DANCES OF LAKOCSA
(JOLAN BORBELY, 1973)
Lakócsa (Lukovišće), with its 1,200 inhabitants, is situated on the left of the river Drava, in the south-eastern corner of Somogy county, Hungary. It is the center of an 'island' of Croatian nationality people in Somogy and Baranya counties, comprising of eight villages. The other villages belonging to this group are Potony ( Potonja), Tótújfalu (Novo Selo), Szentborbás (Brlobaš), Drávakeresztur (Krstur), Felsőszentmárton (Martinci), Révfalu (Drvljanci) and Drávasztára (Starin). This closed ethnic community lived isolated from the surrounding Hungarian settlements, and even from their counterpart Croatian nationality ones, on the other side of the river Drava.
The settlement's beginnings date back to the Árpád era in Hungarian history. The village belonged to Zselic Abbey's estates. It became depopulated in the 16th century, probably after the fall of Szigetvár to the Turks. Today's people may have been settled after the Turkish rule of Hungary in the 18th century, most probably from the bordering areas of Bosnia and Croatia. The Lakócsa "kaj" dialect differs from the other seven settlements' "sto" dialect. The language of Lakócsa people correlates to the one of Zagorje, lying to the east of Zagreb.
The inhabitants of Lakócsa lived in big families, following the traditional farming and family structure patterns, which did not change much even well after the abolition of serfdom. The traditions were intact until the First World War. Only after the war did the big-family structure and the farming pattern break up. Language, traditions, folk dance and attire were well preserved by the middle-aged and the elderly after the Second World War. But, with the radical changes that swept through village life, the decomposition of old-style farming cultures accelerated in the last two decades of the 20th century. Today, the conscious preservation of traditions is the dominant way to keep the values of the Croatian nationality culture.
The dances of Lakócsa can be grouped into four categories.
A/ Closed circle dances (zatvorena kola) are danced in a circle. They are performed solely by ladies, who sing all through the dance. They are ceremonial dances, always connected to an event, such as Easter or a wedding. The basic step is a tripodic (three-beat) walking motif drifting to the left, while the circle moves slowly to the right. Vuzmeno kolo and the wedding circular dance are the Croatian counterparts of the Hungarian girls' circular dances from southern Baranya.
B/ Open circle dances (otvorena kola) are danced by both men and women in a semi-circle, which never closes up. The kolo moves slowly to the left, sometimes ending up in a spiral. The open kolos are led by two male dance leaders. Being an integral part of all parties, these dances used to be the most important entertaining type of kolo in Lakócsa, comprising drmeš, križanje and the stamping kolo. When it wasn't for the sung version type, the music was played by a tamburitza or a bagpipe. The open kolos are based on small steps, consisting of vibrating, stamp and heel-click motifs. Body movement is restricted, variability emerging through the rhythm rather than in plasticity.
C/ The mixed type dances, when the open kolo is mixed with couple or solo dance, are less typical of Lakócsa, and are most probably quite recent ones among the dances of the village. They start with the usual chain formation, which, during the dance, changes into solo or couple dance. For instance, in the newest trend of križanje, the chain dance is finished off as a partner dance (Sakajdo), while the boot-hitting one is characterized by the hands-joint format of a chain kolo, when the vibrating, or heel-click motifs alternate with free-style, soloistic, boot-hitting motifs.
D/ There are only sporadic instances of show-style solo and couple dances. We know of some examples of solo-style stick or broom dances of swineherds, but these are copied from the Hungarian dances of Somogy county. The wedding couple bottle dance has identical roots both musically and stylistically with the boot-hitting and the swineherd ones. Sakajdo initially used to be a playful couple dance for children.
When the bagpiper began to play at parties, some men started the dance coming up in the middle of the room, putting their hands on their shoulders. After doing a short kolo dance, they invited the girls, who joined beside their lovers. Those, who did not have a partner yet, placed their hands on the shoulders of men. The kolo grew and grew as more and more couples joined. A man did not leave a girl even if she was not his type, but the girls occasionally stood next to a man who had already had a partner. The latter provided an opportunity for some mocking cries during the dance.
The two kolovods – that is, dance leaders - at the two ends of the open kolo do coordinate the dances and oversee the order of the party's whole. Being the best dancers, they act as safe-keepers of the pool of motifs, and the community accepts their conduct and aligns with it. The dance party structure, which means the order of motifs and the length of each part, depends on the actual mood and skills of dance leaders. Their leading role predominantly influences the dance of men, who copy what is shown. The leader on the left takes the main part. He determines the form of the dance as well as the change of motifs.
The kolo always began with small vibrating steps, and women's movements solely constitute of these steps. After the vibrating motifs, the men start varying the motifs. Sarcastic rhymes uplift the mood.
Šogorica ti debele glave,
Ne fačaj se u kolu preda me.
Šogorica visoka i tanka,
Ima noge kaj ražena slamka.
My big-headed woman rival,
Don't come beside me in the kolo.
My rival is tall and thin,
Her legs are like the stalk of rye.
The leaders dance more and more vehemently, so the whole of the kolo gets fired up. Only the women keep the stiff posture, but the men bend more and more while stamping. The kolo moves slowly but constantly a bit to the left. If the crowd is quite big, the dance leaders wind the kolo in a spiral around the piper standing in the middle to get near the musician. After a while, when "Širi kolo" ("Pull the kolo!") is announced, the leader on the right starts directing the other half of the kolo towards the center, so those, who were outside could also get near the piper. When "Pod noge" ("Under the foot!") is announced, the last of the dances, the beloved križanje, starts. Rivals shout their rhymes back and forth at each other by the rhythm of the new dance.
Ako nisem od nikoga bolja,
Od tebe sem, šogorica moja.
Šogorica nisi niti bolja,
Crkla pukla još bu dika moja.
Even if I am not better than others,
But I am better than you, my dear rival.
My rival, you are not better either,
Your lover will be mine.
After the križanje, the kolo breaks down into couples, and the dance cycle finishes with the sakajdo.
Newer kolos spread among the youth at the expense of traditional, locally originated dances. They were danced only occasionally, appearing for the first time after the First World War in Baranya county and between Duna and Tisza. These kolos were brought in by Serbian soldiers. The so-called village dance movement expanded the popularity of these new dances in the 1950s.
The high-motion vigorous kolos, consisting of simple, running, jumping steps, require dancing skills to a lesser extent than the small-step, old-type vibrating kolos. In addition, they can be used more effectively on the stage, due to their spatial attraction. They move in a large space, and not just along an arc, having no definite direction. Such dances are eg. the Vranjanka, Pačići, Srbin, Ciganka,Kukunješće, , Hopa-cupa, Kuvarice, Logovac.
These dances reached Lakócsa only by the end of the Fifties, through ethnic teachers from the other parts of the country, guest-starring South-Slavic ensembles, and instructors. In the dance of the youth, the local, traditional kolos are replaced by these dances.
Dance music has also transformed in recent decades. After the First World War, the tamburitza band gained an increasingly important role alongside the bagpipes. In the Croatian villages of Somogy county, Kovacsevics István manufactured the first instruments in the 1920s, taking a model produced in a Yugoslavian factory. He made lovely tamburitzas resembling a turtle's shell, first in Felsőszentmárton, later in Lakócsa in 1928. They are still in use today (prim, second prim, viola, counter and bass tamburitzas). The tamburitza and the bagpipe lived side by side for a long time. Attempts were made to adapt the old bagpipe melodies to tamburitza, which instrument gradually took over the role of the bagpipe. The tamburitza band often played their music while standing in the middle of the kolo and was danced around in the same manner as the bagpiper used to be. Bardek József, the last bagpiper of Lakócsa sold his bagpipe made of dog skin in 1958. We know of only two active bagpipers in the Croatian villages of Somogy county (Potony and Drávakeresztúr). Although bagpipers still live in several places, the lack of an instrument means that the old dance music eventually dies.
1. VUZMENO KOLO – EASTER CIRCLE DANCE
This kolo is attached to a special event. It is a ceremonial female circle dance accompanied by singing. On the Saturday evening following Good Friday and after the Easter mass, teenage girls accompanied by women walked around the village singing a song. The Easter circle dance was performed by them at large open spaces in the village, at the edge of the fields, and both ends of the village.
It is the only one of the dances of Lakócsa that is danced in a closed circle, with hands lowered or crossed in front of the waist. It consists of an endless repetition of a single motif. The symmetrically structured tripodic that is three-beat 6/4 duration step (two to the left, one to the right, see motifs No.1-6) is colored by minor individual variants only. The circle moves slowly to the left, in a clockwise direction. The important role of the song in this Easter circle dance is shown by the fact that the dance is accompanied by several related melodies ("Vuzmene pesme"), which are used only this time of the year (see melodies No.1-4). These melodies join through many stanzas. Their performance is lengthy due to the ancient line and stanza repetitions as well as the choruses. 4, 8, 10, 11 and 12 syllable lines are repeated in the two- or three-line, simply structured, short verses.
The Easter circle dance songs are always performed in two voices, in thirds, and the leading voice is sung in a high, splitting head tone. The course of the solo and choir alternation, typical of Slavic circle dances, in the case of the Easter dance in Lakócsa, is as follows: the sharpest-sounding pre-singer always begins each stanza. After a beat or two, the second singer joins in, and the two of them sing the verse through. The choir repeats what has been sung, and in some places, the performance becomes polyphonic. The melodies of the Easter kolo are connected like a garland. Each verse and song is sometimes finished off by lengthened sharp cries with a ♫ ♩ rhythm.
The Easter circle dance is slow-paced and solemnly ceremonial (Mm. ♩=70-88). Even and odd rhythm types alternate (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4) within each line of the short two-lined melodies. Alongside the slow pace, the heterometry in itself gives the impression of a rubato performance. However, a 6/4 tripodic step is danced for the melodies with alternating meters, which generates a specific polymetry between the tune and the dance. This creates an arrhythmic impression, as the rhythm boundaries of the dance and music nearly never align with each other, but when they do meet, it happens by pure coincidence. The ancient lyrics of the Easter circle songs are of lyrical, epic or ballad nature. One of the main Easter circle dance lyrics is about finding a partner. The natural symbols of another epic song (deer, moon, sun, rain) might refer to the customs for season changes, the solstice, and the agricultural rites for invoking rain. The time for the application of the Easter kolo and its solemn ceremony is linked to the spring walk around the village, and the lyrics suggest that they represent a local remnant of the spring agrarian rites and related fertility beliefs that still exist in the area of Pannonia (Hungary). The musical, poetic and dance features of the Easter kolo correlate to the old layers of Croatian kolos.
2. WEDDING CIRCLE DANCE
The ceremonial wedding circle dance, accompanied by singing, is formally identical with the Easter kolo (motifs No.1-6). It is performed three times during the wedding.
2.1 The bride's girlfriends visit her house, bringing rosemary branches while singing and embracing. This happens on the afternoon of the day before the wedding. Wreathing is done by 7, 9 or 11 girls dressed in a rukave and a red apron. By placing the rosemary leaves on a plate, the bridal wreath was made while singing. When the wreath was finished, they left it on the table and performed their circle dance around it. The event was closed by dinner and a dance party.
2.2 The second time for the circle dance during the wedding ceremony is when the gate of the bride's home is opened for the guests. This happens after a joking bargain taking place in front of the groom's wedding people. The bride holds on to the door jamb and lets people in under her arm, welcoming them with a kiss. In the meantime, the bridesmaids try to steal young men's hats to place a posy on the hats, which later should be redeemed for money. The most ornate and expensive bouquet is the best man's one, who needs to redeem it together with the farewell wreath. This is when the bridesmaids perform their circle dance around the best man, singing "Ko u kolu deveruša".
2.3 When the bride is ready, the best man accompanies the groom to meet her and leads both of them to the laid table, on which the wreath had previously been prepared. The wedding guests dance a short kolo, interrupted by the best man's toast, followed by the song "Prva čaša al divojka naša" ("First glass, but the girl is ours"). The dance, toast and song are repeated twice more, but the first line of the text is always modified (Druga čaša, then Treća čaša). Then, the whole of the dance order is performed around the table: drmeš, stamping kolo and križanje. After that, a mixed circle dance follows, danced by men and women holding hands and singing "Ovila se bela loza, oko rastiča" (No.4-5). This is also sung three times around the table, then the circle is broken, and the front of the chain moves away from the table towards the door. Guests line up for the wedding procession, and the crowd sets off for the ceremony. The wedding circle dance is formally identical to the Easter circle one for the first two instances; however, it is modified to some degree in the third round. Men also join the dance, and the closed circle is transformed into an open chain at the end of the dance. The Easter songs are replaced by wedding party ones in each case, of course. The ceremonial nature of the circle dance is shown by the fact that in all three cases, it is connected to the bridal wreath and to saying goodbye to being a maiden (wreath creating, redemption, bride solicitation).
3. VIBRATING KOLO - DRMEŠ, DRMAŠA
Drmeš is a mixed-gender open kolo, with grip at the waist or on the shoulder, accompanied by instrumental music. It is danced in a semi-circle or in a circle, which is broken in one place. Under the guidance of the kolo leader (kolovod), the chain moves slowly to the left. Standing in the middle of the kolo, the bagpiper enhances the dancers' mood through his music and his vibrating movements and rhymes. The semi-circle is often pulled in a spiral form by the kolo leaders.
A series of repetitions of a single vibrating motif constitutes the whole process, together with numerous individual variations. The basic step of the dance is a simple, vibrating, stepping movement (motifs No.23-24, 34-37, 41-44, 57-60), and this is followed by the structurally and rhythmically more advanced tripodic (three-beat) versions (motifs No. 7-13). These latter ones are linked to the structurally similar tune of drmeš (tune No.8). Some skillful dancers occasionally enrich the dance by heel-clicking and stamping motifs (motifs No.14-22). The vibrating motif plays a significant role in all other dances as a starting, resting or even an intermediary step and is the exclusive step of women dances. A good dancer, according to women, is someone quite good at vibrating. Vibrating gently, twice during a quarter of a rhythm, requires excellent dancing skills and loads of practice, which is usually begun as early as a child.
Earlier all of the dances of Lakócsa were solely accompanied by the bagpipe, so the bagpipe tunes represent the old versions of instrumental dance music. Drmaša could be danced the best for the music played on a leather bagpipe, so this instrument is considered its proper accompaniment. The tunes of Drmaša could only partially be transformed for tamburitzas. Therefore, with the decline of bagpipe music, only a few melodies were saved by the popular tamburitzas. As a consequence, the dance was increasingly pushed to the background. One of the two cited drmeš melodies (melodies No 8-9) is a tetrapodic kolomejka melody, usually followed by a tripodic version. The tempo of drmeš is Mm ♩=144-168.
Drmeš used to be the favorite dance of older generations. It was always positioned as the first one in the order of dances, thus implying its ancient roots. It could also keep its first place at weddings, when it was ceremonially performed around the table following the solicitation of the bride. It was also danced occasionally during the wedding procession, when the crowd frequently stopped while proceeding through the village.
It was only occasionally danced at balls or pub parties, namely when some elderly frequented these places. Sometimes "u sitno" cries could be heard where the old were present, referring to a call for the vibrating drmeš. It was the unique dance for the elderly at carnival bagpipe balls, simply because it was the all-time favorite of the old. One day was allocated to the old during carnival, when the outdated bagpipe served them to enjoy the old kolo melodies and perform the vibrating dance.
Križanje is an open-chain dance of women and men holding each other's waist or shoulder. It moves slowly to the left, occasionally curling into the shape of a spiral, led by the kolo leader. Its structure is more advanced than that of drmeš. The vibrating step is danced as a lead-in (motifs No.23-27), and it also pops up later as a resting step. Then the 3-step variants follow (motifs No.28-32), which serve as the backbone of the dance. Some of the better dancers add heel-click and stamping (motif No.33). Whereas drmeš is described by formula A or occasionally AA, križanje can be described as AB or ABC. Križanje's position in the old dance order was the last one, that is, the third dance, following drmeš and the stamping kolo. The end of the dance starts when the chain is disintegrated, and couples begin dancing the so-called sakajdo (compare with the Hungarian words: szakajtó, szakító). Sakajdo is a popular twirling game of couples played on the meadow. A girl and a boy turn to the left with three steps while facing each other, holding their right hands, singing the rhyme below:
Sakajdo, sakajdo, sakajdiše,
It’s gonna rain,
Old sieve and the trough,
This children's game, having common motifs with križanje, got built-in among the dances of Lakócsa as the only couple dance and developed into križanje's finishing off part.
Its melodies were easier to be adapted and played on the tamburitza than those of drmeš. Therefore, it is still widely danced. Its tempo is Mm. ♩= 168 (melody No.9).
5. KOLO, STAMPING KOLO
It is an open-chain dance of women and men holding each other's waist or shoulder, moving slowly to the left led by the kolo leader, and occasionally curling into a spiral. Its formula is AB. The initial vibrating steps (motifs No.34-38) are followed by stamping ones with simple and advanced variants. These make up the backbone of the dance (motifs No.39-40, 53-56). Most of the melodies played on the tamburitza are connected to this dance (tune No. 10). These melodies are highly varied and consist of several parts. The tempo of the kolo is Mm. ♩= 152-168.
It used to occupy the second place in the old dance order, between drmeš and križanje, and is the most popular dance of Lakócsa's inhabitants, though it became the first one with the ousting of drmeš. Thus, the party often began with kolo. Skilled dancers jumping to the middle of the room started with the stamping kolo as the music began. Men especially loved dancing it during wintertime in the pub while wearing a clog. Its popularity can be attributed to its being greatly variable as for rhythm and it being a longer dance than the others, so it is often asked for a re-run. It has an immense role at a wedding. During the wedding procession, it is danced either by couples or by some people lined up beside each other while holding each other's waist or shoulder. When the procession stops for a while, the stamping kolo is the choice for dance, too.
6. BOOT-HITTING - TUCAT U SARE
The boot-hitting dance used to be a mixed-gender kolo, but it developed into a male group dance through time. An open kolo with a shoulder grip alternates with non-defined, solo boot-hitting parts. It did not even have a defined place in the dance order. It developed on the spur of the moment from the stamping kolo, which is related to it both from the point of view of music and motifs. Being the most complicated dance with loads of bravado, it occasionally popped up as the last dance of the party. Having been transformed into a male dance, it also became a show type one.
Fast, 2/4-beat-kolo melodies accompany the dance played on the tamburitza, Mm. ♩= 160-176. Most of them are kolomejka-rhythm tetrapodic melodies, but their unity is frequently broken by longer than four-beat melodies triggered by the irregular, arbitrary repetitions of two-beat melodies.
This dance has the richest set of motifs and the most advanced structure of all the dances of Lakócsa. In addition to the vibrating, stamping and heel-click motifs characteristic of other kolos (motifs No. 41-65), the highly structured boot-hitting motifs of varied rhythm occur only in this dance. Consequently, it differs from all other Lakócsa dances and the south-Slavic dances of the Balkans.
The dance is made up of alternating two different dance stages. In the introduction and resting stage, the defined characteristics of chain dances prevail with shoulder grips and small, simple vibrating, stamping and heel-click steps. The central boot-hitting part, without any handhold, is characterized by the freedom of male solos. The boot-hitting dance of Lakócsa has emerged as the by-product of the contact between the pools of Croatian and Hungarian dances. Two different structural principles prevail within one dance, and the merging and the peculiar fusion of the Balkans and the Carpathian Basin genres can be observed.