Saturday, 6 March 2010
Czechoslovakian Folk Dance Book
I was browsing in a second-hand bookshop in England (as is my wont) when I came across a wonderful little book on Czechoslovakian folk dance. Not only does it contain some lovely colour plates of dancers (such as those shown here) in local folk costume, but also musical and dance notation. This was a book published "under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Dancing and the Ling Physical Education Association" and its aim therefore was to get the reader dancing.
The author - Mila Lubinova - also talks about the context and origin of the dances and their regional variations. The Kalamajka (shown directly above) comes from our part of the Bohemia with another form present in Slovakia. Also from our neck of the woods is the traditional sword dance , in which the dancers are linked by the swords held at hilt and point and never let go throughout the dance's complicated windings. Unlike in neighbouring Germany and Austria the dance kept its village roots in Czecho, together with its attendants dressed as fools or in animal masks. This dance is particularly performed with the arrival of spring (sometimes at the Czech carnival - Masopust). As for the music to the sword dance, a few melodies from the 15th century survive in manuscripts from the Zlata Koruna monastery, only a few kilometres from our home.