Kopanica {Sopluk & Trakia, Bulgaria]

by Yves Moreau

Kopanica is a common name for a type of ively folk dance in Western Bulgaria in 11/16 meter (QQSQQ) counted here as 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2. The name is derived from the verb "kopam" which means to "dig" or to "hoe" and probably refers to the sharp kick-like down and up motions often found in the dance.

The term Kopanica seems to be especially used in the Sopluk (Sop) region of West Bulgaria which includes the towns of Sofia, Pernik, Radomir and Kyustendil. Common names are: Sopska Kopanica, Graovska Kopanica, Divotinka Kopanica (from village of Divotino) etc. There is even a village named Kopanica not far from the town of Pernik!

The term Kopanica is also found in Western Thrace and Sredna Gora regions East of Sofia (Ihtiman, Panagjuriste, Pazardzik) and even as far East as Plovdiv. In Western Thrace, dances in 11/8 meter are often called Krivo (or Krivata), a term which means "crooked" or "uneven" and may also refer to dances in other complex uneven meters such as 13/16 (Krivo Sadovsko), 15/16 (Bucimis) etc. The Kopanica or Krivo dances are usually multi-figured and danced in lines or open circles with dancers holding on to each others' belts (za pojas or na kolan).

Many musicians and musical arrangers have also composed tunes called "kopanica" which may or may not have a specific dance connected with the melody; the purpose being mostly to show off creative talent and musicianship.

Folk dancers are often confused by trying to figure out the difference between Kopanica and Gankino Horo, as these dances are both in 11/8 meter. Gankino (Ganka's dance) seems to be used mostly in Northern Bulgaria (N.W. and North Central). The basic Gankino Horo is a three-measure dance using the step structure also common in the dances: Dunavsko (Danubian Pravo), Povarnoto (also known as Devetorka in Macedonia) and Eleno Mome. The famous Bulgarian accordinosit Boris Karlov had many Gankino tunes in his repertoire.

Dances in 11/16 similar to Kopanica or Gankino can also be found in Macedonia using other names (Sedenka, Pletenica, Skopsko etc.). The famous East Macedonian dance Kopacka (2/4) is also derived from "kopam" (to dig).

folk dancers

There is another good overview by Richard Unciano on Dick Oakes' site.