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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

The Drmeš
By AMAN, 1980



The word drmeš means "shaking dance." In earlier times, in the northwestern part of Croatia, each village had one or more tunes to which its particular drmeš patterns could be performed. Typically, a drmeš would alternate its shaking patterns with some kind of traveling step, each of which could be of indeterminate length, often depending upon the will of an acknowledged leader or sometimes the general mood of a group of dancers who were used to dancing with each other.

To the people of any given village, the word drmeš would be synonymous, very often, with the word for dance. To someone in a village in Posavina, for example, it was not necessary to call the dance Posavski drmeš, because that was the only drmeš danced in that place. There were, of course, localities where more than one dance of this type existed, but a repertoire of some 200 dances, not at all unknown among American folk dancers, was simply unheard of.

Today, these drmeš dances have all but been forgotten in some parts of Croatia. In the fairly rare cases where they are performed, they often are danced in couples and look very much like a polka. In some instances, they are in fact called polka. Sometimes, a small circle of dancers, usually older, will get up at a wedding or other celebration, and dance some of the older patterns that appear to be in "poor repair." What does exist, however, is a group of drmeši, reconstructed from memories of these older dancers, for presentation at such regional festivals as the Smotra Folklore in Zagreb. The result of such activities is the creation of a sort of "living museum" of dances.

From the 1980 AMAN Institute syllabus.