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Folk dances

The material posted here is based on the previously unpublished manuscript of Dace Nasteviča. The dances once popular and danced in Suiti community are described below.

Garais dancis (The Long dance)

This dance is rightly considered one of the oldest that has survived in the repertoire of Latvian folk dances. In the collection Latviešu tautas dejas, published in 1962, we find a sentence that well describes the role of the Cinderella of the ancient Latvian dance: Now the Long dance is often used for the appearance of dancers on the stage or square… But the royal restraint of this dance, the proud posture that the dancers naturally have, its polonaise the appearance of the type does not at all indicate its prominence among a simple agricultural people. In other words, they testify about our ancestors in a much more glorifying light, like the ancient chronicles.

The dance was first recorded by J.Rinka and J.Ošs after the explanations of the kokle player and Alsunga resident Nikolajs Heņķis. It is a couples dance. The long dance was usually danced after the Round Moon (walk), repeating it several times. This is probably where the name of the dance comes from.

The oldest record of the music refers to October 4, 1926, when Nikolajs Heņķis played it for E. Melngailim (LMFM I, no. 1357, LD no. 208). Here is what Maksis Goldins wrote about this dance in 1967 (Latviešu tautas deju melodijas, pp. 59-63): Bagpipe and horn melodies form the intonational basis of compositions such as Garais dancis. The intonations have been modified here, and yet the kinship of the Garais dancis with the intonations of ancient instrument melodies is not in doubt. In its 3rd stage, the typical intonations of bagpipe melodies have been transformed (for example Melngailia Latv. dancis no. 324).

Another note from the Latviešu dancis: This dance was played by the Suiti musician Nikolajs Heņķis on April 8, 1933, after the bagpipe melody on kokle. (Em.Mg. LMFK I, no. 1373, LD no. 358). M. Goldins continues: The version of the long dance for kokle is very interesting. It vividly reflects the techniques used in the texture and harmony of Latvian kokles and the folk art of instrumental variation.

H. Sūna, also mentioning the already quoted version of the kokle, writes like this: in addition, Em. Melngailis also recorded – Garais dancis is accompanied with a song with a long text. The long dance is said to have been an ancient Suiti wedding dance. It is danced immediately after a meal.

The picture would not be complete if I did not mention what J.Rinka and J.Ošs wrote in the 1936 edition of Latvju tautas dejas IV book: there is reason to think that some of our folk dances have been danced for hundreds of years unchanged, untouched by innovation, preserving their original structure. …to this category of dances we must first add Garais dancis, whose motif is quite unique and drastically different from the melodies of the other dances. When listening to it, it seems that the melody will never end. It is thought that this is why the dance got its name – the long dance. … The main attention should be paid to the dance choreography, which is very primitive for Garais dancis. The dance features only a running step, which cannot cause difficulties for any dancer, because everyone who listens to their feet can run (running with small steps). This step can be considered the simplest and also the most primitive step of the dance…

In 1948, the teller Jānis Zeltleja, born in 1878, from Antiņi in Alšvanga, even said this: The only dance at that time was the so-called Garais dancis, which was accompanied on the violin. The first violin player in Alšvanga was Spēlmaņu būdineks. (FS 1824, 791).

Regarding the age of the dance – its steps and construction were already recognized as the oldest, but the melody, which can be considered a typical bagpipe melody, could be dated to the appearance of bagpipes in Latvia – around the 16th century. And it wasn’t long before bagpipes were also banned.

Apaļais mēness (The Round moon)

When talking about the Long Dance, the Round Moon dance was mentioned. Who is the author of this comment? Does it come from Sabile, where M. Lasmane wrote down the variations of the Long Dance? If this is what the kokle player Nikolajs Heņķis said, then why didn’t the dance masters J.Rinka and J.Ošs also wrote down the Round Moon from Heņķis? The Toronto edition of 1973, where I found this dance, does not mention the place where it was recorded, not even approximately. Would this indicate its wide spread? Then maybe – also in the Suiti?

Couple dance. Dance in marching step. With this dance, as depicted by the writer J.Janševskis, in the ancient Courland the fun part of celebrations was started, and all the guests – big and small, young and old – took part in it. Most worthy couple positions at the head of the column, taking charge of the dance. As the music played, the column of dancers marched around the room. That is why it is also given the expressive name – the round moon. When the older participants left the dance column, the younger ones continued the march at a smoother pace. If the celebration took place in summer and in dry weather, then the young people, tied in a row, went from the room to the yard and further – to the hall and the granary, then back to the room. If there were no musicians, then the participants of the walking procession sang a suitable song.

Vadžu deja (the Hook dance)

The change between steps and jumps in Latvian folk dances is common. It is widely included in ķekatas, wedding and funeral dances, i.e. everywhere where human life, life and fertility are praised. These steps are also found in Germanic and Celtic dances, only these peoples perform it a little differently (Toronto, 1973, p. 153).

This dance is included in the typical German repertoire, although the Germans themselves recognize it as borrowed from a Portuguese march. Maksis Goldins (LTD melodies, p. 102) mentions the name Šmickus for this dance, which probably comes from the first line of the text, Herr Schimdt. Herr Schmidt, der nimt die Jule mit.

The most concise description of the performance of this dance was given by Pēteris Korāts, who also performed it in 1926 for E. Melngailis (LMFM I, no. 1339, LD no. 314 and no. 191): While dancing the first half, one holds on to the towel connected to a hook in a wall, in the second half jumps around like in polka.

E. Siliņa wrote about this dance: One by one they dance in the Vadžu dance. Here one or more guys start, each with both hands holding on to the end of a towel or rope, which is suspended from the lead. The soloist jumps to slow change steps. The dancer then lets go of the towel and circles the room in polka steps to the lead, deftly grabs the towel again and begins the above steps again. Sometimes the polka is danced in pairs. Dancers have to show their dexterity here, try to return to their place as soon as possible. (SIL. 1982, p. 84).

There is also a story that this dance was started by guys who wrapped ropes around the hooks fixed in the wall. Therefore, I would like to question the translation of the dance given by E. Spičs in the Ziemas grāmata (Riga, 1991, p. 72): When there is no musician at the party, but the guys want to bram and show off their skills, they jump the Vadžu deja. You need a hook in the ceiling (!) and a strong rope. Its middle is wrapped around the wire, but the ends are held firmly in the hands. Holding it like this, you can jump on one leg, on the other leg, crossing your legs. As if a completely different dance is being talked about here.

In the collections of Latvian folk dances, the Vadžu deja is given in Jēkabs Stumbrs notes, which he has made in Alsunga. He himself published them in the collection Dejosim latviski II. part (1940). The number of dancers is unlimited. Girls can also participate in the dance. The Hook dance can be danced either by boys alone, or by girls alone, or in a mixed composition. One dancer can also dance.

Looking at the notes of the melodies, the first part with the most minimal differences was common to all. The fastest part gave the greatest possibilities for variation, which I already noted with other dance melodies. In this case, you can again compare the performance of the teacher and the student – Heņķis and Poriķis. E. Melngailis recorded the Vadžu deja from Heņķis again, this time in 1933 (LMFM I, no. 1377).

Henkis, crooning this melody, sang almost the same words that we already encountered in the German edition. But there are also several Latvian word variants. Both Henkis and Porikis call this dance also the Towel Dance. I have already written about this connection when talking about dances during wedding ceremonies.

Ingrīda Saulīte, while preparing a new collection of Latvian folk dances, found another recording of this dance from Alsunga in Jēkabs Stumbrss archive. If the Towel Dance was performed in the same way at a gathering, then it is not understandable for the guys to adorn themselves with a towel over their shoulders, but if it is at a wedding, then only after the ceremony and dowry distribution, where as a ritual action, dressing with towels is already included, i.e. endowment of the main working men with towels sewn at the ends, which were placed over both shoulders in a cross. Patterned gloves were also tied to the ends of the towels.

Skalu dancis (the Stick dance)

This dance was first published in 1936, but Korāts performed it to E. Melngailis already in 1924. Unfortunately, only this fact has survived.

The dance emphasizes two basic elements – the leap as a magical movement and the sticks as rhymes from the use of spears in an ancient war dance. The primordial belief in the jump is magical purification and promotion of fertility, also in Latvian weddings. (SIl. 1939, p. 60).

It was recorded by J.Rinka and J.Ošs in Aizpute according to the performance of P. Korāts. A dance for one guy. Judging by the analogy with the Scottish Spear Dance, the Stick dance is undoubtedly a fragment of an ancient Latvian war dance. But since the Livonian Order already in the 15th century forbade Latvians to carry and keep weapons of war, it is very likely that our ancestors, dancing war dances according to old traditions, replaced swords and spears with sticks. That’s how the dance got its name.

More from the other sources. Also in our choreography some fragments of war dances seem to have survived. The Suiti cross or Stick dance, judging by the analogy with the Scottish spear dance, suggests that hundreds of years ago it was danced as a war dance. The crossed sticks are supposed to replace the spears, but the quick jumps in this cross have been preserved in their primitive form. (Tor., 1973, p. 23).

Although the war dances of the ancient Latvians are not directly mentioned anywhere in the songs arranged so far, there is reason to believe that they existed, just like with the ancient Germans, Scandinavians, Scots and other peoples. Professor A. Švābe, studying our war songs, also saw in them signs of war dances. He points out that the most characteristic chants of war songs (dai – dau, ē – ē, etc.) can be considered as elements of war dances expressed in words – taps of combat weapons on the shield, heavy kicks of the feet… (LTD notebook 4, Riga, 1936).

In the Konversācijas vārdnīca, near the letter K, we can read a quote from Indrick’s Chronicle XVI 3: … When war was on their minds, they came together for a discussion and, having decided on war, struck swords on the ground, thus promising each other loyalty and endurance in battle.

Stick dance is danced not only in the Suiti community. There are variants of the dance, when either two counter-dancers jump over the crossed sticks, or they alternately jump one and the other, and then both together. For example, a boy and a girl (husband and wife) jump over crossed scales. (H.S. 1991, p. 248).

Sometimes a burning candle is placed in the middle of the crossed sticks and jumps, so called Cross Cossack. With hands at the sides, the dancer must nimbly dance from one stick to another in a polka step. After that, without touching or extinguishing the candle, you have to jump to the other side and in the same order, jumping over the candle, you have to dance to all four ends of the sticks. (Sil. 1982, p. 84).

It is interesting that the four-couple Cross dance, which J.Rinka and J.Ošs wrote down as common in Liefland, especially in Maliena, has practically the same music as the Skalu dancis. It is also written about the Cross Dance that: The dance belongs to ancient war dances, which is confirmed by the words of the dance, which praise the protection of the land and the imitation of the movements of soldiers, such as taunting and raising the shield. In addition, the movements are formed by the sign of the protector of soldiers: three different crosses. That is why the name of the Cross dance is also given to the dance.

The singing Cross Dance is mentioned by K. Pētersons in his work Latviešu kāzas (p. 231): Because the cross dance was popular, the female winners of which danced alone, without men, and besides being sung. Girls and wives, clinging to each other, walked in one herd. In the cross dance, three couples dance, looking at the cross in all kinds of ways (Ranķi).

I will finish writing about this dance with a quote from H. Sūnas Latviešu sadzīves horeogrāfijas (Riga, 1991, p. 245): Stick dance is written as it was danced by Pēteris Korāts (Aizpute). This dance is not suitable for performances or the festive part of events, as it is not suitable for such purposes, however, it has a very great ethnographic value.

Mugurdancis (the Back dance)

Written down by J.Rinka and J.Ošs based on the motives and explanations of the kokle player Nikolajs Heņķis.

The oldest of the variants of Mugurdancis melodies written down in Alsunga is the one played by N. Heņķis to E. Melngailis already in 1926. It was recorded under the title – Krogusdancis (Mugurdancis). (LMFM I, no. 1369; LD 212).

Sivēniņdancis (the Piglet dance)

On November 21, 1924, Melngailis wrote down the Sivēniņdancis (bagpipes) from Krists Lācis, a resident of Pilsberga (Jūrkalne), with a relatively exhaustive description of the movements: walk like cranes in a line, mingling, then they all grab each other in a circle, spinning around and jumping. (LMFM I, no. 1397; LD nos. 211 and 348).

And as early as 1971, Ņina Bērziņa wrote down from Jūrkalne resident Augusts Lācis, a descendant of the aforementioned teller Krists Lācis (FS 2000,2398): Sivēniņu dancis, this dance is accompanied by kokles and bagpipes. The narrator does not remember the events well. At the age of 10 (so around 1925, because August was born in 1915) he saw this dance performed. It is a very old dance. One went ahead. The others are holding hands in a row one behind the other. Everyone takes small steps. The first took all kinds of twists and turns. There was a ring hanging from the ceiling. When the bends are made, the first one touches the circle. What happened next, the narrator does not remember.

Brūtes maršs (the Bride’s march)

It is special that several written works talk about the first dance of the young couple at the wedding, but only this Brūtes maršs written down three times by Pēteris Korāts could be considered as such. Emīlis Melngailis has recorded it twice – in 1926 and 1941. The oldest of them was most likely played on the kokle (LMFM I, no. 1342; LD no. 233).

The characterization of this music has already been eloquently assessed by Maksis Goldins, Latviešu tautas deju melodijas 112. On page: The Bride’s March written by Melngailis is very original. It is a melodic (singable with words, by the way), lyrical march played at a moderate tempo. With its elaborate form and emotional expressiveness, this melody occupies a special place not only among dances, but also in Latvian folk music in general. It is a peculiar Latvian folk march, without a dotted rhythm, close to the genre of a solemn song. What else is there to add?

If the Brūtes maršs is a dance, then there are no records of any movements accompanying or inspired by this dance. March – so a march, maybe even similar to the action of the Round Moon. But in the absence of information, there is free time for improvisation.

Gatves deja (the Ally dance)

First published in 1934. Written down by J.Rinka and J.Ošs after the explanations of Nikolajs Heņķis, the kokle player from Alsunga. At least 4 couples participate in the dance. Further from the 1962 edition of Latviešu tautas dejas – if there are many participants, it is recommended to create several alleys. Note in the Canadian edition – no more than 8 pairs.

In the Suiti community there is no singing along with this dance today. I couldn’t find the written words anywhere either. The text, which is heard now and then with the melody of Gatve’s dance, is a composition of completely new times.

Alsunģietis (the Alsungian)

Written by Jēkabs Stumbris. Couple dance. Music and dance recorded in Alsunga in 1938. It is performed in leap steps. Only J. Stumbris himself does not mention any text for Alsunģietis, enven though he did write some texts down! He ends the description of this dance as follows: Alsuņģietis dance is known in Alsunga.

Dance with no name

On February 2, 1941, when Pēteris Korāts was staying in Riga, E. Melngailis wrote down a dance from him with a description of the movements explained in five words (LMFM I, no. 1351).

Elza Siliņa writes (Sil. 82, p. 88): Repeating a figure in Latvian four-couple dance is sometimes called earning bread. In Alsunga, the first couple’s girl starts the bread-earning tour by dancing around her partner with her hands down, then the girl goes to the next couple’s boyfriend, goes around him and comes back to her boyfriend, to go again to the next couple’s boyfriend, back to her partner and around him. Bread-making is done in turn by all girls, then all the boys. After each move, the pairs step back and forth, change places and return to their places.

Judging by the music, this dance could be danced as a polka with a relatively fast tempo. What do the pauses at the end of both sentences mean? Are they also shown in the performance of the dance as touches of the feet or hands, jumps, change of direction of movement?

Kamoldancis

Jānis Šperliņš wrote that Kamoldancis was danced at the wedding in his book Senās suitu kāzas und ķekatas, but I did not find such a dance among the published folk dances from the Suiti community. In the organized collection of I. Grabovska (Riga, 1956) there is the dance Kamoliņš – an ancient Latvian ethnographic dance, originating in Nīca, Bārta. Kārlis Pētersons in his work Latviešu kāzas (RLB Zin. Commission’s collection of articles no. 16, Riga, 1912) describes the Kamoliņu dance from Bernāti near Liepāja. Perhaps, reading this description, someone will remember having danced similarly in the Suiti?

Stand in pairs. The women along the wall, the men in front of them. While the musicians are playing, the women twist the fist of right hand around left and sing. Men at that time lifted their legs clumsily, like stiff old men. When the first half of the song is sung twice, the women grab their man and sing the second half of the song twice while dancing. The couples dance around and the women line up again at the wall.

In 1934, J.Rinka and J.Ošs wrote down an already extended 11- movement Kamoliņdance in Nīca, after the performance of A.Auza and violinist A.Snēbis. Its full description can be found in the collection of Latviešu tautas dejas by I.Saulīte (Riga, 1993, p. 191).

Pirkstiņš (A finger)

I have seen only one recording of this dance from the suits – in 1940 by E. Melngailis. The Finger was played by Andrejs Brūders from Klostere (LMFM I, no. 1427).

Just in case, I looked for the description in Elza Siliņa’s book. And I found it too. I just don’t know if it was danced in the same way in the Suiti (Sil. 82, p. 79): In the toe dance, the rows of girls and boys approach and retreat with the steps of the march, approach again, exchange places and go back. The dancers threaten each other three times with the right and three times with the index finger of the left hand, turn around and clap their hands. The lines approach the polka steps again, the opposite partners hold each other and dance the round polka.

As a couple’s dance, Pirkstiņš was recorded by J. Stumbris in Iecava. It was published in Latvian folk dances arranged by I.Saulīte, 1993, p. 94.

Vecā tēva polka (the Grandfather’s polka)

Pēteris Korāts named this melody the Grandfather’s polka, playing it for A. Krūmiņš in 1948. The first half of the melody is the well-known jingle All the dogs of the village barked, which is recorded four times in the Land of Suiti alone. The Korāts has a different text and for the dance, there is another part, which is purely instrumental (FS 1824, 322, 323).

This musical material is a pure addition, as evidenced by the 1925 publication as a German song in the Leipzig collection Deutscher Liederhort von Ert und Böhme p. 430 no. 614 – Truh nicht so!

How did this music come to us – as a song or a dance? If we remember that it is easier for dance to cross borders due to the lack of language barriers, then maybe initially as a dance? Again food for thought.

Garais grīslis (The long sedge)

The performance of this dance was shown by Anna Porziņģe from the Ruņģi homestead in Alsunga parish, her daughter Ilga Leimane recorded it in 1985 in the same place.

The oldest recording of this dance melody has already done by E. Melngailis LMFM, only due to a mistake the one played by Poriķis (data missing) got lost among the Rucava material (LMFM I, no. 1330 (page 207) and LD, no. 250).

Diždancis (the Great dance)

When in 1924 the Suiti won the sympathy of the Riga public with their wedding performance, I. Arnolds wrote in Latvis: Pēteris Korāts has arrived with an old kokle, even though slightly modernized, and a collection of beautiful original songs. The singer, together with his wife and daughter, demonstrated how to dance the Great dance (Latvian polonaise), playing it on the kokle and helping it with his voice … Then Pēteris Korāts brings up one of his modern pieces, which he plays at weddings…Then the gray antiquity follows: the beautiful Great dance is heard. Korāts also shows how to dance it. This is our polonaise, with all the wedding guests walking around the farm and house. – that’s what Melngailis wrote on April 5, 1924 in the newspaper Jaunākās Ziņas.

When Korāts came to Riga again to show off his skill, E. Melngailis’s friends sent him to him as well. But in the folklore notes published by Melngailis, Korāts’s playing appears only starting from October 4, 1926. At that time, two years earlier, did Melngailis also record the Great dance’s performance without the melody. However, according to the brief description, the Suiti Great dance presented by Korāts has the closest relationship with the Round Moon.

According to a remark of Legzdu Ingus from Gavieze, Vecais jandāls belonged to the grand or great dances, which were performed by 4 couples, cross-composed (A. Jurjāns Rotaļu und dziedamo deju melodijas, Rīga, 1912., p. 11). So how does it happen – that there are big and small dances? There are simple and complex ones. Does the name the Great dance refers not to a specific dance, but to the size and significance of a dance?

At weddings, it is customary for four couples to dance in a cross. The dance is often called Krusta dancis (Dance of the Cross). The wedding four-couple dance is also called the Big Cross Dance or simply the Big Dance. Respectable people are dancing opposite (Moss, LSH, 1991, p. 257).

I immediately searched in what was already written: in the ancient wedding of Courland and Semigallia, the first dance was the Great dance. It was danced mostly in honor, with the participation of all the most respectable grooms. The dancers formed into pairs and moved with slow steps in a walking procession. The Great dance also went in the arrangement of three – a guy between two girls or a girl between two guys… The Great dance – that’s our polonaise with all the wedding guests walking all around the farm and the house – that’s Em. Melngailis. (Sil. 1982, p. 39).

Harijs Sūna (1991, LSH, p. 218): … columns of three, the first three leads the dance… for example, at a wedding, the Great dance was danced in the arrangement of three – a guy between two girls or a girl between two guys … An adult dances in a trio with two little ones – a child on each hand. A guy with two girls also dances, rarely one girl with two guys. Sometimes the two big ones take the little one in the middle (parents with a child). And on page 264: four threes in a quadrangle – a boy between two girls – the Twelvedance.

Elza Siliņa in 1982 (p. 83): Franzese rhymes are still found in some regions of Latvia. According to the tellers, in Alsunga, a Franzese was danced in a line of threes (a boy between two girls). Jānis Šperlinņš in his book Senās suitu kāzas und ķekatas (1937) mentions a six-couple dance that was danced at a wedding. I found only a partial description of Sešdancis, in which … there are at least two trios dancing – each a guy between two girls. (Sil. 1982, p. 80).

But this is not the end either. Kokle player Jānis Poriķis said about the Great dance that it is the kind of dance where you can sit on the sidelines until it’s your turn to dance.

Četrpāru dancis (the Four pair dance)

I will start with what Elza Siliņa wrote in 1982 (pp. 84, 85, 87, 89): The oldest dances of Latvian folk groups, recorded in the 19th century, include four-pair dances…. The ancient farmers attributed the importance of promoting fertility to four-couple dances. It is possible that in the distant past, the ancient four-pair dances of Latvians also had some symbolic meaning, which has been forgotten over time, and of which only the symmetrical geometric pattern of the ornament has survived. … in the quadrilateral grouping, the various movements – rows, intersections of rows, circles, bends, stars, roofs, etc. also correspond to the geometric ornament designs in Latvian ancient ornaments. Archaeologists’ research shows that geometric ornaments do not only have a decorative function, but they were connected with peasants’ ideas about the surroundings and nature until the 5th – 9th centuries AD.

Alsunga Four-couple dance, as the name itself suggests, is danced in Alsunga. Jānis Poriķis, a kokle player, said about this dance: While the guy was getting to his tour, he could sit on an overturned bucket.

In 1933, a Four-pair dance, as it can be seen in part I of Latviešu mūzikas folkloras materiāli with no. 1376 and Latviešu danči no. 362, as played by Nikolajs Heņķis for Emīlis Melngailis.

Kazāks (the Cossack)

A short description of the Cossack dance was given by Elza Siliņa (Sil. 1982, p. 79): In the Cossack dance, the participants stand in two rows, each row has the same number of couples. The first row goes towards the second and retreats. Then the opposite row repeats the same. After that, the two lines approach at the same time, pass through each other, the dancers turn around and come back to their places. In the second move, the guys in the first row and the girls in the second row go towards each other, turn in the closed hand grip, go to their places and turn elbows with their partner. The same is repeated by the girls of the first row and the boys of the second row, etc.

Sīkā gatve (the Small alley)

It is a dance for which the music has been written down four times, but only five words from the performance: with the second part a fence is woven. That’s how Pēteris Korāts has described this dance twice for E. Melngailis. For the first time on October 4, 1926 (LMFM I, no. 1337 and LD no. 311 = 194), for the second time – in February 1941 (LMFM no. 1349 and LD no. 245).

In 1948, folklorist A. Krūmiņš also recorded the Small alley dance from the same kokle player Pēteras Korāts (FS 1824, 320, 321). This time it was sung, as evidenced by the vocal syllables.

Again, A. Krūmiņš wrote down the melody of the same dance from the kokle player Jānis Poriķis in the same year 1948. There is a comment – heard from N. Heņķis – so, from his teacher.

Indeed, I found only details about such a dance in E. Siliņa’s book Latviešu tautas dejas izcelsme un attīstība (1982, p. 77). We are talking about line dances: Also for the two-line Sīkais (the Small) dance, which is usually called the Gatves deja (Alley dance). Gatves dance is one of the most popular line dances in Latvian folk choreography. And below is given, let’s call it, a description of the great Gatve dance. The text of the dance music matches, the names – Gatves and Sīkais dancis, but they are not put together as Sīkā gatve. In my opinion, this is a completely different dance. Sīkā gatve has typical polka music, Gatve dance has a rhythm suitable for a graceful step.

Here, perhaps, Korāts’s words about weaving the fence could be deciphered – weaving the fence is an ordinary twist, only when performing it, the dancers raise their hands slightly to the side. A boy and a girl, walking past each other, stretch their hand forward and touch the back of the person coming towards them with their palm, as if pushing them (from the writing of J. Rinka and J. Ošs).

In my opinion, our new choreographers should come to the rescue in this situation, which has developed with Sīkā gatve dance.

Eņģelīšu dancis (the Small angel’s dance)

Only one record has been made in the Suiti community for this dance – it was sung or played by Krists Lācis from the Pilsberģe (Jūrkalne) Dīķi homestead in 1924 (LMFM I, no. 1396 and LD no. 329, 339) for E. Melngailis. The performance was also written down: The boss walks, leading to the line, one end, the other end, tapping the ring on the ceiling with his hand.

What E. Siliņa writes about line dances (Sil. 1988, p. 77): In the Nīca version, only the girls dance… in another version… pairs of dancers stand in a mixed line or in a double line and while dancing create various movements known in Latvian folk choreography – the fence braiding, tying knots. In the book Latviešu dancis, E. Melngailis writes that this dance: goes like a Franzese, one row facing the other, then passing through, finally weaving the fence, holding hands in chains.

The name of the dance, Angel, seems to be introduced through the Germans, but it is also possible that the designation has some satirical subtext. The accompanying words for the dance, if there were any at all, have not been preserved. Sometimes lyrics are sung that do not correspond to its character at all. (Sil. 88. ?? p.) About this name also in the 2nd book of Latvju tautas dejas by Rinks and Oša: The name Eņģelīša seems to come from a mutilated foreign word, and the nature of the dance itself does not seem completely Latvian either. E. Siliņa writes about Eņģelītis as a common and much danced dance. To Kārlis Pētersons, a teller had told that in Užava there has been both the Little Angel and the Big Angel dances.

Of course, the four measures sung by Krists Lācis are not enough for the dance to be danceable, but at least it is an indication that the Angel will be danced in general. It’s hard to say already today – one way or another, and at what moment the leading guy, here – the boss – taps the ring on the ceiling. The ring is definitely a clamp in which the looms were attached, in which the divisions of the loom threads were formed before weaving.

Also about the name – doesn’t it have something to do with the leading guy’s way of dancing – throwing bows as if flying, maybe even holding the sides of his arms like wings?

Akenšpice (Akenspitz)

This dance is still danced in Alsunga today. The number of dancers is unlimited. It is a couple dance.

From Elza Siliņa’s writing: in the middle of the 19th century, especially at the end of it, Latvian folk couple dances were rarely danced in places where young people gather – pubs and dance evenings, because new, borrowed couple dances had appeared, which linked interest to more unusual movements and rhythms. Through the people of the manor and the town, couple dances spread – waltz, railender (Leelender), hakenspitz (also akenspitz), papillion, etc. (Sil. 1982, p. 75).

Jānis Šperliņš already mentioned in 1937 (p. 76) that in recent times, Akenšpic was also danced at the Suiti weddings. But Akenspitz lived its own life. So in 1962, Zaiga Burnicka encountered it during an expedition in Talsi region. A note for its recording: An old Latvian dance, known around 150 years ago. (FS 1960, 4328). Named here Akmin spitz. In 1964, A. Bomiks recorded this same dance, or rather – its variant, in the Dobele district nursing home from Laukmaņu Jānis, born in 1887 (FS 1968, 192). ).

What is the basis of such liveliness of the dance? Its simplicity, its music, its Latvianness? What then?

Polka ar tekstu Sēdi ratu pakaļā (Polka with the text Sit in the back of the cart)

In 1926, this polka was played by Nikolajs Heņķis for E. Melngailis. He has added only its own note – influenced by modern times (LMFM I, no. 1360; LD no. 328).

That this polka was popular in the Suiti community is evidenced by its recording on a record already around 1933. Heņķis himself plays kokle and women sing, repeating each two-line of the text twice. The pace is fast, the dexterity of the kokle player’s fingers is amazing.

Skroders sēd uz aku (Tailor sits on a well)

The dance, also called Krusta Polka, Krustdancis, but actually comes as a variant of the German Kreuzpolka from Stettin. A lot of dancing has been done in the Land of Suiti, but now the dance is forgotten. One of the elderly Suiti once said: Yes, we jumped, but only for the fashion of Akenspitz.