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Albanian culture and tradition cannot be fully understood without first having witnessed the country’s traditional folk dances. In addition to the music, the particular choreography and costumes are fascinating elements of these dances, revealing as much about the specific region they represent as any history book! Each region has its own traditional costume and particular folk dance, a great variety of which can be seen in any Albanian wedding or similar celebration. The north includes some of the most beautiful and most technically challenging dances, which are mostly characterized by displays of bravery and strength. The dueling dance and the bravery dance, along with several other lyric folk dances, have earned a much-deserved privileged position in Albanian popular culture. But, which ones are the north’s best-known folk dances? Below we offer our three picks of the most popular ones!
There are many reasons this dance sits comfortably in the first place! Unlike the name suggests, this folk dance is not only characteristic of the city of Tropojë but of the entire area of the Highlands of Gjakovë. In addition to its beautiful, dramatic melody, it is the elegant movements of the women accompanied by the determined movements of the men that give the dance its particular appeal. The men’s extension of the arms mimics that of a flying eagle which, as a result of its strong patriotic connotations, ensures the dance’s special place in the hearts of all Albanians. (For a wonderful interpretation of this folk dance, please click here).
The extremely quick movements, energy and adrenaline of this particular dance make it a favorite of wedding parties. Seen almost as a rite of passage, the dancers who are able to keep up and take this dance all the way to its challenging conclusion are looked upon with awe and admiration. Its ever-increasing rhythm ups the enthusiasm level of any celebration and it is quite amazing to witness ordinary people who dance with the same elegance as professional dancers. (A version of this dance can be seen here.)
Dibra’s double dance is a folk dance, traditionally danced by men. Its proud movements are executed by two dancers who use each other as support for its most difficult steps. Performed in traditional costume including a vest, a traditional woolen cap, and a characteristic red handkerchief, this folk dance blends the boundaries between folk dance and theatre. Through it, men were historically able to show their strength and prowess, a crucial message to convey in the once warlike area of the north. (An extraordinary version of the dance can be seen here).