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In Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Montenegro, each region has its own traditional costume and particular folk dance, a great variety of which can be seen in any Albanian wedding or similar celebration.
The dances are often named by the region where they come from. The most common form is Valle, but also Vallja is used. For example, Vallja e Kukesit, Vallja e Rugoves, Vallja e Tropojes, etc.
We can say that the north includes some of the most beautiful and most technically challenging dances, which are mostly characterized by displays of bravery and strength.
Several folk dances, originating from one region in Albania or Kosovo have become popular throughout the entire Albanian communities.
Vallja e Kuksit, originating from the Kukës region in the north has become popular as a wedding dance throughout Albania, while the Pogonishte from the south has made its way up to the northern parts as well.
These are recent developments and of course, modern society with modern transportation and communication through radio and television have made this possible in a rapid way.
On the other hand exchanges between different regions have had their impact as well. Interactions between the Albanians of different regions still occur and are proof of the evolution of folk dances within the tradition of Albanian folk dances and folklore in general.
During the period after WWII a lot of research has been done on the folk dances in the Republic of Albania with some expeditions on fieldwork in Kosovo too.
This has resulted in the description of about 5000 dances and a minor number of dances from Montenegro and Macedonia. Fortunately, these dances were recorded on film and made it possible to create descriptions in Laban notation as well as in a step by step description of the measures of the music or songs involved.
In general, the folk dances might be divided into two groups: the Urban and Rural dances. The city dances from Tirana, Elbasan, Berat, and other cities are very different in character and style than those of the rural areas around those cities. This is also the case with folk music.
The urban style developed differently from the rural regions, which expressed itself in different costumes, music, songs, and dances. This urban style had its reflections on neighboring villages also, but not an overall influence on the countryside.
The ethnic division of Ghegs and Tosks is well illustrated by the difference in dances and costumes, but also in the music accompanying the dances. The music to the dances of the Ghegs is often accompanied by either zurla and tapan (Surle and Lodra in Albanian) , def or daire or orchestra with ciftelija, sharkija and flutes.
The ciftelija is unique for the northern Albanian music. The southern Tosk dances are usually accompanied by a “sazet”, an orchestra with def, violin, clarinet, llauto and fiz-harmonika.The central Albanian dances, especially the urban dances are accompanied by orchestras that combine the instrumentation of both northern and southern regions.
The clarinet is often leading here but might be in the company of a tupan (Lodra) or def. In the Myzeqë region, a smaller variant to the surla is also in use. No need to say that in these days the electric keyboards have replaced instruments like the gajde and other traditional instruments.
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