And tap, and tap, and tap…
With the left foot to the side. And again!
The circle spun. Dance and movement are older than speech. Stronger than humans. The circle is a magnificent ring of power, strength, masculinity, and shouts. The circle is round and grand. Firm and unbreakable. Like an oak. That sacred tree. Among the Greeks, it is Zeus’ tree, among the Romans, Jupiter’s, among the Germans, Donar’s, among the Scandinavians, Thor’s, among the Celts, Dagda’s, and among the Slavs, Perun’s.
“In Ireland, the druids celebrated that tree,” Patrick said.
“Among us Slavs, the priests,” Miloš said.
“Come to my village Alora, near Malaga, and you will see how we dance,” Pedro must have already heard the sounds of flamenco in his head at that moment.
“You don’t know what dance is until you learn the haka!” The strength of this ritual pagan dance from New Zealand that Tarara mentioned could already be sensed through his nostrils.
Miloš stepped forward in front of everyone, dressed in traditional men’s folk costume consisting of opanci (sheepskin shoes), knitted woolen socks, trousers, a hemp shirt, and a vest embroidered and adorned with antique silver and gold coins, sometimes even small flags. On his head, he wore a round cap with the Serbian coat of arms embroidered and tassels that fell far onto his broad back. Judging by his appearance, it could be concluded that he was often in the forest, and cutting trees was not unfamiliar to him. Behind him stretched the wide field of Glamoč.
“You see, this is Glamoč field. This is where the famous ‘Glamočko Deaf Dance’ originated.”
“There was no music? No one knew how to play?” Pedro tried to make a joke.
“And we often dance without music,” Patrick said.
“Yes, you are known worldwide for that,” Tarara’s comment seemed to have a hint of competitiveness.
“Yes, our dance had to focus only on our feet, so that the enemy wouldn’t discover how we dance. Our hands remain fairly still while dancing. You noticed that while enjoying The Lord of the Dance performances,” Patrick wanted to convey the essence of the famous Irish dance to his new friends.
“I don’t understand, my friend, why are the hands still in your dance?” The history of dance was always an interesting topic for Miloš.
According to one legend, under English rule, the Irish were prohibited from any form of entertainment. To hide and dance in pubs, they only tapped their feet without moving their upper body. That way, they deceived the English officers who patrolled in the evenings, trying to catch any violations,” Patrick was clearly researching the origins of the movements in the famous Irish dance, which sometimes creates a greater impact on the audience through the force of foot strikes on stage than the music itself.
The beauty lies in the harmony of the dancers, in their ritual dedication to the dance. It seems that since ancient times, people have had the need to unleash a force with every strike on the ground. Through the dance and movement, they connect with the earth and its magma, its life juices, and bring forth life. Without movement, we couldn’t be born, but also couldn’t die.
“But why is your dance called ‘deaf’ dance, Miloš?” Pedro asked, persistent in seeking answers like the Little Prince who must receive a response.
“Our dance was a dance of selection, a place where the future wife was chosen. And for these regions, it was important that the woman be strong, capable of working, not talking. The movements in the dance are demanding, difficult, and exhausting. The one who remains the last in the circle and endures all commands is the healthiest, strongest, and most capable of facing all the challenges that life brings in these barren lands. I must admit that I am proud of my heritage, of our dance, as it has been chosen as the most beautiful dance in Europe twice and has been on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 1982.”
“We have been on that list since 2010 with our flamenco. I am actually from a village where a special type of flamenco was nurtured, not a silent dance, but at one point, hand and foot movements take the forefront. Flamenco is not a circle like Glamočko, but in the power of movement, it reminded me of some elements that were discussed in the seminar today. Folklore is a powerful thing, and I think it’s a great idea to meet here this year, Miloš, to learn something new,” Pedro expressed his thoughts.
“Why is it called flamenco?” Patrick was curious.
“One explanation is the connection to the flamingo bird. And perhaps also due to the Phrygian mode. Interesting theories exist, providing fields for exploration,” Pedro mused for a moment as if projecting new encounters dedicated precisely to the etymology of words.
“And what attracted you to our gathering, Tarara? I must admit I was curious to meet you when I saw that someone from New Zealand applied and was willing to fly such a distance for Glamočko’s silent dance and its beauty,” Miloš had to voice his thoughts.
“I was just waiting for someone to ask me that,” Tarara laughed widely, revealing a beautiful row of teeth. He was a young Maori, a member of the “All Blacks” rugby team, who performed the traditional haka dance before every match.
“I saw haka for the first time at a basketball game in 2014, Serbia versus New Zealand. I must admit, I was a little scared,” Miloš admitted.
“Haka is not just a war dance used solely for intimidating opponents. It can express respect towards someone, and it is often performed to welcome esteemed guests. Like in your case, haka is performed not only by men but also by women, although women more often have the role of accompanying vocals, while men are responsible for powerful rhythmic strikes on the ground,” Tarara explained.
“Yes, that strike on the ground seems to be a common element in all our games, dances, and circles, regardless of the differences among our traditions,” Pablo summed up, as he was responsible for drawing the line.
“And to draw the line,” Pablo continued, “why did you come all the way to Glamočko field?”
“To visit my grandmother,” Tarara calmly replied.
“What?!” all three guys exclaimed simultaneously.
“My grandmother, Marija, lives not far from Glamočko field, in Donji Proložac, in Croatia, to be precise,” Tarara answered in Croatian, laughing.
“Please explain,” Miloš managed to speak in Serbian.
“Well, Tarara means Croat in Maori. My last name is Petričević, as you can see in my application. In the 19th century, Dalmatians settled in New Zealand, fleeing poverty caused by Austro-Hungarian rule. They married Maori women, worked in the kauri gum fields, and there you have it…” Tarara continued his story in English.
“Ole!” they all exclaimed in unison.
Circle, circle, silent and without words…
EXTRA INFORMATION ON THE TOPIC:
The Glamočko silent circle dance has radiated with masculine strength and feminine beauty since ancient times. It has been declared the best European circle dance twice and has been included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage. Alongside the Glamočko silent dance, there are memories of choosing girls for marriage, those sturdy and capable, and even the male leader of the circle couldn’t be just anyone.
Usually, it was the strongest or most handsome young man in the group. In one part of the dance, that same young man, a mountain dweller and harambaša, shows respect to his often future wife by kneeling while holding her hand. She represented one of the pillars of his future household. The dance has its roots dating back to the time of Turkish rule when Orthodox Christians were not allowed to attract attention, so they danced without music, which is why it is called “silent.” The circle dance also represented a part of people’s social life during that time.