Monday, November 23, 2009

The Kurdish people live in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northern Syria, and northwestern Iran (where there is a region called Kurdistan). Their highly rhythmic dances are traditionally done at all festivals including birthdays, circumcisions, weddings, and religious ceremonies. Unlike other neighboring Muslim populations, the dances are generally mixed-gender. They are done in lines, in pinky hold or shoulder hold, with the dancers very close together; the knees are easy, with a regular bouncing that carries through the shoulders. Two of the dances I learned in Turkey that I have been teaching this month - Keje and Gudi - are Kurdish dances. You can click on the Kurdish Dancing/Keje link to the right (under Dance Videos) to view an absolutely wonderful video of a group of teenage girls doing a medley of Kurdish dances.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I've just returned from a two-week folk dance tour of Turkey, which included classes taught by four different Turkish dance teachers. On the border between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey's wide variety of dances reflects its ancient and complicated culture. Each region has its own particular style and rhythm. Bar dances are found in the northeastern region, performed side by side, with different versions for men and women. Horon (meaning "round dance") is typical of the Black Sea coastal area; traditionally done by men dressed in black in 7/16 rhythm, these dances feature very fast and vigorous footwork. Zeybek dances symbolize courage and heroism; done in 9/4 or 9/8 rhythm, they are from the Western Anatolia region. Halay was originally done by men at weddings, in southeastern Turkey, but has become the national dance of Turkey and is danced in many different versions and at many different occasions. Throughout the next month, I'll be teaching several dances I learned on the trip, including Atabari, Keje, Koceri, and Harmandali. The photo in this post is of a class of children learning a dance at their school; we met their teacher, and danced a Halay with them.