Ličko Kolo (leech-ko ko-lo) = kolo from Lika


Pjevaj mi, pjevaj = sing to me, sing


Once upon a time, in the Dinaric Alps on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia dwelt a transhumatic, ovindimaceous folk known as the Lichani. Years past, these migrant shepherds would pasture their flocks in mountain meadows during the hot summer months, on coastal plains during winter, and on the slopes in autumn and spring. As people frequently are, coastal townspeople were jealous of the shepherds' freedom of movement and closed off the coastal pastures, restricting the shepherds to slope and highland meadows. Overgrazing led to economic hardship and many of the Lichani emigrated to America.

These shepherds developed few musical instruments: primarily the gusla for epic poetry (their major art form) and bagpipes for annoying the landlord ambiance. Their dances are accompanied by singing or by just the rhythm of jingling "dowry" necklaces, and by the rhythm of feet beating the earth.

Lichko Kolo properly refers to many of these "silent kolos" but in the U.S. generally refers to that dance introduced by Dick Crum in 1957 and re-introduced by Atanas Kolarovski in 1969. A similar but more intricate and competitive version was presented by Elsie Ivanchich Dunin in 1967.

Note: the myth of dancing silently to avoid Ottoman troops is just that: a myth. The Dinaric Alps are remote enough that not only did the Ottomans not conquer them from the east, neither did the Renaissance penetrate from the west. This remoteness probably accounts for the atavistic leftward-movement of the dance, a characteristic of very old European dances with pre-Christian antecedents reflecting sun-worship.*


Open circle, kolovoda (leader) at L end, hands joined and held down, free hands also held down at sides.

* For further information on that pre-Renaissance classification, see page 1 of the Folk Dance Problem Solver (1987), and page 7 of the Folk Dance Problem Solver 1988.



2/4 Introduction.

1-? Dance the basic step until everyone is synchronized and your leader remembers how to start the song.

Basic step (2 bars per step): face to L and walk 3 steps to L onto: L foot, R foot, L foot (cts 1,2,1), step back away from center onto R foot, turning to face center slightly (ct 2).

Slow part. Dance maybe 80 beats per minute.

1-2 Leader sings: Pjevaj mi, pjevaj,

3-10 All sing: sokole, pjevaj mi, pjevaj, sokole, shalaj sokole,

(Sing to me, sing oh falcon,)

11-12 Dance 1 basic step silently.

Repeat pattern:

Leader sings: k'o shto si sinoch

All sing: pjevao, k'o shto si sinoch pjevao, shalaj pjevao,

(as you last night sang,)

Leader sings: pod moje drage

All sing: pendzherom, pod moje drage pendzherom, shalaj pendzherom.

(under my sweetheart's window.)

Leader sings: Moja je draga

All sing: zaspala, moja je draga zaspala, shalaj zaspala,

(My sweetheart fell asleep,)

Leader sings: studen joj kamen

All sing: pod glavom, studen joj kamen pod glavom, shalaj pod glavom.

(a cold stone under her head.)

Leader sings: Ja sam joj kamen

All sing: izmak'o, ja sam joj kamen izmak'o, shalaj izmak'o,

(I removed the stone,)

Leader sings: a svoju ruku

All sing: podmak'o, a svoju ruku podmak'o, shalaj podmak'o.

(and my arm put under it.)

Dance 3 extra silent steps (4 total) and then begin the fast part of the dance.

Fast part. Start maybe 160 beats per minute and vary speed at leader's discretion. The leader leads the broken circle into a serpentine, spiral, and zig-zag line.

2/4 Basic fast step.

1 Facing to L, leap smally forward onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).

2 Leap forward onto L foot (ct 1), hop on L foot and swing R foot forward a bit (ct 2).

3 Leap forward onto R foot (ct 1), hop on R foot and kick L foot forward a bit (ct 2).

Note: some notes say to kick L foot back, but that appears to be another dance.

Alternate fast step. Leader calls "hup" or some such word.

1 Facing to L, leap smally forward onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2).

2 Dance forward with 3 small, staccato stamps onto: L foot, R foot, L foot (cts 1,&,2).

3 Dance forward with 3 small, staccato stamps onto: R foot, L foot, R foot (cts 1,&,2).

When the leader decides to stop, he calls "Stoj!" (Stop! Don't move!)

Note: There exist many other fast steps, many competitive and tricky. These shepherds are lively folk! But some international folk dancers use steps here from a Bosnian silent dance, Glamoč. Yes, these two are related dances, but is it really necessary to mix them? For the purposes of recreational folk dancing, these two fast steps are quite representative and usually sufficient.


These notes are reproduced from Folk Dance Problem Solver - 1991, ©1991 by The Society of Folk Dance Historians

Bob Shapiro
(785) 286-0761
Copyright © 1996, Robert B. Shapiro
Revised March 17, 2000