Balkan Folk Dance History - Gypsy Folk Ensemble

Go to content
Early Sources for the History Of Folk Dance in the Balkans and Western Asia

Early Sources for the History of Folk Dance in the Balkans and Western Asia


Dance is the most difficult of all the arts to document; it is ephemeral and there is no generally accepted method of transcription for all forms of dance. This has meant that histories of dance other than ballet have not only been few and far between but that those that exist often are based more on conjecture and imagination than on documentary evidence. The history of folk dance is especially hard to document since until fairly recently many if not most of its practitioners were illiterate and the upper and literate classes were seldom interested in “peasant” dance. This problem is most acutely felt in the study of non-Western European dance. In Western Europe, the nineteenth century saw a notable concern with folklore, folk music and, to some extent, folk dance. However, in the areas of the Balkans and Western Asia, many years were to go by before a similar interest in the folk past was exhibited and virtually our only sources for earlier periods are the notices of travelers through these regions.

The following chapters comprise a series of narratives by wanderers, tourists, scientists and wayfarers in the Balkans and Western Asia complemented by a few local academic notices of dance lore published before about 1920.

A number of the works quoted in this collection can be found online through Google Books, Project Gutenberg, or other sources.

Joseph Abbate

This is a Work in Progress. More material will be added.

Table of Contents

I. The Balkans

II. Western Asia

- Gypsy Folk Ensemble

- Early Travelers to Greece

- Greeks & Albanians from about 1800

- Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Croatians

- Bulgarians, Macedonians

- Romanians

- Asia Minor & Northern Iraq

- The Levant

- Persia

Back to content