Collections: Elsie Dunin - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Organized Dance Group Repertoire and Unrehearsed Dancing in Macedonia (1988, 1989)

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Members of KUD (Cultural Artistic Group) perform beginning "march" of Rusalii dances holding wooden swords. Sekirnik village, in Strumica area, Republic of Macedonia ("former" Yugoslavia), 1988. Image © Elsie Ivancich Dunin.

Organized dance group repertoire and unrehearsed dancing in Macedonia, 1988 is a video record of dance repertoire from throughout the republic. The documentation was completed by Elsie Ivancich Dunin and Stanimir Višinski (Станимир Вишински) between 1988 and 1989. A part of the recorded material was subsequently used as data for a book of the professional Tanec Dance and Music Ensemble in Skopje, published in 1995 as Dances in Macedonia–performance genre: Tanec Ensemble.

Throughout Macedonia in 1988, there were at least 111 organized dance performance groups of which 93 were contacted and interviewed. Dancers who were active in performance groups were also the active dancers at social events when spontaneous dancing occurred. In addition to recording the organized performance repertory, the local-area participatory dances were videotaped. The visual record therefore included the practiced and performed repertoire as well as dances that were spontaneously danced during Macedonian social events (such as weddings). In addition demographic data was collected from each group with a four-part questionnaire: information about the group, the director, the performed repertoire, and a listing of the dances done spontaneously at weddings in the local area.

Recordings were made at the convenience of the group, usually during a regular rehearsal, so that the dancers danced in regular clothing rather than performance costumes. There was no preview or practice prior to videotaping, and low wattage lighting or small rehearsal spaces sometimes made it difficult to make an ideal video record. Official sanction from the national and republic-level cultural parliaments along with support from the Folklore Institute Marko Cepenkov in Skopje provided Dunin and Višinski with a direct link to leaders of dance groups. An NTSC camcorder with long-play rechargeable batteries was used to record full-length dances with accompanying music. An Apple Macintosh computer provided a means to create a database of the demographic and repertory documentation.

Significantly the video record of dances from throughout Macedonia was completed within a window of time that preceded Macedonia's political independence of communist Yugoslavia. This video collection is a historic document of Macedonian cultural identity expressed through dance and music at the dawn of turbulent political changes at the end of the 20th century in southeastern Europe.

This collection is peer reviewed and available online in the EVIA Project Archive.

Image © Elsie Dunin

Elsie Dunin is Professor Emerita (Dance Ethnology), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and dance research advisor with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research (IEF) in Croatia. Dunin is also active with the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) Study Group on Ethnochoreology and with the Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (CCDR) in Arizona. Her research focuses on the relationship of socio-cultural changes with the continuities and changes in social dance events. Studies have taken place in Macedonia among both Macedonian and Romani populations; with the Croatian diaspora in California, Chile and Australia compared with source emigrant areas in Croatia. Professor Dunin is author, editor, and compiler of numerous publications.

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