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Formation Open circle. Men shoulder hold, women W-hold.
Dance Structure (A + (B1 x 2) + C + (B2 x 2)) repeated throughout the music.
Music Structure 4 counts/bar, 4 bar phrases.
Music Speed 120 counts/minute.
Pronunciation Varies. From Serbian including (in rough English phonetic) "nee-LAR-nay", "gnee-LAR-nay", "njee-LAR-nay" & "gnjee-LAR-nay". From Albanian "Zhee-LAR-nee".
Source Paja Milić at the Ex-Yugoslavia dance course in Bognor Regis in the UK in 2000 & at Balkan Festival in Zetten in the Netherlands in 2000.

Disclaimer: Mistakes are quite likely in the notes and no guarantees are made as to accuracy. There may be other versions of the same dance or other dances with the same name. Music may differ, particularly in speed, introduction and duration, between performers. The division into parts, bars & counts might not be standard. These notes of the dance are freely distributable (under GPL or CC-by-sa) in so much as the note's author's contribution but the choreography and/or collection were by other people and so their copyright might apply to the dance itself. Better than using notes, go to a dance class where it is taught by Paja Milić.

A popular dance which is fairly easy to follow and is not very fast but very distinctive (at least in the Men's styling). (For more detail see the 'Men's & Women's Versions' section.)

It crosses the music as the music is in 4 bar phrases but some of the Part A & C of the dance are only 2 bars long.

A controversial aspect, like with many ethnic things from former Yugoslavia, is which country to assign it to. Gnjilane is a town in what is, since 2008, the country of Kosovo. However when I was taught this dance Kosovo was still part of Serbia (albeit controversially so as it was just after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War), the teacher was Serbian (naturalised Dutch) & the dance labelled as Serbian. Whether the dance is ethnically Albanian/Kosovar or Serbian I do no know (although it looks more Albanian to me) nor what date it comes from - Gnjlane change from 50% to 80% Albanian from 1953 to 1988 (source: Wikipedia).

Also problematic was how to pronounce the name of the dance. I remembered it from the dance course as "Nee-lar-nay", i.e. silent 'G' & 'j' with long 'a'. I have also heard it as "Nyee-lar-nay" & "Gnee-lar-nay". However 'Gnjilane' is a Latin alphabet of Serbian Cyrillic 'Гњилане' which would phonetically be more like "Gnjee-lar-nay". However the town is predominately ethnically Albanian & the Albanian spelling is 'Gjilani' which is pronounced more like "Zhee-lar-nee". So "Nee-lar-nay" is probably an Anglicised version of a Dutch-influenced version of the Serbian name for an Albanian name! In cases though agree that the stress is on the 2nd syllable & there are 3 syllables. Well, other than English where it is bizarrely spelt 'Gjilan'!

Style: Small & subdued (Women's styling) or big & clunky (Men's styling).


Summary: None or whole number of phrases.

There is no specific introductory music so start at the beginning or after whole number of phrases.

Part A

Summary: To the R in (lift, step) x 3. L across infront, R replace.

Start Facing cw around the circle.
1 Lift R foot infront.
2 R forwards.
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 on opposite feet (L lift, L forwards).
1-2 Repeat bar 1 counts 1-2 (R lift, R forwards).
3 L across infront.
4 Transfer weight back onto R in place.

Part B1

Summary: Lift & 3 steps twice starting with L foot.

Start Facing centre.
1 Lift L foot infront.
2 L close.
3 R in place.
4 L in place.
2 Repeat bar 1 on opposite feet (lift R, step R L R in place).

Part C

Summary: Part A but mirrored, on the spot & turning 360 deg acw.

Start Facing the centre.
1 Lift L foot infront.
2 L forwards
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 on opposite feet (R lift, R forwards).
Turn 180 deg acw on the spot.
1-2 Repeat bar 1 counts 1-2 (L lift, L forwards).
3 R across infront.
4 Transfer weight back onto L in place.
Turn 180 deg acw on the spot.

This is essentially the same as Part A but done on the opposite feet and turning on the spot instead of travelling.

Part B2

Summary: B1 mirrored.

This is simply Part B1 mirrored done on the opposite feet.

Men's & Women's Versions

The lifts in the Women's version are small low gentle lifts only just off the floor and slightly infront.

The lifts in Men's version are huge lifts of the leg with bent knee taking the foot up to waist level then pushing the foot sole-first horizontally forwards as if kicking a locked door open. Lean back from the waist for counterbalance & emphasis. The stepping across infront (Parts A & C bar 2 count 3) is also dramatised: going down so far by bending the knees that the knee of the rear leg is almost touching the ground in a kneel and stand up again in the next step.

Traditionally this dance is done with men doing the Men's Version in separate line infront of women doing the Women's Version (but I think the Women's Version looks uninteresting so it is better if everyone does the Men's Version).