International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Second Meeting Report - Izmir, Turkey 7-10 April, 2010


7-10 April, 2010Izmir, TurkeySecond Meeting Report

ICTM Study Group on Music and Dance in Southeastern Europe

The second meeting of the ICTM Study Group on Music and Dance in Southeastern Europe was held at the EgeUniversity's State Turkish Music Conservatory in Izmir, Turkey, from 7 to 11 April 2010.

The whole event was very well organized, hosted by the Local Organization Committee (Arzu Öztürkmen, Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin, İlhan Ersoy, Emir Cenk Aydın, Ömer Barbaros Ünlü, Ferruh Özdinçer). Members of the Program Committee, led by the symposium co-chairs Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin (Turkey) and Velika Stoykova Serafimovska (Macedonia) were: Arzu Öztürkmen (Turkey), Dieter Christensen (USA/Germany), Iva Niemčić (Croatia), Lozanka Peycheva (Bulgaria) and Selena Rakočević (Serbia). For five days, more than fifty scholars not only from Southeast European countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia and Serbia), but also from Austria, USA, UK, Germany, Cyprus and Slovenia took part in the plenary study group sessions and effectuated fruitful intellectual interaction.

                The region of Southeastern Europe and its bigger part – the Balkan Peninsula, have a very tempestuous history marked by ceaseless and intense political, social and cultural transitions, which have been and still are reflected in traditional music and dance practices. Powerful influences of the national politics ruled by the states and their institutions, the ethnic (re)identifications and differentiations, diverse role of the media, are just some of the processes which marked out the continual transitional times of this part of Europe. In the aim of exchanging regional, national and local experiences within those processes two major themes of Izmir conference were: (1) How do public presentations affect perception and practices of music and dance? Regional and national experiences, (2) Educational systems of music and dance (learning and teaching processes).

Right after the official opening ceremony, the symposium study sessions began by announcement of this year’s guest of honor, dance researcher Dr. Anca Giurchescu and brief overview of her  rich scholarly legacy especially to the ethnochoreology in Southeastern Europe (by Mehmet Öcal Özbilgin). Beside the notable number of the young scholars who took part in this ICTM Study group, it should be mentioned that the intellectual interaction within its second meeting was remarkable complemented by the incomparable enthusiastic impact of the “older generation” of scholars such as Anca Giurchescu, Elsie Dunin, Dieter Christensen, Timothy Rice and Speranţa Rădulescu. They all took part in the working sessions. 

Anca Giurchescu and Speranţa Rădulescu analyzed the relatively new, extremely popular musical/dance phenomenon in Romania within their smoothly synchronized, comprehensive presentation titled as “Music and Dance of pan-Balkan (and Mediterranean) fusion. The case of the Romanian ‘manea’.” Summarizing her decades-long experience in researching traditional dance practice in Macedonia, Elsie Dunin spoke about the influence of television on the structural and contextual dimensions of the “čoček” dance in the paper “Romani dance and music programming on Macedonian national television.”  Trying to find connections between past and present, global and local historical and geopolitical circumstances which influenced the traditional dance/music scholarship, Dieter Christensen presented the key lecture  “The ICTM and ‘the Europeans’: Globalism in Theory, Nationalism in research practice, and the role of the our Study Group.” Contrary to them, Timothy Rice decided not to present a paper, but to show a 50-minute documentary film May you have courage in your life: a Bulgarian and American musical story about two outstanding Bulgarian traditional musicians who immigrated to the United States in 2001.

Among two proposed themes of the meeting, several more papers were devoted to the questions of how public presentations affect perception and practices of music and dance. Unfortunately, only a few presentations could be set apart this time. Ardian Ahmedaja and Jane Sugarman presented different cases of shaping public presentation of music and dance in and from Albania (Ahmedaja: “About the impact of research and individual artists on public presentation of music and dance in Albania”, Sugarman: “Life and Art: commercial folklore videos and musical practices among Prespa Albanian immigrants”), while Liz Mellish and Nick Green concentrated on the similar, but diverse processes in Romanian Banat (“Public presentations, regional perceptions and dance learning processes in 21st century Romanian Banat”). Carol Silverman presented a historical overview of the diverse public presentations of Macedonian Romani singer Esma Redžepova, which has been changed over time depending on different political and cultural circumstances  (“Representation, sexuality, and multiculturalism: Esma Redžepova as mediator and collaborator”). Considering presentations within this conference theme, it is important to emphasize that scholars from all ex-Yugoslav countries presented their national experiences, which certainly enrich the intellectual interactions not only between themselves, but the whole group too.

Among papers whose authors explored different educational systems of music and dance, four of them were devoted to Bulgarian practice (this time Lozanka Peycheva’s paper “Different educational systems for transmission of folk music in Bulgaria” could be set apart) and six of them presented different case studies from Turkey (the general overview of Ferruh Özdinçer “Folk Dance training (education) methods in Turkey” could be singled out for this short report).

Regardless of the chosen general themes, an approximately equal number of papers devoted to music or dance were presented. The second meeting of the ICTM Study Group on Music and Dance in Southeastern Europe achieved the essential balance in researching two aspects of an integral domain of human expressive behavior – music and dance.

 Thanks to the accompanying program, participants of the SEE Study Group meeting had opportunity to become more familiar with some of the rich cultural legacy of Turkey (visit to Selçuk and Anatolian-Balkan traditional costumes museums, excursion to Ephesus ancient city, several exciting concerts of folk and classical Turkish music and dance at Ege University, but also the joint experience of the traditional music and dance performances in the local restaurant). Beside the useful and exciting intellectual exchange, the participants of the Izmir meeting had also an opportunity to enjoy participating together in the common, but at the same time diverse repertoire of South European and Balkan dance and music, which most of them performed together during the evening hours.

Selena Rakočević­­­­­­­­