Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ukraine: A Hutsul Wedding, Part III

Here is the third and final installment to the Hutsul wedding video. Parts I and II were posted earlier.

Part I had footage of the rituals that take place in the morning just before the actual wedding ceremony at the church.

Part II had footage of the wedding ceremony and the rituals that precede the start of the wedding reception. It also has footage of the feasting (eating and drinking) and singing during the reception meal.

Part III is of the dance after the meal.

Notes to Part III:

The reception dance began with music and dancing that is the typical fair for weddings in contemporary Ukraine (a singer with a synthesizer who is also a DJ). After an hour or two of polkas and waltzes, etc., began an hour of traditional Hutsul music and dance.

The band of Hutsul musicians took over from the dj, and started up with an arkan. Arkan is a men's dance that is said to have its origins as a Hutsul shepherd's dance. Hutsuls traditionally practiced transhumance, with many of the younger and older, still-able men moving livestock from lowland villages up to mountain pastures for the summertime. The men would spend much of the summer in the mountains with the livestock, coming only occasionally down to the villages. Arkan is one dance iwithin a world-wide genre of such dances engaged in by shepherds as they bide their time watching their flocks.

After the arkan followed some traditional Hutsul couples dancing.

Much of the footage here wasn't filmed by me (I was dancing!) but by my second cousin, who was using a videocamera for the first time. She managed, actually, to take some rather artsy shots!

Watch the people dancing in the big circle in pairs at the back of the hall. This is where you will see some really authentic, contemporary Hutsul dancing in addition to the arkan danced by the men at the start of the clip.

Note on Ukrainian Folk Dancing as Performed Today by Most Ensembles:

What one sees here of the arkan, for example, is how it is really danced. I don't understand why most Ukrainian folk dance ensembles add so many elements to their performance of arkan that are totally foriegn to the real thing. To my mind, a staged or choreographed performance of a folk dance should have the goal of transporting the audience to a real village. One should feel like one is watching real people dancing in a village at some event. (Or if the dance in question originated as, say, a palace dance, then one should feel like one is sitting in a courtroom watching the performance, etc.) The Hungarian and Bulgarian State Ensembles are the best examples of groups that perform in this authentic, village-based style. Most Ukrainian ensembles that I know of are stuck in the character- ballet style that was invented in Soviet times. The arkan, for example, as performed by many a Ukrainian folk ensemble is only loosely based on a real arkan. Much of Ukrainian folk dance performance needs an infusion of a back-to-the-village mentality/approach.

To read a bit more about the Hutsuls and modern-day Hutsulshchyna, or the region of the Carpathians in which Hutsuls still live, read the comments to A Hutsul Wedding, Part I.

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