Balladina's history

In 1989 Balladina was formed by folk-dancers to sing and play traditional and contemporary folk-dance music from many cultures on a wide variety of instruments, wearing equally diverse folk costumes.

In its "international folk-dance" days, Balladina played dance tunes from Israel, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Armenia, Hungary, and others, but even then, a large part of its repertoire was Balkan folk music, including Greek and Romanian dances and Croatian choral songs, and especially tunes from the rich Macedonian and Bulgarian traditions.

From 1993 to 1995, Balladina worked with a Kuwaiti musician, Amer Jaafár, to add Middle-Eastern music as one of its specialties. This repertoire includes "classical" or "art" music -- compositions in the mode-based style which evolved over centuries as court and religious music -- as well as more modern popular songs and dance music of Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey, and other countries, based on the same system of modes.

Since 1997 Balladina has narrowed its focus to music of the Balkans, mainly Bulgarian dance music using traditional and modern instruments, and Macedonian Rom (Gypsy) dance music. This narrower focus allows us to hone our skills on a few styles, producing more authentic performances and better dance energy.

One of Balladina's goals is to promote an appreciation for diverse cultures through their music and dance, in hopes that this will increase world peace and understanding.

Balladina has performed for:

BALLADINA FOLK ORCHESTRA: Personnel and Instruments


Middle-Eastern tambourine
dumbek (DOOM-bek)
hourglass-shaped drum of Balkans and Middle East
kaval (kuh-VAHL)
Bulgarian wood flute. Click here to hear a kaval (116K, 8 bit .wav)
More info on Bob Snider's Kaval Page
tambura (tahm-boo-RAH)
Balkan "guitar"
tupan (TUH-pahn)
large 2-headed Balkan drum
See also: Bulgarian Folk Instruments article at Lark in the Morning.


"Thank you so much for the absolutely wonderful music at the Arboretum's Fall Festival. Your music is so spirited and infectious -- everyone wants to dance! You were certainly one of the highlights of the Festival."
--The Mount Pisgah Arboretum, Nov. 1993
"Balladina is that rare kind of folk ensemble that rings true. They look authentic, they sound authentic, and they're having a whale of a time entertaining you. Their real international flavor is right on the mark, and they'll take you along on a musical journey to exotic places. Bon voyage!"
--Karen Kammerer, Music Reviewer, Eugene Register-Guard
"Balladina delivered several energetic, high-quality, well-rehearsed performances which left audiences smiling (and, in many cases, dancing). The members of the group were extremely professional and easy to work with. ... I recommend Balladina without reservation."
--Margaret Lawrence, Assistant director of Programming, Hult Center for the Performing Arts
"This letter is written to recommend Balladina as an authentic, fascinating, and professional performing group. ...
Besides performing for the "Earport", members of the group met with smaller groups of children and parents and shared a personal view of being in such a group, information about the cultures they represent, opinions about differing styles represented by the group, and shared beautiful costumes they had collected from all around the world. This in-depth look at performers and their music helps to break down the invisible barrier between performers and audiences. ...
Experiencing Balladina's performance was enchanting. I was especially impressed at the cohesive attitude portrayed through the music, even while playing in meters of 15/16!"
--Mj. Hillstrom, Local Coordinator for the Oregon Bach Festival's "International Earport" children's program
Comments or suggestions? Send e-mail to "webmaster (at] balladina . org"