dance as Berac,e. There are slight differences in timing of weight changes between the two.

As for the three-measure Berance or "Pusceno," I heard it called both Bufskoto and Armenskoto by Aegeans in Skopje. These names refer to the villages called Buf and Armensko by their Slavic-speaking inhabitants. Aegean musicians used the word "Pusceno" to refer to a slightly different dance in 11/8 (32222) from Mala Prespa (in Greece); there is a family at the Macedonian church in LA, from near Prilep, who do a similar dance.

Calling a dance Beratc,e (dance from Berat) doesn't in any way mean that they actually dance that way in Berat! I don't know *how* they dance in Berat--it could answer a lot of questions! Other examples: Kicevsko is a dance from Bitola, not Kicevo; Staro Tikvesko is from Stip, I believe, not Tikves, etc.


Levendikos is a term coined by the Greek musicologist, Simon Kara, which has replaced the term "Pushteno", used by the Florina natives who do the dance. Having listened to and danced to local musicians it seems that the predominant meter is 17/16. This can best be broken down to 2+2, 3, 3, 2+2, 3. This can also be described as 5 major pulses with the understanding that the lengths of the pulses generally following the pattern above but they vary depending on the performance moment. For example the 3rd pulse is often stretched with a corresponding shortening of the last pulse which so that the stretch does not slow down the measure.

The same tunes which the Florina musicians will play in 17 will be played in the more northernly areas in 12. (For example compare Dafino, Vino as recorded by Skopje musicians to that as recorded by the Tzambazis band form the "Florina" LP, produced in 1995). They still have the 5 pulse per measure but the lengths feel different. The general pattern of the 5 pulses will be SQQSQ (slow and quick). In the north the slow = 3 and quick = 5 while in Florina the Quick = 4 and the slow = 3. In Florina the Quicks made of 4 beats will sound like 2 + 2. This will often give the feeling of hearing QQSSQQS (2+2, 3, 3, 2+2, 3).

There is also a difference in the feeling of the rhythm. The Florina 17 "Pushes" while the northern 12 has a heavier feel, i.e. a heavy down beat on the 1st and 3rd pulses. This also corresponds to a difference in dance style. Florina natives will push and stretch the dance more than most Int'l Folkdancers are used to, in both the first and especially the third dance measures. Hence, when American folkdance revivalist bands play "levendikos' as a strict 12/8 as they believe it to be it becomes uncomfortable to perform the dance in the style of the Florina region.

Note that with the 3 Albanian villages in the region the term Berache is used for a specific melody in Florina, also called Startsko, Yerondikos or teshko. The ethinic albanians of Florina refer to the dance itself as Beratche (But done in 2 measures) while the ethnic Macedonians refer to the dance as Pushteno (hellenized to Lytos for Levendikos) (done mostly in 3 measures).


Yes. The Beratis in a slow 8 (3-2-3) is from Epirus. The Beratis (or Beratiko) I heard (and recorded) in Flambouro (Florina) is a tune I later recognized as the Albanian tune "Goranxe," to which Albanians do an incredible dance where the men fall all the way to the floor like dominoes and come up again. The Albanian version of the tune is in 7/8.

The Flambouro tune was played in 12/8. When I first heard it, I thought it was another melody for Levendikos, but the villagers did the Sta Dio-type dance I described earlier. I was told the name was "Beratis" by one of the villagers, and later acquired a performance video where this same dance is announced as "Beratiko." Incidentally, I'm told by Joe Graziosi, as well as the woman I met in Flambouro, that there is a large diaspora community from this village who live in Rochester, NY. Does anyone on the list have access to this community?

> >Well, it could have been the Beratis from Flambouro, Florina, also called Beratiko. This dance has a step pattern similar to Sta Dio, but the ryhthm is 12/8. Where did you see it? Was it a performing group or villagers dancing?

>Is there more than one dance called Beratis? The one in our village is done > to a slow 8 (3+2+3) rhythm.


> Where did all the Flamburiotes go? To Rochester NY , that's one place. A large segment of the Greek community there is from Flamburon/Negovan - they refer to themselves, at least to outsiders as "Epirotes" and still speak Albanian among themselves. The surronding ethnic Macedonian population calls them (in Greek) "Skipitarides" (pl) which of course is based on their own word for themselves (unlike the albanian speakers of south Greece who call themselves arberor/arvanites).They dance what they called "Beratis" or "beratikos" ie Berache and it is the same as that done by the Prespa Albanians in the Chicago wedding video Jane Sugarman shot. They know and recognize the "Puscheno" ,but as being a "Macedonian" dance, a specialty of the Bufcani who are numerous in upstate NY (and Detroit and Toronto). The melody most associated with the Beratis/Berache is also known and played as such by the surronding Macedonians but is danced as a 3 meas slow Puscheno.

> As far as names are concerned the terms "Bufsko" and "Armensko" are certainly known and used by Macedonians throughout North America but everyone I've asked also recognizes the term "Puscheno" (or its Hellenized equivalents Lytos and Levendikos) as the generic term for the dance in question. What they called it a 100 yrs ago I don't know. Recently in Greece, the word Puscheno has begun appearing in a few publications and recordings along side Levendikos/lytos : eg the Dora Stratou CD 20 Macedonian Dances, the LP "Florina" co-produced by Yanni Constandinou, himself a native of Armensko/Alona. Even V. Papachristou in a recent book on the dances of Florina uses Puscheno in parenthesis and this from a man who in a previous book on Greek dances made the spurous claim that the term Puscheno which he first heard while visiting Florina in 1964 and which struck him as ugly and offensive was the invention of the younger generation and that the oldest inhabitants of the village had always called it by the Greek name Lytos. Oh again back to the dance Berache someone also indicated they thought it was no longer performed in the Kastoria/Kostur region because the native Macedonians have all "left". Not true, there are still "Macedonians" throughout the region, though the language has very much been in decline. Also the dance exists among Greek and Vlach populations south into the Voion Mt regions here, depending on place and tune , known as Beratis, Lotzia, Simbethiariko, etc. Unlike the 2 meas Berache of Florina and Prespa areas which starts both measures with a touch or lift this one from Kastoria south starts the measures with a step (in either case the dance starts with the left leading)