Many factors determined the development of the Northern Dance in order to reach its nowadays form. The way of its development has been long and complex. Having in mind that our nation is jealously guarded its traditions, we can assume (although we have no direct evidence) that the Northern Folk dances are crystallized based on the culture of the Thracians, Slavs and other tribes came on our land in particular historical period and were in contact with each other.
Northern Folk dances are outlined mainly as a mixture, in which most of the players holding hands as they oscillate freely and widely. There are dances where grip is waist-belt, and there are some where dancers are not holding.
Typical for North Bulgaria are "Lesite" in which the dancers are caught in a short dance number in the grip of belt, a front or back guilloche pattern or hand. The Northerners "zatropvat" (quicken) horo dance right after the first or second turning, soothe it, sasitnyat (quicken) it, soothe it again, etc. The Northerners play very lightly with confidence and humor.
Dances from North Bulgaria are generally marked as stylish Bulgarian Folk dances. Movements are concentrated mainly in the legs and are springy. Participation in the dance has also the head and the body. In some Northern dances with grip and without grip arms participate actively, giving genuine coordination with the movements of the legs.
A typical feature of the stylish Northern dances is the great freedom and ease of their implementation.
DANCES OF NORTHWESTERN BULGARIA
This part of Northern Bulgaria is bordered to the West with Serbia, to the North with the Danube River, East with the Iskar River and South with the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Typical of Northwestern Bulgaria are "sitnostapkovite" (small steps) folk dances in size 2/4. Small steps gave the name of several dances – "Sitnitza", "Sitna", "Sitna stareshka", "sitnoto" and many others. Several others with fine pure construction are with other names – "Osmistsa", "Shira", "Buni kolec", "Majkata", "Metroto", "Chush merdjan".
Typical performance style of dances from Northwestern Bulgaria and especially those of region near Danube river is "natrishaneto" – any over rhythmically springy legs and shoulders in all types of grips . Shoulders "natrishaneto" is transmitted to the arms and whole body . Performing fast "natrishane" the body becomes like a vibrating membrane. Performed freely, spontaneously, as a natural expression of inner tension and exultation of the game, it gives specific liveleness to the local dances. In Northwestern Bulgaria are also typical dances in size 2/4 with wider and larger movements such as "Rakovata", which has been quite spread – in Lom , Byala Slatina, "Ivankinoto" of Montana and others.
Dancing in size 5/16 with second long share are distributed in all their diversity and variability – "Paydushko", "Kostenski", "Kostenski chetvorno", "Kaima" ("Kaimiya"). The wide spread place has ratchenitsa in the 7/16 with a long third share, mainly in short-chain – "na lesa" ("na prat") performed by men, women or mixed – "Chekurlana", "Potrupanka", "Zhikino", "Chekuryana", "Tarambich", "Tsintsirish". Grips are belt, back guilloche pattern and hands with bent elbows. Everywhere ratchenitsa is played and "na same" (privately) with the typical northerner ease.
The lightweight jump game of "Daichovo" horo dance in size 9/16 with a fourth longer share is very common for all Northwest Bulgaria. There are mixed horo dances and there also some performed only by men "na lesa".
"Grancharskite" horo dances in size 9/16 with a second long share are played mixed in holding hands or grip belt, mainly in Vratsa, Vidin and others.
Especially loved are "Gankinite" horo dances in size 11/16 with third longer share – "Sharenoto" and "Sakovitata" of Vratsa, "Tsibarsko" from Kraydunavieto (region near Danube river), "Gankino" of Pleven and others.
In some areas of West Stara Planina were played, so called "torlashki" horo dances and games. They are one of the oldest in the settlements in Montana.
As the main features of the stylish dances from Northwestern Bulgaria we can mention "small steps", "natrishaneto" and "ease game". The specific "natrishane" is limited geographically to a narrow strip of Kraydunavieto (region near Danube river). As we move further east, strength and tension of "natrishaneto" gradually decreases. "Ease" game is a typical sign of stylish dances from Northwestern Bulgaria, as occurs in all areas.
DANCES OF NORTH CENTRAL BULGARIA
Central North Bulgaria is bordered to the west by the river, north with the Danube River, East with the Yantra River and South with Northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Many of the dances of Central North Bulgaria Stylistically, in many ways are similar to those in Northwestern Bulgaria. In northwestern Bulgaria dominated dance in size 2/4, whereas here the variety is bigger.
Dancing in Central North Bulgaria can be considered as the Danube plain dances and Dances from the foot of Balkan (mountain Stara Planina) and the Balkan (mountain Stara Planina). They have the relevant similarities and differences.
DANCES FROM THE DANUBE PLAIN
Folk dances of the Danube plain are performed freely and widely. Dancers from this region "fly" like wind and their free oscillated hands supplement that feeling. Dance movements are wider, simpler and lighter. Horo dances as "Eleno mome", "Daichovo", "Svishtovsko" and many others belong to them. Particularly common are the "Paydushko" horo dance played in various versions of men, women or mixed.
As in Northwestern Bulgaria, in this region we can also see horo dances in size 2/4, which are very diverse in structure and degree of difficulty – "Sitno majko", "Sitnata", "Vlashkata", "Oreshalskata", "Chush merdjan", "Hai naliavo, hai nadiasno" and others. The strength and tension of "natrishaneto" gradually decreases as it appears more in the Danube settlements.
Very common here are the so-called "rachenichni" horo dances performed in different variants in 7/16 with third longer share, often played and "po same" (privately), playing with much confidence and humor. There are also "Cherkezkite" horo dances in size 9/8 with a fourth longer share (so called "devetitsa"). There are also played variations of "Gankino" horo dances in size 11/16 with third longer share.
DANCES FROM THE FOOT OF THE BALKAN AND THE BALKAN*
The geographic and climatic conditions in this region are different from these in the Danube plain and they have marked the image of local dances.
In Predbalkanski region (the foot of the Balkan) – Dryanovo, Sevlievo, Lovech and Veliko Tarnovo settlements dances are wild, bouncy, and combine in themselves the wide free movements typical of the dances from the plain – "Gradishtensko", "Ovchata", "Baba Donna chushki tapche", "Hlevensko" and many others.
In the Balkan region (Gabrovo, Tryavna, Troyan) folk dances are performed more static but with diverse and complex movements. The dances were performed in stack-yards and balconies. They have elements of Thrace and Northern dances and from the plain, which leads us to consider them for a transition between dances of North and South Bulgaria.
Although not very often but there are "sitnostapkovi" (small steps) horo dances in 2/4 size. Widely distributed are "Paydushko" horo dance in size 5/16 with second longer share – "Liavata", "Aylashkata", "Paydushko", "Liava igra na dve strani."
Ratchenitsa is performed mainly in shorter chain dance – "na lesa" in 7/16 with a longer third share ("Kamenchovata", "Angelchovata", "Ablanishkata", "Vartianata", "Kutskinata") or "po same" (privately) with the typical Bulgarian improvisation ability. There are also horo dances in 7/16 with a longer first share ("Deniovoto", "Yakova", "Sevdoninata") which are obviously of later origin due to the development of craftsmanship.
Both in the movements of the legs and in hand movements it is missing the breadth and the liberty of dances from Northern Bulgaria and the Danube plain.
*BALKAN – Stara Planina mountain