FOLKLORE (dances, games) INTRODUCTION Folk choreography is a part of folklore and it is as original as all nation‟s folklore is original. Folk choreography is the creative work of the people where artistic images are created by rhythmical movements followed by vocal or instrumental music. Folk choreography as well as other branches of the folk art has always been closely related to the mode of life, work and customs of the nation. Since ancient times the dance has been inevitably accompanying all important events in the life of the people. The life of the Lithuanian nation, its character and morals are reflected in the content of Lithuanian dance. Every movement and step has it purpose. They always mean something or show something. It is even the slightest change of mood that can expressed by movement of the dance. Dance movements are subjective; visible expression is based on emotion. Dance originality is being formed by methods of expressions under the influence of geographic surroundings, clothing, relationships with other nations, racial characteristics and so on. By creating a dance, people without realizing it creates beauty as well. Dances distinctiveness depends upon the originator as well - whether it has been created by man or woman. Lithuania has basically been an agricultural country; therefore folk art primacy belonged to women and was related to the scale of feminine themes (for example, works done by women only). This of course had influenced the lexicon of choreography - for example simplicity of steps was influenced by the women‟s long skirts. The characteristics of the Lithuanian folk choreography are also shown through music, which is calm, symmetric, the rhythm is monotonous, the tempo moderate and in the quarter form. Lithuanian folklore is based upon the farmer‟s outlook on life. It is lyrical, there is no epic narration, in war songs the actual battle is never sung about, and there are no war dances left. No hunter dances have survived either and in folk choreography there are no movements left typical on this theme. The first information about the art of Baltic movement appeared at the end of the IX century. The traveler Vulfstan wrote that it was no doubt about the Balts played during funerals. Later chroniclers and travelers mentioned that Prussians and Lithuanians played and danced; some of them even stressed the dance‟s character. Up to XX c. dances were documented only occasionally and only fragments of the dance description could be found, most often only the name of the dance and its mood were mentioned. All the dances during this time period were recorded in narrative style, not a single one was recorded with music, steps or movements. For the most part from these recordings one could only reconstruct the character of the dance or the image of the form. The situation hardly changed throughout the whole of the XX century if compared to the description of song folklore and song‟s book printing. In addition, starting with the middle of XX century two completely separate genres had been formed in Lithuania which in the West had been understood as folk choreography. (A new genre emerged which was stylized one, designated only to the stage author‟s “folk dance”, which is created by professional choreographers, using a special music written by a professional composer specifically to that purpose an adopting the name of old traditional dance and its ideas). The genre of the traditional folk dance is still alive. People used to learn dances from parents or grandparents whose lives have been still greatly influenced by customs and traditions and who mastered dancing folk dances directly from their parents in outdoor country parties. Folk ensembles, who still participate in folklore collection expeditions in rural areas willingly dance these dances.
Lithuanians, as well as their Baltic neighbors, have always loved to dance. Young people gathered to dance in field parties (in summer), or in farmer houses (in winter). Older people and small children also took part in these festivities talking, socializing, and generally amusing themselves. Looking still further back into the history, dance was also a part of ancient Lithuanian calendar celebrations and rituals. Lithuanian folk choreography can be classified into four groups: polyphonic singing dances, ring or circle dances, games and other dances. Polyphonic singing dances (Sutartinių šokiai). As mentioned earlier, sutartinės are unique archaic polyphonic songs. About a third of these songs have accompanying dance elements. The movements are quite simply and easy to perform. Three or four women perform a circular or quadrille type dance as they sing. [Example “Šokinėjo ţvirblalis po pievų”] Ring dances, circles (Rateliai). The number of participants in such a dance is unlimited. The dancer themselves sing the lyrics without any instrumental accompaniment. Stepping around in a circle, the participants perform various movements which sometimes illustrate the song‟s text. But usually, these are just simple movements repeated again and again: linking elbows and turning, weaving circles, and other figures. Ring dances have several forms: simple circles [ex.”Pasėjau ţilvitį”, “Graţus mūsų jaunimėlis”, “Verdu bulvienę”], double circles, rows [ex.”Esu dailiai išmokyta”], bridges [ex. “Upytėlė teka”], chains and gates. Circles are typical for: unlimited number of participants, accompaniment by participants singing the song themselves, and during one part of the music the dancers walk a simple step or execute actions in place. The circle dance‟s metrorhythmic structure as well as text is commented on. There are several forms of circle dances: the circle, the circle with a center, double center, lines, bridges, chains, gates and variations of these forms. The forms themselves are older than the circle. Comparisons of various types of dances show that circles with the same content often differ from one another. Games (Ţaidimai). Dances-games are rarely sung, and when they are, they do not follow strict rhythmical patterns. These game hinge on creative improvisation, spoken text or dialogue [ex. “Šarka”, “Ţvirblis”], and the performance of “tasks”. Some types of games are quite similar to ring dances [ex. “Katinas an pečiaus”]. The following characteristics are typical of games circles/dances: the text does not necessarily need to be sung, singing doesn‟t necessarily have to match the rhythm, free improvisation, the text or dialogue is followed by action or task. Like circle dances games similarly are divided according to their form or are of a free form. Dances (Šokiai). These dances are accompanied by instrumental music and sometimes singing as well. Separate pairs dance in loosely structured form space while only group follow a large plan. Dances consist of consecutively repeated movements, steps and figures. Lithuanian paired dances [ex. “Šokinėkit, berniukai”, “Kiškelis”, “Gudo dūda”, “Pjoviau šieną”, “Drailinas, “Anės polka”, “Grečinikė”] of specific steps and movements differ very little from those of neighboring countries. Lithuanian group dances, like “Našliukas”, “Polka keturinė”, “Noriu miego”, “Malūnėlis” are based on paired dances too. However, the character and the spirit of our dances is unique. Even foreign dances which made their way to Lithuania (i.e. Krakoviak, Latrišas, Aleksandra, Vengierka, Lelenderis, Valsas, Kadrilis and others) acquired many new variants and
distinctive characteristics. Judging by names of dances it is apparent that Lithuanians borrowed many dances from their neighbors, however, these dances gained new features and were danced in a different manner; some movements were changed. Lithuanian dance is characterized by inward great emotional energy which is never manifested externally. Since traditional Lithuanian lyrical folklore originated among farmers and peasants, it still retains their outlook. There are no war or hunting dances, no high jumping or kicking. Lithuanian traditional dances are dominated by subdued ring dances and games whose lyrics center around growing crops and livestock or relations between young people and match making. Dance music has a moderate tempo, is usually symmetric and without large interval jumps. Staged art is constantly looking for new forms, new means of expression. This include staged dance. Staged dance is not only influenced by Lithuanian neighbors, but by general cultural environment as well. Folk dance is being constantly created anew, it moves out from the sphere of the mode of life as onto the stage where it is meant to be looked at. The choreographer and his personal outlook on life plays a large role here because he takes on creator‟s “producer” function and the public audience remain only as “users”, mostly passive. Concert programs are constantly in demand for new dances, which are created by individual choreographers, however continually moves away from the folklore tradition. The staged dance is becoming more important in the community and such dances are often referred to as folk dances but actually they have been losing their creative communal principles. Folk choreography objectively remains as an aesthetic value, but many professionals look at it as of lesser creative value. They rely mostly on their own generalized cultural background. Therefore a large number of these dances are thought-up and only their titles that are taken from folk dances that remain. Folk dances about the mode of life are being replaced by popular dance. As a reaction to such choreography pure folklore ensembles have been started to be organized who cultivate folk choreography, but don‟t solve this problem. Classical dance mannerisms have been infiltrate into the staged dance mainly because the leaders of dance groups have been taught the classical dance. Classical dance as a method to train dancers is being used as a means of expression thereby it is becoming the main criteria for evaluation. Staged dance‟s tempo has become faster, technical elements have become more difficult to perform. Because of this the dance expression suffers, as well as exposure of content and the relationship between dancers. Recreated and transplanted onto the stage folk dance gained a new quality and its purpose changed. The question about the enrichment of the dance has been seriously raised - should it be supported by it‟s own resources or should choreographers borrow from others all the best that has been discovered and created. Music is an issue too. It is often written by professionals; there are no typical folk song elements or repeated refrains, the meter is mixed, the duration is varies and there is no symmetry. The new music is remote from folk dance music traditions. Because there are few researchers of folk choreography the direction of evolution depends on practitioners. Naturally in Lithuania staged dance forms of expression are chosen according to individual taste. For this reason foreign elements infiltrate, national color disappears, the cultural remembrance of folklore dies. There are plenty of groups of both genres: about five hundred folklore groups, whose members sing, dance and play games that are inherited from their grandparents and about five hundred of the stage dance ensembles. Representatives of both genres organize various festivals and gatherings, local and international, and participate in international festivals in Europe and all over the world if the group can afford it financially. The groups also participated in World Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival (about 35000 participants) Folklore Day. Compiled by Eugenija Venskauskaitė
Vaikų žaidimas „Katinas ir pelė“ Children‘ game „ The cat and the mouse“.
Šis ţaidimas yra azartiškas, reikalauja sukoncentruoto dėmesio ir reakcijos. This game is very actine and busy. It requires a lot of attention and fast reaction.
It is a popular game in the evening parties and other entertainments. The movements illustrate the text, which is sung. At the beginning all the players make a big circle. The music consists of two parts: the first part is slow, it consists of 6 bars, time 4/4; the second part is , it consists of 4 bars, time 2/4; the melody of four bars is repeated as many times as wanted. 1. A circle (6 bars)
1-6 bar “ Mouse, mouse was running in the house while the cat was sleeping „
All dancers in a circle are turning the circle round in some direction (one step every crotchet). 1 figure
2. Catching the mouse ( 4 bars )
1-4 bar „ The cat is so bad because he can„t catch the mouse“
The player who is the „cat“ tries to catch the player who is the „ mouse“.
I SOWED A WILLOW Pasėjau ţilvitį It is a widely spread circle in Lithuania, danced in couples. There are various variants of the texts and ways of dancing the circle, but the most common elements are a circle and weaving a willow, or a circle and turning round having joined by arms. Here we are providing the descriptions of both elements.
The sequence of the circle The even number of dancers stand in a circle, take each other by hands in a simple way, and find partners. 1. A circle (8 bars)
1 - 8 bar “I‟ve sowed a willow in the father‟s garden”.
The dancers in a running step every quaver merrily turn the circle to the right .
1 figure 2. Turning around, joining arms
“Vai tu ta, vai tu ta, in the farther‟s garden”.
1-2 bar: the dancers let their hands free and standing in the same place, six times clap their hands every quaver.
(8 bars) 3-4 bar: the couple of dancers join right arms and turn round in a running step in the same place .
5-8 bar: the dancers once again repeat the text and movements of 1-4 bars, but now the couples turn round, joining by the left arms in the opposite direction. 1. A circle (8
1 - 8 bar
The dancers in a running step
every quaver merrily turn the circle to the right .
“I‟ve sowed a willow in the father‟s garden” 2. Weaving a willow (n bars)
1 - n bar ”Vai tu ta, vai tu ta, in the farther‟s garden”
The dancers in a couple turn to each other and start weaving a willow, giving each other in turn right and left hands every bar (the palms of the hands, bent at the elbows, touch in the height of the boosom). The dancers run around in a circle weaving a willow (3 figure), and passing the dancer, coming from the opposite direction, either though the right, or through the left shoulder, before again meets with his original partner.
JOUNG PEOPLE ARE NICE Graţus mūsų šeimynėlė It is a popular circle in the evening parties and other entertainments. The movements illustrate the text, which is sung. The circle is danced in couples. The music consists of three parts: the first part is slow, it consists of 8 bars, time 3/4; the second part is calm, it consists of 4 bars, time 2/4; the third is livelier, time 2/4; the melody of four bars is repeated as many times as wanted.
The sequence of the circle All couples stand in a big circle and join hands in a simple way.
1. A circle (8 bars)
1-8 bar “Young nice people gathered today. The merry host (hostess) is sitting by the table.
All dancers in a circle are turning the circle round in some direction (one step every crotchet).
1 figure 2. Clapping and stamping (4 bars)
3. The weaving of the willow, saying hello (n bars)
1 bar “with the hands…”
The dancers stop, let their hands free, and turn to the centre of the circle.
2 bar ” …pliaukš, pliaukš,”
Everyone claps their hands twice in front of them.
3 -4 bar “ with the legs taukš, taukš”.
Singing dancers are standing in the same place, and in the 4 bar they stamp one or another foot.
1-n bar “Good morning to you, to you, good evening to you, to you” 2xn.
The couples turn to each other and start weaving a willow, giving each other in turn right and left hands. This way they go round the circle, passing each other in turn round their right and left shoulders, untill meet their partners.
The game originates from the East of Lithuania, Panevėţys region. A Cat Was Sitting On A Stove Katinas ant pečiaus sėdėjo The game is very lively, cheerful and suits for kids of different age groups. The dance is developing kids‟ nimbleness, reaction.
The sequence of the game The kids are standing in a tight circle, so that there are no gaps between them, facing the centre, and holding their hands behind their backs. One player is standing close to the circle, and holding something like a towel or scarf, wrapped tightly in his hand. 1. Standing in a circle (8 bars)
2. Running afterwards and beating
1 - 8 bars “ A cat was sitting on a stove, had a mouse in his mouth” 1 - 8 bars The players are singing:
Standing in a tight circle, all kids are singing. The one, who has a scarf, goes round the circle, and secretly gives it to anyone in a circle, pretending that nothing has happened, he goes round the circle further, till the text of the song is finished. Then he stands into a circle. The one, who got the scarf, starts beating his neighbour on the right. The latter starts running round the circle to his place, and the one who beats him, is running afterwards.
(8 bars) “They will beat a cat, without looking where” When the beaten player is back in his place, kids start singing and playing from the beginning. Now the scarf round the circle is carried by the one, who has been running afterwards his neighbour. Kids play until they are bored.
I WAS TOUGHT NICELY Esu dailiai išmokyta
It is one of the numerous variants of “Audėjėlė”(“ Weaver”). The variant, which is provided here very clearly illustrates weaving with loom.
The sequence of the circle The circle is danced in couples. Boys and girls stand in rows one in front of another, and the distance between the rows is 1.5 m. In the rows the dancers join hands in a simple way low. In the ends between the rows two more active persons are standing and acting “the shuttles” (1 figure). 1. Coming closer and moving away (8 bars)
“I was taught..." "..to weave nicely”.
1 - 2 bar: the rows come close to each other, when the dancers step six simple steps forward. The “shuttles” are standing (2 figure). 3 - 4 bar: in six simple steps back, backing, the rows are moving away from each other. 5 - 8 bar: the text and movements of the 1 - 4 bar are repeated.
2.Weaving (8 bars)
1 bar: standing in the same place, the dancers clap twice, and the “shuttles” quickly run to the other end between the rows, passing each other through the left shoulder (3 figure).
“tapu, tapu, “
2 bar: boys‟ and girls‟ rows come close to each other in big steps and the couples join both stretched hands (4 figure). “Shuttles”, having run between the rows, remain in the opposite ends.
3 bar: the couples in two quite big steps turn half a circle against the Sun in the same place: the girls change sides with the boys (4 figure).
4 bar: the dancers of the couples, having changed sides, let their hands free and alingning in the rows, backing, move away from each other in two big simple steps (5 figure). “Shuttles” remain standing in the same places.
5 - 8 bar
The text and movements of the 1 - 4 bar can be repeated once again: boys and girls, having changed sides, come back to their original places, and the “shuttles”, having run between the rows, pass each other again and come back to the same places, where they have been in the beginning of the element.
Afterwards the circle is repeated from the beginning , singing the same or other stanza: “The shuttle is shuttling merrily, It is not touching the thread. Pykszt pokszt, tapu tapu Pupu pupu, klepu klepu.” Note: “shuttles” can change, i.e. stand in the ends of their rows, and from the opposite end other dancers can take their place. The couples would then be changing. The dance originates from the East of Lithuania, Švenčionys region.
I WANT TO SLEEP Noriu miego This dance is spread in Lithuania, and in every village is danced in a different way. The melody has two text variants. For kids we are proposing the following variant: “ I‟ve been sowing the rue, I‟ve been sowing the mint”. Most often the movements of the I stanza are repeated many times. Hereby we are providing a little bit more expanded variant, originating from the North East of Lithuania. The dance is danced in couples, and some parts in fours. It is better, when the dance is danced by an even number of couples. The music consists of two parts, first containing four bars, the second containing eight bars. The time is 2/4, tempo is moderate. The main step of the dance, which in the description is called “I want to sleep” was danced by the village people in very different ways.
The sequence of the dance The couples of dancers for the I stanza stand in a row in fours: one couple in front of another couple, and two neighbouring fours are backing one another, as shown in the I figure. The hands of all dancers are on the waists.
1. The step “I want to sleep” (4 bars)
“I‟ve been sowing the rue, I‟ve been sowing the mint”
Jump in turn: before the bar the dancers stand up with both feet and jump a little. 1 bar:”one-and” - softly jump down on both full feet: the right foot has to be put forward and the left foot has to be put in one foot‟s distance back; the weight of the body is on both legs; “two” - a pause, “and” stand up with both feet and again jump up. 2 bar: repeat the movements of the 1 bar, but now, having jumped down on both legs, the left leg is put forward, and the right leg is in one
foot‟s distance back from it. 3-4 bar: repeat the movements of 1-2 bar twice faster and finish with a jump. Hard springing step: 1 bar: ”one” - jump on the right foot, and stretch the left foot, tense at the knee, forward with the toes (or with the heel) on the ground; “two” - a pause; 2 bar: repeat the movements of the 1 bar with the other leg. 3-4 bars: “one” - jump on the right foot, and stretch the left leg, tense at the knee, forward with the toes (or heel) on the ground; “two” repeat the movements of “one”, jumping in the same place onto the left foot; “one” - to repeat the movements of the “one”, jumping in the same place onto the right foot; “two” - jump (i.e. jump on to both feet in the same place).
Published on May 15, 2011