Banaćankso kolo, ko ga ne bi vol’o? (41)
The second song we will look at in our series on Velika Narodna Lira, the first in the “B” section, is a kolo song. The name once again gives this away! A kolo is an uptempo chain dance, often performed in a closed circle or a line, found in many parts of the Balkans. Kolos are performed at many community and family celebrations.
From the title, we know that this particular song (and its associated kolo) come from the Banat, a region straddling the Hungarian-Romanian-Serbian borders. In Serbia, it is part of Vojvodina, the northern part of the country.
Kolos have become an important part of cultural heritage preservation. For Serbs, specifically, Serbian “folklore” dance groups are popular not only in Serb communities across the Balkans, but also throughout the Serbian diaspora. Children and adults who perform in these groups dress in the traditional costumes of various regions and perform dances typically associated with those regions – including kolos.
Here are the lyrics the book gives to the song:
Banaćankso kolo, ko ga ne bi vol’o?
Okreće se lako, evo vi’š, ovako…
Na Marini seferini
A u Đoke zlatne toke
Kolo vodi Vasa, ala se talasa;
Vasa pored Dese sve se kolo trese.
Zlatna grana izatkana,
Danka tkala, Stanku dala…
A Banat kolo, who wouldn’t love it?
It’s easy to turn, look here, like this…
Marina is wearing sovereigns,
And Đoka golden discs.
Vasa leads the kolo, it waves back and forth;
Vasa beside Desa, the whole kolo shakes.
A golden branch is woven,
Danka wove it, and gave it to Stanka.
RTS says that the music and text are from a “national author.” Other than the geographic clue that this song comes from the Banat, it’s not certain when and from whom this song and its text emerged.
There are various other versions of the lyrics floating around. The song is also known as “Vasino kolo” or “Kolo vodi Vasa.” This is because the song often starts with the stanza that begins, “Kolo vodi Vasa, ala se talasa,” followed by “Na Marini seferini,” which is then sometimes followed by “Banaćansko kolo…” In fact, in the version linked above, the line “Banaćansko kolo, ko ga ne bi vol’o?” is never sung. Two other versions with longer lyrics can be found on this forum.
The most popular version on YouTube is sung by a woman named Anđelka Goveđarović. Goveđarović is originally from Srem, in Vojvodina, and she is well-known for her performances with the group KUD “Španac” as well as her solo performances on various radio stations and at folk music festivals. She is primarily focused on songs from Vojvodina and has been recognized for her role in their preservation.
She has at least five videos of this song online with tens of thousands of views: the most-viewed video has 213K (2015). Her earliest performance of the song available on YouTube is from an RTS broadcast in 1982; it is part of a medley with “Lepo ti je u našemu Sremu.”
More recently, she performed the song on RTS in 2017, where it has been given the hashtag #60najlepsih, meaning that they have labeled this song one of the 60 most beautiful “narodne pesme,” or people’s songs.
Another version of the song is by Jelena Dejanović, which is surely earlier than the Goveđarovic versions, although I wasn’t able to track down the exact date on that recording.
Dejanović, born in 1930, was a popular folk singer first associated with Radio Beograd. Apparently, upon marrying her second husband Aleksander Dejanović, who sang songs from Vojvodina, she moved to Vojvodina and begun singing with Radio Novi Sad. She herself was not born in this region, nor had she lived there prior, but this marriage marked a shift in her career, in which she started to specialize in songs from Vojvodina.
KUD Joža Vlahović also recorded the song in 1972 with a mixed choir providing the vocals – a bit of a different sound, and one I really enjoy for this tune. From my understanding, KUD Joža Vlahović was from Zagreb (they are now called the Zagreb Folklore Ensemble “Dr. Ivan Ivančan”). The arrangement of the song is attributed to Dr. Ivančan, an influential ethnochoreologist and choreographer, although the composer is listed as “tradicionalna.”
Besides Dejanović’s and KUD Joža Vlahović’s versions, almost all of the versions of the song available on YouTube are live performances on Serbian television or videos of children’s dances (and a few of singing festivals). There are quite a few videos of live dance performances and competitions, indicating that this is a relatively popular song on the folklore scene. Children dress up in the costume traditionally associated with the Banat: white pants, shirts, skirts, vests, and wide-brimmed hats. I would like to wear this outfit.
The website Folk Dance Musings, also linked above, provides a concise description of how to dance this particular kolo. Wikipedia also has a description of how the dance should be done (in Serbian). Although I personally couldn’t learn a dance from a written text, I’m glad this exists.
You can see one of the many videos of children performing the dance here, and maybe get a bit better of an idea of what this description looks like. Whereas these guys are clearly technically more talented, this video is extremely cute and shows the costumes I was referring to earlier.
But beyond its folkloric performance, the song is present in today's culture in a few interesting instances I was able to find. Novosti published an article in 2018 describing how three young Afghan refugees lead the kolo to the song “Kolo vodi Vasa” as part of the Day of Migrants celebration in Obrenovac, near Belgrade. “The public was captivated by their costumes from the Banat,” it reads.
The song is used a bit more symbolically on a Serbian comedy TV show, Državni posao, where one character incessantly dances and sings “Banaćansko kolo,” commenting on Serbian culture and folklore as the “foundation of life” while he dances around the office. Later in the video, another character calls the Banaćansko kolo “easy,” and asks the dancing character to give him something “Serbian.” Song and dance have a special place in the Serbian cultural consciousness, but they are not, by any means, uniform within the borders of the modern Serbian state.
You can find a collection of all the songs from Velika Narodna Lira that are available on Spotify on my playlist.