Nijemo Kolo, silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2008 by Ministry of culture
The Nijemo Kolo is practised by communities in the Dalmatian hinterland, in southern Croatia. Nijemo Kolo is performed in a closed circle with male dancers leading female partners in energetic, spontaneous steps – the male dancer publicly testing the skills of his female partner, seemingly without defined rules. The steps and figures, often vigorous and impressive, depend on the mood and desire of the participants. The defining feature of the silent circle dance is that it is performed exclusively without music, although vocal or instrumental performances may precede or follow the dance. Nijemo Kolo is traditionally performed at carnivals, fairs, feast days and weddings, and acts as a way for young women and men to meet and get to know each other. Differences in the performance of the Nijemo Kolo from one village to another are also a way for the residents to distinguish their identities. The dance is transmitted from generation to generation, although increasingly this occurs through cultural clubs where its movements have been standardized. Some villages of the Dalmatian hinterland, however, preserve the spontaneous performance of steps and figures. Today, Nijemo Kolo is mostly danced by village performing groups at local, regional or international festivals and at local shows, carnivals or on the saint days of their parish church.