Vallet e burrave të Opojës (Men's dances from Opojë)

One of the most striking dances from the Opojë region in Kosovo is the “Vallet e burrave të Opojës” or just simply translated “Men’s dances from Opojë” . It might also be named “Valle burrash të Opojës”, meaning the same but just a single dance, not several dances. Actually it is not just one dance , but a cycle of dances varying from 8 to 12 dances as recorded by Prof. Dr. Ramazan Bogdani in the region in 1979 and described in his publication “Gjurmime koreografike”, translated “Choreographic Investigation”, published in 1995.

The series of dances is performed by men outdoors and accompanied by two zurla’s and two lodra, the Albanian word for tapan. The zurla’s are kaba or big zurla’s. The dances start normally with a “Kolliçoja”, which may serve also as the title for the whole cycle. In this part the dancers are not connected to each other, but are dancing in a circle or semi circle with the arms moving freely around, oriented with their steps. As individual dancers in this part they take the complete space of their extended arms and legs to dance in. After having finished the Kolliçoja they will just walk around in the circle one behind the other while the zurla’s are playing a kind of intermezzo, before they start the second dance. This is repeated between each dance.

The cycle of 12 dances comes from Pllavë and is as follows: 1. Kolliçoja 2. Mbas Kolliçosë ( a second variant to the nr. 1 Kolliçoja) 3. Dorë më dorë ( now they are holding hands in the normal low “V” position) 4. Kara Isufi 5. Kërcim burrërishte ( dance for men) 6. Gisht për gisht (little fingers intertwined with arms in “W” position) 7. Hasjanka e vogël (Little Hasjanka) 8. E grave 9. Hasjanka e madhe (Big Hasjanka) 10. Sherianka (First variant) 11. Sherianka (Second variant) 12. Sherianka (Third variant) Sherianka is also known as Sheriança or Sheriange. The cycle from the village of Kosavë counts 9 dances. 1. Kolloçoja (e pare, first variant) 2. Kolloçoja (second variant) 3. Kolloçoja (third variant) 4. Kolloçoja (fourth variant) 5. Hasjanka 6. E grave 7. Kara Isufi 8. Brocka 9. Vallja e Shotës The cycle from the village of Shajnë counts 8 dances. 1. Kolliçoja e pare (First variant) 2. Vallja vesh për vesh 3. Gisht për gisht 4. Krah për krah (shoulder to shoulder, meaning arms horizontally stretched, the hands on the shoulders of the neighbouring dancer, “T” position) 5. Vallja e Kara Isufit 6. Vallja e Selman Agës 7. Çakixhiut (also known as Gostivarka and Veshellka, resp. from Gostivar and from Veshela, a village halfway between Tetovës and Dragash, Vešala in Macedonian. 8. Disa valle të lehta

It may be that other villages have a similar cycle with another mix of the dances. I once heard a part of a cycle in which Dorë më dorë, Krah për krah and Gisht për gisht were present, but this may also have been a mistake in naming the different parts or a mix for educational purposes. They all start with Kolliçoja (or Kolloçoja, which is the same, but names in local dialects may differ). This dance is probably the most difficult one. There is no physical contact between the dancers. Each on his own. Not all dancers dance the full cycle, some will leave the semi circle or circle after one or two dances to return later during the intermezzo’s.

Written by: Cees Hillebrand. Last updated: 2018-05-01

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