Even nowadays, traditional dances play an important role in the everyday life of Bulgarians living in their homeland or abroad. Dance styles can vary in a wide range, depending on the region. They differ in rhythm, composition, costumes, movements and the number of dancers.
Horo is the most often used formation when performers unite in a chain, holding each other’s hands, shoulders or belts. In this tight closeness, dancers feel the unifying power of rhythm and their national identity.
Very dynamic dances with duple metre (2/4) which require exceptional virtuosity, especially from male dancers. Their temperamental quality is expressed through shouts at the climax of the performance. Rhythmic patterns are affirmed with dexterity, ease and jumps. Coordinated arm and head movements synchronised with the main steps emphasize their dynamics postures. The “natrisane” movement is mostly characteristic for women. It quivers their whole body from the waist up, making their necklaces, made of coins, jangle to the rhythm.
The Thracian people are strongly connected to their land, which is clearly reflected in their dance style. All steps and kicks are presented with the illusion of feet glued to the ground. Tropoli is best known for stamping the feet to the ground. This typical movement differentiates Thracia from other ethnographic regions. The kaval flute is a common instrument here and is played with high virtuosity.
In the Rhodope mountains, steps are smooth and wide, the movements are accented by strong cheers, especially when men are squatting and kneeling. Men dance heavily with legs wide open. Ladies usually join in a tight circle, dancing with small steps and jumps. Almost without exception, all dances are accompanied by songs without defined metric.
Male dances often contain acrobatic, very emotional, masculine and expressive elements. The female dance emanates sense of power and dignity. They dance mostly to songs with moderate tempo. Male dancers’ rhythm speed up gradually during their performance. Their high steps resonate a kind of willingness for fight, illustrating this region’s rough historical times. Performances are accompanied by the combination of instruments, like the zurnas (oriental flutes with a powerful voice) and drums.
These colorful dances are typically presented in a very free and aerial style expressing their untamed character. This dance contains many jumps, fast leg and diverse hand movements, and characteristic shouts.
People dance with great calm and confidence in Dobrudzha. Joy and stylish sentiment permeate the steps. With the body bent back slightly, thrusting their chests forward, shoulders and hands take essential part in the smooth movements. A Dobrudzhean’s life is mostly filled with farm work, therefore a lot of elements in this dance resemble agricultural labor. For example, female hands’ smooth movements remind us of bread kneading, and men often imitate stacking of hay or harvesting.
All of the Bulgarian folklore regions are represented in the repertoire of the ensemble Jantra. The length of a concert can vary between 7 and 90 minutes.