How to dance albanian

North Albania’s Most Popular Folk Dances

North Albania’s Most Popular Folk Dances - Into Albania

Into Albania

Into Albania

Albanian Folk Dance, Source:

Albanian culture and tradition cannot be fully understood without first having witnessed the country’s traditional folk dances. In addition to the music, the particular choreography and costumes are fascinating elements of these dances, revealing as much about the specific region they represent as any history book! 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 north includes some of the most beautiful and most technically challenging dances, which are mostly characterized by displays of bravery and strength. The dueling dance and the bravery dance, along with several other lyric folk dances, have earned a much-deserved privileged position in Albanian popular culture. But, which ones are the north’s best-known folk dances? Below we offer our three picks of the most popular ones!

There are many reasons this dance sits comfortably in the first place! Unlike the name suggests, this folk dance is not only characteristic of the city of Tropojë but of the entire area of the Highlands of Gjakovë. In addition to its beautiful, dramatic melody, it is the elegant movements of the women accompanied by the determined movements of the men that give the dance its particular appeal. The men’s extension of the arms mimics that of a flying eagle which, as a result of its strong patriotic connotations, ensures the dance’s special place in the hearts of all Albanians. (For a wonderful interpretation of this folk dance, please click here).  

The extremely quick movements, energy and adrenaline of this particular dance make it a favorite of wedding parties. Seen almost as a rite of passage, the dancers who are able to keep up and take this dance all the way to its challenging conclusion are looked upon with awe and admiration. Its ever-increasing rhythm ups the enthusiasm level of any celebration and it is quite amazing to witness ordinary people who dance with the same elegance as professional dancers. (A version of this dance can be seen here.)

Dibra’s double dance is a folk dance, traditionally danced by men. Its proud movements are executed by two dancers who use each other as support for its most difficult steps. Performed in traditional costume including a vest, a traditional woolen cap, and a characteristic red handkerchief, this folk dance blends the boundaries between folk dance and theatre. Through it, men were historically able to show their strength and prowess, a crucial message to convey in the once warlike area of the north. (An extraordinary version of the dance can be seen here).

Article By



The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Introduction to
Albanian Dance Forms in Kosovo

By Janet Reineck, 1985

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Kosovo is bordered on the north and east by the Republic of Serbia, in the south by the Republic of Macedonia, and in the west by the Republic of Albania. It covers an area of close to 11,000 square miles, divided in 22 administrative districts. Kosovo has a population of approximately 1.6 million: over 80% Albanian, 13% Serbian, with smaller numbers of Montenegrins. Turks, ethnic Muslims, and Romanis (1982 statistics). The majority of the Albanian population is Moslem, with a smaller number of Catholics.

Kosovo dance falls into the broader family of north Albanian folklore, but contextual and choreographic factors make it unique. Among the Kosovo Albanians century-old forms of dance and music are not only still vital in lives of parents and grandparents, but are surviving the effects of urbanization, maintaining functional integrity among the youth. In many rural settings, these forms retain a strong, unadulterated character rooted in the historically tribal patriarchal social organization and agricultural and pastoral subsistence patterns of the Albanians.

The separate male and female realities that Muslim Albanians experience are reflected in dance events. Movement styles display the epitome of the Albanian conception of "feminine" and "masculine" expression and take on contrasting forms that must be described independently.


The most common contemporary dance form in Kosovo is the dance of unmarried women and brides know as kcim. It is usually performed to the accompaniment of unison singing and one or two def (large tamborine), typically as a solo, duet, or by several maidens performing the kcim single-file, unattached, in a closed counterclockwise circle (kcim në rreth të mbyllur). The kcim occurs today among Albanians throughout Kosovo at most festive gatherings including calendrical holidays – St. George's Day (Shingjergj) and the first day of Spring (Verza) – circumcisions and engagement celebrations, but its most essential function comes into play during the wedding process.

Stylistically, during the kcim, the head and torso are held relaxed and upright with subtle movements sympathetic to the hand gestures. In solo dancing, the eyes are usually cast downward. In duets, the maidens tend to focus upon each other. Expression is centered in gentle gestures of the hand and fingers. The hands are held at shoulder height, arms relaxed and bouncing slightly from the shoulders in a steady beat usually on the even 4/8 meter, creating a contrapuntal rhythm in opposition to the syncopated step pattern. The ost common step pattern is symmetrical, most typically a walk forward in a small counterclockwise circle or from side to side, syncopating the even 4/8 meter.


The roots of traditional Albanian men's dancing are in the ancient valle liftarke (fighting dances). Albanian dance scholars believe that these dances involved in northern Albania and Kosovo as a demonstration of skill by warriors gathered in anticipation of battle, and as a reenactment of important battle motifs. Through time, these improvised pantomimic gestures became more and more stylized and dance-like, while maintaining their essentially "epic" character. Today in Kosovo this epic motif appears among Albanians in two basic forms: as an improvised solo or duet, and as a set sequence performed by several dancers on a counterclockwise circular path. Both forms are accompanied by zurna (double-reed horn) and lodër (lodërti or daulle or tupan – large double-headed bass drum).

In the solo or duet form, arm, leg, and torso movements are improvised within a defined movement vocabulary to a 2/4 or 7/8 rhythm. Arm movements mimic the brandishing of weapons. The style is strong, broad, and heavily accented. Arms are held away from the body, slightly flexed, and lifted to the sides, occasionally crossing the body in front and back. Legs tend to be turned out 45° at the hip joint, maintaining a slight knee flexion, while executing wide traveling steps, holds, lifts, advances, retreats, and heel-toe touches, accenting each movement with a heel drop from the supporting leg. The dancer casts a concentrated gaze upon his "opponent. " The most well-known version of this dance is from the ethnographic region of Rugovo in western Kosovo.

The second form of valle luftarke is performed by men in a circular formation, executing a series of movement patterns cued by the dance leader. Often, these dances are grouped in a fixed series comprised of from 5 to 12 dances based upon a set of motifs that are linked together in combinations improvised by the dance leader. Each dance in the series is distinguished by the rhythm in which it is performed (3/4, 4/4, 7/8, 9/8, and 12/8 meters) and the manner in which the dancers are attached (hand, shoulder, and finger holds in an open or in a closed circle of unattached dancers). This is still the dominant male dance form in Gora, Has, Karadak, Opoja, and Podrimja.


Open-circle dances are common in towns and villages throughout Kosovo. The two most popular step patterns are also performed by Macedonians, Romanis, Serbs, and Turks where they are sometimes known as Lesnoto and Čupurlika. In Kosovo, both dances are usually referred to simply as valle (line dances – as opposed to kcim, solo and duet forms). In some regions, Čuipurlika is known as Sheriange (the city dance). Depending on dance context, the dances may be sexually segregated or mixed. Musical accompaniment ranges from zurla and lodër to tambourine to accordion ensemble to amplified urban orchestra, complete with keyboard and trap drums. Rhythms for the valle are 7/8 (counted slow-quick-quick) and 2/4 meters.


An introduction to dance in Kosovo would not be complete without touching upon the widespread dance form known as Shota. Popularized through the performances by Albanian and non-Albanian amateur and professional ensembles since the late 1940's, Shota is often recognized (by Albanians and non-Albanians) as the symbol of Kosovo folklore. The dance, which was choreographed to be a flirtatious love duet between a boy and girl, is simply an expanded version of the kcim. The name Shota is derived from the song "Shota, Shota Marshalla" which is often sung or played as accompaniment.


  • Albania, a country.

Used with permission of the author.
Printed in Kolo Festival Syllabus, 1985.

This page © 2018 by Ron Houston.
Please do not copy any part of this page without including this copyright notice.
Please do not copy small portions out of context.
Please do not copy large portions without permission from Ron Houston.

International Folk Dance and Music Festival "DURRES FEST" | EAFF

We are pleased to INVITE you (folklore groups, choirs, orchestras, majorette groups), (children, youth and adults) to take part in the II International Folklore Dance and Music Festival "DURRES FEST" September 1-5, Durres, Albania 2022.

This festival is a great opportunity for groups from different countries to get together to show the peculiarities of their culture and nation through dance, music and interesting national costumes.

Durres is the second largest city in Albania, located on the central Albanian coast, about 33 km west of the capital Tirana. This is one of the most ancient and economically significant cities in Albania. Durres is home to the main port of Albania, the port of Durres, as well as the newest public university, Alexander Moisiu University. Durres is an important link with Western Europe due to its port and its proximity to the port cities of Italy, in particular to Bari, to which there are daily ferries. Along with the shipyard, the manufacturing industry is also developed here, especially for the production of leather, plastics and tobacco products. Some important buildings in Durrës include the main library, the cultural center with the Alexandra Moisiu Theatre, the Estrada Theatre, the Puppet Theatre, and the Philharmonic Orchestra Theatre. There are also several museums such as the Archaeological Museum of Durrës, the Royal Villa of Durrës and the Museum of History (House of Alexander Moisiu).

The city is home to the ancient city wall of Durrës, called Durrës Castle, as well as the largest amphitheater in the Balkans, located in the city near the harbour. This first-century structure is currently being considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The southern coastal stretch is known for its traditional mass beach tourism, which has survived uncontrolled urban development. The city's beaches are also a popular destination for many foreign and local tourists, with around 800,000 visitors annually. Many Albanians from Tirana and elsewhere spend their summer holidays on the beaches of Durres. In 2012, new wastewater systems are being installed to completely eliminate seawater pollution. In contrast, the north coast is largely unspoiled and is becoming an upmarket tourist destination since 2009.many beach resorts are being built. The surrounding areas are known for producing good wine and a variety of food products.

Festival program:

September 1, 2022

14. 00 Arrival in Durres, hotel accommodation and meeting with representatives of the festival, free time (beach)

18.00 – 20.00 Welcome dinner for group leaders

2900 900

September 2, 2022

07.30 – 10.00 Breakfast

10.00 - 15.00 Inspection of the sights of Durres with local guides (optional) or free time on the beach

17.00 - 18.00 Dinner at the hotel

19.00 Parade of ensembles and an official festival evening on the city of Durres


07.30 – 10.00 Breakfast

10.00 – 16.00 Sightseeing in Cruje with local guides, visits to historical monuments and museums (optional) or free time on the beach

17.00 - 18.00 Dinner at

19 – 18.00 Dinner at the hotel

21.30 Closing ceremony of the festival – farewell party for all participants and disco

September 5, 2022

07.30 – 10.00 Breakfast

12.00 Departure

Basic participation rules:
  • All folklore groups, orchestras, majorette groups, modern dance groups, choirs and musical groups from all over the world can take part in the festival.

  • The festival has no competitive nature and is intended for traditional and modern dance groups, choirs, majorette ensembles, brass and other orchestras.

  • Any group wishing to participate must apply to participate. All completed and signed applications signify acceptance of the conditions set forth in this regulation.

  • The number of participants is limited (only 3 groups from each country).

  • Ensemble must prepare at least 2 dances of 10-15 minutes each with USB or orchestra. The performances will be in the evening hours, so you will have the opportunity to plan the daytime in advance and use it to visit historical sites.

  • Send us a short story and 2-3 photos of the band by email.

  • Each group must send us a list of all participants, including their first and last names, gender, dates of birth and passport numbers.

  • Each group must have the flag of their country.

  • Folk groups must have their own transport for arrival and departure.

Participation fee:
  • 89 Euro per person for 3 HB (3 nights with meals 2 times a day)

  • 119 Euro per person for 4 HB (4 nights with meals 2 times a day)

    • This includes accommodation (leaders and bus drivers are offered 2 double rooms, and the rest of the participants - 3 and 4-bed rooms), meals 2 times a day, 3 * hotels in Durres, Albania: Blue Sky, Skampa, San Pietro, Orient…

    • An extra day can be booked for EUR 30 per person.

    • For groups of 25 people: One leader for free!

Participation fee includes:
  • Participation in festival concerts

  • Accommodation in 3* hotels (3 and 4-bed rooms, supplement for a double room - 5 euros per person per day, supplement for a single room - 15 euros per person per day)

  • Half board accommodation

  • Welcome buffet for group leaders

  • Souvenir and gift for each group

  • Participation certificate

  • Drinks during performances

  • Free parking for buses

Participation fee does not include:
  • Transport

  • Optional activities

  • Insurance

  • Anything not mentioned in the "Participation fee includes" section

For groups arriving by plane, transportation will be arranged from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport. Transfer from the airport to the hotel and back is paid extra.

By submitting an application for participation, you confirm that you accept all the conditions of the festival. Detailed information will be provided to you after confirmation of participation.

An invitation letter will be provided if necessary.

* The organizer of the festival reserves the right to change the program of the festival.

Groups wishing to participate must complete an Application Form.
Approved groups pay a 10% guarantee fee in advance, which is deducted from the final payment.


drinking coffee, close family ties and celebrating events in the circle of a large Albanian family ... It is unusual that families have many children, which means many holidays, one of the most important and expected with great love is a wedding ...

We recently calculated that my husband, by Albanian standards, does not have a very large family: only 2 brothers and a sister, 7 nephews, 3 aunts and 3 uncles with their soul mates, but we counted more than 20 cousins ​​and sisters (and some of them not yet married), what can we say about more distant relatives, because there are cousins ​​and aunts with their large families . .. And all these close relatives must be present at the wedding, so weddings in Albania turn out to be quite large in number guests... There are many great venues in Albania for such global events - from modest restaurants in the countryside to chic hotel-restaurants with swimming pools and areas for offsite registration and coc Teyla...

During the 2.5 years of my life in Albania, I managed only once to attend a beautiful European wedding in Tirana, when we married our Russian girlfriend. The remaining 7 weddings (we missed 2 more when we went to Russia) were traditional... For me, as a foreigner, every wedding is an incredibly interesting event, because depending on the religious affiliation of the family and traditions, each wedding can be different ...

At an Albanian wedding, they walk for 3 days, and what is curious - the bride and groom celebrate separately with their relatives ... On Friday, guests gather in the courtyard of a private house, and not only relatives and neighbors, but anyone can come , because the doors of the house are open for everyone who is ready to share the joy of a long-awaited event with their families. .. This evening folk music sounds, Albanians dance a lot, and guests are treated to traditional Turkish delight and sweets, as well as drinks: brandy, coffee, juice... Dancing usually lasts until midnight, or even longer ...

Saturday is the bride's day! In the morning, relatives from afar (those who were not at the Friday evening) usually come to the bride’s house “from the ship to the ball”, as well as the bride’s uncles to personally congratulate the head of the family (as a rule, this is the male part - dad, grandfather, great-grandfather) and, according to tradition, after drinking a cup of aromatic coffee, give a wedding gift (in most cases, I noticed, they give money). Traditionally, uncles used to bring a dressed-up calf with them to the sounds of drumming and folk melodies of musicians in traditional costumes accompanying them, but now such a procession is organized quite rarely, most likely in villages or in the private sector...
At the appointed hour, the bride's guests arrive at the restaurant. In Albania, weddings are often "daytime" from 12 to 17. In fact, this is convenient for relatives who need to return home to another city on the same day. "Evening" weddings start at 8-9 pm and last until the morning ... Needless to say, the Albanians are very hospitable people, during the evening the dishes on the table change one after another, so many meat dishes per person for one festive dinner or lunch I I saw it for the first time in Albania ... It is simply impossible to leave hungry! :)

Sunday is the final wedding day, the celebration takes place in a restaurant, but with the groom's guests! On this day, the groom and his family come to the bride's house. Redemption, as such, does not exist in Albania, they are limited only to drinking coffee and communicating with a new family. According to tradition, when leaving the house, the bride goes along the "happy path" - they pour rakia on the ground and throw sweets into the air with best wishes for the newlyweds... I didn’t know any of the guests at that time, I got bored of listening to the same, as it seemed to me, Albanian musical motives for 5 hours and looking at the monotonous dances of the guests in a circle . .. In addition, according to tradition, we had to wait for the host (he dj) will announce our family, only after that we could go dancing. This tradition exists mainly among the people from Northern Albania. At weddings, there is absolutely no entertainment in the form of competitions for guests, the only consolation is dancing! Albanians are a very dancing nation. One Albanian told me: "where there is a feast, there is always a place for dancing", whether it is a wedding or just a dinner with a large family.

One of my favorite moments at the wedding is a traditional dance in national costumes... Albanians dance beautifully and very emotionally, bright costumes illuminate with their brilliance and energize the whole hall :) I have a very short video left of one of the weddings, because the legs and arms just start dancing on their own, so there is no time left for photo and video shooting...

It is wonderful that the people have preserved their centuries-old traditions, which we can observe even now. .. Of course, the horses that used to bring brides to the grooms' house were replaced by wedding corteges, and festive fireworks replaced shots in the air from machine guns, national costumes were replaced by chic wedding dresses and tuxedos, and the celebration was moved from a village house to beautiful restaurants... Nevertheless, the essence remains the same: to be happy in marriage! In Albania, the percentage of divorce cases is still very low, which is an indicator of a happy life for each individual family and the nation as a whole!

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