After a year of living in Bulgaria we realized we had failed to share with you all about an amazing part of Bulgarian culture that we absolutely love!! That is:
This type of dancing is a very important folk tradition in Bulgarian culture that is still widely practiced today. The closest American equivalent we can think of would be comparing Horo dancing to line-dancing where large groups can dance together in a line (as opposed to dancing in pairs) using a series of organized steps. While we can do our best to describe Horo dancing through writing, you really must watch it (and perhaps dance it) yourself to fully understand this dance form. If you have a moment I highly recommend doing a quick Youtube search for “traditional Bulgarian Horo dancing” and watching a few clips (such as this one HERE) to experience this beautiful form of folk dancing!
Of course some Horo dances have very simple steps, while others are quite complicated. The hardest part for us is that while most dances in America are composed of 3, 4 or 8 beat patterns, Horo is danced in mixed-meter which means the step pattern is a mix of 2, 3 and or 4 beat patterns. Even as musicians the counting takes a bit of time to get used to.
Here in Bulgaria, most students learn at least some of the basic versions in regular school as a part of the their gym class and many of them will also attend after-school lessons at local dance studios. You will often see Bulgarians dancing Horo together at events such as weddings, annual festivals, or just in local Bulgarian restaurants when they have live Horo music playing. Of course there are also many trained professionals who give performances and participate in Horo competitions around Bulgaria complete with full Bulgarian folk costumes.
We have had the opportunity to learn some of the basic versions of Horo at various places this past year and one of our goals for this year is to improve our Horo dancing skills 😀!
Naturally when we learned that the “Horoteka” (aka dance party) in Ruse was happening, we immediately knew we wanted to go!! We had no idea what to expect, but did know that it would be a great opportunity to learn more about Horo and see lots of trained dancers in action!
The Horoteka was held at the local Arena here in Ruse and people of all ages came out for the event. Many were members of local dance clubs and a few wore traditional styled Bulgarian clothing, though no one came out in full costume.
We were hoping that they would take some time at the event to teach those of us who were beginners but alas we soon realized that this event was more for those who had lots of dancing experience to dance together, show off, and even compete a bit.
Thankfully some of the dances they did were the more basic versions of Horo so we were able to participate a few times and then enjoyed watching the rest of the evening.
Every time we witness Bulgarians dancing together, we are amazed at how well people of all ages and walks of life are able to come together and dance in such a beautiful way! We love seeing the joy on their faces as they dance together and I think perhaps part of that joy comes from sharing in something together as Bulgarians that is unique to their country that they can truly call their own.
We made a brief clip that you can watch HERE. Unfortunately we don’t have any videos of us dancing but we will try to make that happen in the future ☺️!
We had such a wonderful time experiencing the Horoteka and we hope to attend one again but with more dancing experience so we can more fully participate in the Horo experience!