Names of the dances

The names of the dances

Although the separate dances had their own names (and some still have) the dances are often named by generic names, for example the region where they come from: Valle Korçare, dance from Korça, or Valle Burnishte, dance “like a man”.

This might cause confusion as one Valle Korçare is not the same dance as another Valle Korçare. Both dances are from the Korça region, but might differ in character and style.

Especially in Kosovo the old term Kërçim, (hopping) or shortened to K’cim, is also in use.

In order to make it clear which dance is mentioned the title of the song to which the dance is executed (Valle “Laje si Rosa”, the specific name of the village, or the specific style or gender of the dancers can be added to the name: Vallja e nuseve të Sllovës, Dance of the brides from Sllovë (a village in Dibra region).

Other usual names refer to the profession, the work, the gender, historical events and people, animals, arms etcetera.

Often there is confusion about the term “Valle” and “Vallja”. In modern media these terms are used (or rather abused) with no difference. But there is a grammatical difference. “Valle” is just “dance”, while “Vallja” is “dance of (from)”. Vallja is always followed by the “e” to express the adjective. Valle Korçare could be translated as “Korça dance”, Vallja e Korçës as “Dance of Korça”, both mean the same. So if a dance is mentioned “Valle e ….” That would be a mistake. When a book on dances has a summary in a foreign language, you may see such mistakes by the translators, while in the Albanian text it is written as should be.

Popular dances are often named by just the addition: Vallja e Katjushkës will be named just Katjushka, Valle Napoloni just Napoloni and Valle Pogonishte just Pogonishte. These are such well-known names that the word “Valle” of “Vallja” is no longer necessary to name the dance. The well-known dance “Shota” is in fact short for “Vallja e shotës”

Last but not least there are different ways of naming by dialect, Gehg or Tosk, Labe or Çame. The dance mentioned “Valle burnishte”is actually the generic name in Gegh dialect. In official Albanian language it would be “Valle burrerishte”.

Written by: Cees Hillebrand. Last updated: 2020-11-14