Jimdo Spotlight: Dunava

What's the story behind Dunava?
The story behind Dunava is the story of the evolution of Balkan singing in the United States. I'm not sure who did it first, and whether the songs came independently or with the rising popularity of Balkan folkdances, but certainly one of the first influential groups was The Pennywhistlers, led by Ethel Raim in the 1960s. Since then, Balkan music and dance has steadily gained popularity in the US and women's choirs have sprung up in many major cities -- some amateur, some professional. Dunava was founded when Dina was considering joining Kitka in the Bay Area, but could not imagine leaving her home city of Seattle. Seattle had had many iterations of Balkan choirs in the past, but when the latest version disbanded, the opportunity was there to start fresh and introduce new singers to this music.


Are you from the Balkans?
No! Well, one of our singers is from Bulgaria, and we are so happy to have her. Aside from Tedy, we are all Americans. Hila was born in Israel, and Dina was born in Germany, but the international connection stops there.


How do you get your music?
Lots of ways! We hire professional singers for workshops and ask them to teach us new songs. We attend other classes (many of them at Balkan music camps in California and Oregon), and share repertoire with other singers and groups. Some songs we transcribe from recordings or YouTube. Sometimes our singers will travel to the Balkans and "collect" songs from groups and singers over there. There is certainly no shortage of beautiful songs from the Balkans!


What has been the most rewarding part of being in the ensemble?

Singing this music is immensely satisfying! We memorize all our songs, and there is nothing like standing on stage, looking and smiling at each other, while locking in to some complicated harmonies that are so otherworldly and so beautiful. Aside from bringing this music to life, we have great camaraderie in the group. Some of our best memories singing together include discovering that we all know Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsodie" from start to finish and that we share an affinity for many Broadway and Disney musicals. We very much enjoy each others' company and respect each others' musicianship.


How has having a Jimdo website benefited Dunava?
More than I can count! Believe it or not, but people actually search for Balkan choirs in Seattle on Google, and there we are. Numerous people have contacted me for auditions through the site, and we've found several performance opportunities. Similarly, when we are applying for a grant or festival application, we know our Web site can give anyone a good idea of who we are, what we do, and how to contact us.


For a list of Dunava's upcoming shows go to

Photos by Steve Borzilleri and Rik Katz | Video by Dunes Wijayratne.

Ana R. Alvarado

Public Relations

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Comments: 14 (Discussion closed)

  • #1

    chiyyan (Thursday, 03 May 2012 09:23)

    very nice

  • #2

    sivasenthil (Thursday, 03 May 2012 09:41)


  • #3

    Ahmet Gaygusuz (Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:05)


  • #4

    Sergiu Ghilescu (Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:49)


  • #5

    Kate (Thursday, 03 May 2012 22:52)

    Very interesting interview :)

  • #6

    Ana R. Alvarado (Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:12)

    Thanks Kate!

  • #7

    Vena Jensen Blitsch (Sunday, 06 May 2012 01:42)

    Love it! Thanks for the post!

  • #8

    BIN (Sunday, 06 May 2012 03:58)

    very well

  • #9

    nnikiljune (Sunday, 06 May 2012 17:55)

    Good I like it

  • #10

    foren-liste (Sunday, 20 May 2012 12:19)

    very nice

  • #11

    Hamilton Argueta (Tuesday, 22 May 2012 05:01)

    I liked very much

  • #12

    jensen12 (Monday, 25 June 2012 12:16)

    Thank you for sharing these stuff. Liked the story behind Danova and a few other important things which I was never aware of. Jimdo seems to play a major role behind Dunava’s success. Hope it will help many such in near future, in fact it is helping many…..

  • #13

    Mladen (Thursday, 28 June 2012 17:19)

    Actually, being from Jugoslavija, I would have to say that everything about this group is culturally insulting to the people and cultures of the region. Balkan is the name of a mountainous region in Bulgaria. The name was used in an insulting manner by Habsburg monarchy to describe in a belittling way and collectively these different people and cultures. I also listened to some of the songs and the songs from Serbia were sang in a manner typical for Ilirians (who have disappeared as an entity but are still alive and well, spread among Serbs, Hrvats, Bosnians and to lesser extent Bulgarians and Macedonians. Contrary to propaganda of the day, Albanians are NOT descendants of Ilirians, although there certainly are some there too), when these songs actually sound quite different when sung by Serbians. All in all, misguided and completely misinformed bunch of usa wannabees. What's new under the sun...?

  • #14

    discovery (Thursday, 05 July 2012 01:49)

    Actually, the name Jugoslavija was also belittling and insulting to some during its relatively short term in history. Take a chill pill Mladen. No one needs your version of an attempt at a history and cultural lesson here.