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Dances in couples

Central European influences are most obvious in the couple dances (mazurka, valcer, polka, schotisch, siebenschritt, rašpa, štajeriš, furlana, palaisglais) in north-western, northern and central Croatia, and in Istria and the Gulf of Quarnero region.

These dances are also readily recognisable under their local names in part of mountainous Croatia and in some more eastern - Pannonian - and more southern - Adriatic - regions. The couples move through the dance area in an anti-clockwise direction, while the rotations of an individual couple are done in a clockwise direction. These dances sometimes have a dance-leader or caller. If he does not lead off as the first dancer, he stands in the centre of the dance area without a partner and calls out the commands that the couples follow in their dancing.

Despite the fact they were not readily acceptable to the older generation, the couple dances mentioned became part of Croatian dance repertoire in the second half or end of the 19th century, and in the first decades of the 20th. Dancing is almost always a form of entertainment, although sometimes these dances, too, could have ritual characteristics - e.g. the waltz is often the first dance of the newly married couple at weddings. The bride is also expected to dance a lot and with verve to show that she is capable and that she has stamina ("so that it could be seen that she was not lame"). Dancing with the guests also brought her material gain, since everyone who danced with the bride had to pay for the privilege. The polka and the waltz were danced often because everyone knew them.

It is interesting that some of the Central European couple dances were adapted to the older traditional layer and to the tendency towards dancing in the circle, so that they could also be seen in such performances.


Source: HrvatskaZora.com


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