I’d Rather Be Dancing Kosovan Folk Dances

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In the 4th century B.C., there existed a Kingdom of Dardania in southeastern Europe. In the 1st century B.C., it was annexed by the Roman Empire, and then by the Byzantine Empire. For centuries thereafter, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantines for its control. By the 13th century A.D., it was part of Serbia. Then the Ottoman Empire took over.

When the Ottomans were defeated in the Balkan Wars, Kosovo (as the Dardanian kingdom came to be called) was ceded to Serbia and Montenegro. Both those countries joined Yugoslavia after World War I.

During the latter part of the 20th century, conflicts arose between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serbian populations, resulting in war in 1998-1999. Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. It is surrounded by Serbia to the north and east, northern Macedonia to the southeast, Albania to the southwest, and Montenegro to the west. Its area is 4,203 square miles, with a population of approximately 1,800,000.

Because of its Balkan location, Kosovo shares aspects of its culture with its surrounding nations, including its folk dances.

Ajšino Oro is one that we dance at Phoenix International Folk Dancers:

Aškali Gajda is danced with a shoulder hold. The leader twirls a red cloth:

Kalač is an interesting dance in multiple meters. It starts out with men and women in segregated circles which eventually merge:

Karafili is similar to a Greek Syrtos:

Šilovačko Oro:

Ženska Šiptarska Igra was originally a women’s dance:

Vallja E Gjilanit reminds me of Aškali Gajda but with leg lifts. It appears to be a men’s dance. Many Kosovan dances are similar to this one:

Shota and Rugova:

There are bits of five dances in this video, and I don’t know their names. Comments on YouTube said a dance was Albanian, and the costumes Macedonian, but since they are bordering countries, it’s not surprising there would be some crossover. My guess is that this was filmed at a Kosovan festival. You’ll want to be sure to watch to the end–there’s an exciting sword dance:

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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