Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.
– Martha Graham
Dancing is a universal language that brings different people together. All countries have their national dances. The Armenian dance is one of the oldest, richest, and most varied in the world.
HISTORY OF ARMENIAN DANCES
Armenian dance art has a history of centuries. The unique and beautiful art has reflected the spiritual rich world of the Armenian people, their courage and heroism, mildness and lyricism, sharp humor and a good smile. The whole history of the Armenian people, its lifestyle and morals have been expressed in dances.
In ancient times all dances were born, lived, and disappeared. A few of them succeeded to survive and reach to present day. Armenian dances got its professional increase and development only in years of Soviet.
Armenia had multiple regional cultures and traditions from ancient times. Obviously, many of them had their own characteristic dialects, for this reason, they directly contributed to the development of the rich diversity of Armenian dances. This heritage includes themes from agriculture to military activities or the hunt.
DANCE TYPES & TRADITIONS
Armenian dancers wear the traditional costume to illustrate the national culture and tell the story of ancestors. However, many factors, such as religious traditions and family values have a big impact on the development of these costumes.
The main types of Armenian dances are:
- dances, performed with musical instruments. The most common instruments are:
- davul / tahul (a large drum)
- zourna (primitive oboe)
- dudek sheeve
- mey (shepherd’s flutes)
- daf (tambourine)
- kemenche (fiddle)
- ashoog (troubadour)
- song-dances, performed with vocal accompaniment.
Now let’s take a view on folk, regional and other types of dances which will not leave anyone indifferent.
Armenian dances can be divided into several components.Let’s see the main types of movements.
The most important distinction is the content of dances, are the following groups:
- On the road
- Children and more.
Then speaking about Armenian dances, it is a worth to mention about Armenian national costumes, or TARAZ, which are not only different from each other but also characterize the region, province or a state.
FOLK DANCES & DESCRIPTIONS
So, let’s take a walk through the various folk dances from various parts of Armenia. Indeed, folk dances reflect the life of the people. They are massive (mixed) or group (men, women, children). The folk dances are performed with folk instruments, especially with the accompaniment of bagpipes (or zurnas) and dhol.
Kochari is one of the most popular and favorite dance in Armenia. Armenian people have been dancing Kochari for over a thousand years. The men and the women dance Kochari group by group. Under the tune of the ZURNA, the dancers put their hands on each other’s shoulders.
Shalakho is another dance from Ancient Armenia, and the main dancers are men. The first melody was written by Tigranyan (1895) for the piano.
The Tamzara is the original Armenian wedding song and dance. Among other dances, Tamzara is a combination of complicated moves. Additionally, there are more than 17 versions, but none of the dance performers have been able to explain the origin of the dance.
Yarkhushta associated with the highlands of the historical region of Sassoun in Western Armenia. It belongs to a wider category of Armenian “clap dances” (ծափ-պարեր). Men, who perform the dance, face each other in pairs. The key element of the dance is a forward movement when participants rapidly approach one another and vigorously clap onto the palms of hands of dancers in the opposite row.
The most “proud” dance among Armenian dance heritage is a Berd. The roots are from the old Vaspurakan city. Berd means “fortress” in Armenian and the name also symbolizes it because of the shape the dancers make. A circle of men stand on the shoulders of another circle and start rotating.
Indeed, the first dance at a wedding is typically an intimate moment shared by the bride and groom to a slow, romantic ballad. The name of Harsnapar comes from the Armenian hars (Հարս) which mean bride, and par (պար) which translates to dance. The bride is shown dancing a solo and may possibly feature the bridesmaids.
The name “Gorani” means noise, clutter, confusion, panic, scandal. The dance is a left and backward movement, the steps are directed both to the lifetime circle and beyond it, to the underworld. Another key point, that the entire plan of the dance plan shows the sunset.
Gyond (Գյոնդ or Գյովնդ)
Gyond is the oldest name of the world bowl which symbolizes the gathering or assembly. During the performance, all dancers are arranged side by side and move very slowly.
Menapar is a SOLO performance by one person, man or woman. Normally, if a man is a dancer, the music will be fast and otherwise, in the case of a woman, more elegant music will play.
Nazpar is a solo performance. A woman who performs it, dance very slowly.
Shurjpar means round dance, group dance. During this performance, dancers make a closed circle and start moving slowly.
Souserapar is a very strong and original dance with swords. This is a dance for men.
People dance Papuri to get rid of evil and avoid negative forces.
Zuykpar is a duet performance by man and woman. Normally the dance includes doing symmetrical movements.
Uzundara or bridal dance is one of the traditional Armenian ritual dances, mainly popular during wedding ceremonies. The bride dances it lonely or with a group of women.
Ververi is a community dance from “two go one back” dance family”.
Msho Khr (Մշոյ խըռ)
Originated in the region of Moush, Msho Khr is an Armenian dance type. The music of this dance is similar to Kochari’s melodies. The number of its movements, as well as Kochar, is eight.
Lorke is an Armenian ritual dance. It belongs both two categories: dance and dance-song. Although in the text of song you can meet Kurdish, it’s Armenian.
Tsakhkadzor is an Armenian ritual dance. Tsaghkadzor’s dance mainly danced in the Vaspurakan region during pilgrimages. Almost in every ceremony, people dance it.
Karno kochari (Կարնոյ քոչարի)
Karno kochari is very similar to main Kochari, originated in region of Karin (Կարին).
Ishkhanats par (Իշխանաց պար)
Ishkhanats par or Lord’s dance is very difficult performance. Other names are “Sheikhs”, “Shekhan”. It is a military dance. Because of its difficulty, mostly young boys performed this dance.
This is one of the Karno dances spread in Javakhk, from the family of “four legs”. Fndzhan dance is registered by Zhenya Khachatryan.
Kertsi is an Armenian military dance. The name of the dance came from the name of the village. There are assumptions that dance is hunting. This once again proves that the dance is military.
Kajats khagh (Քաջաց խաղ)
Kajats khagh, also known Rostam Bazys, is one of the Armenian military dances.
Tamour agha (Թամուր աղա)
This is an Armenian mourning dance. However, the main content of the dance is the mourning and the sword of the hero’s death, which is expressed through a dance around the grave.
Indeed, one of the most popular dances among Hamshen Armenians.
Asdvadzatsna (Աստուածածնայ պար)
Particularly, this is a slow dance. In the past, it was especially popular in Javakheti. Mostly they dance it during weddings or other events celebration.
Tars par (Թարս պար)
This is an Armenian traditional dance. It mostly h in the case of sadness, disasters. The other name of this dance is “Tarsus” because of its left motion.
Lutki is a dance-joke. Dancers go side-by-side, which does not change even when turning. Lutkin is only men’s dance in many places and only recently people started to dance in a mix.
Yerek votk (Երեք ոտք)
This dance is most common in Javakh.
Tchotchik is an Armenian folk dance, the main steps of which are the body movement from one foot to another, through swinging.
Khnamineri par (Խնամիների պար)
This is a part of a wedding dance and is still nowadays remember as a mandatory bridal dance.
Khosh bilazig (Խոշ բիլազիգ)
- Arabkir (Արաբկիրի Պար) – A dance from the Armenian city of Arabkir.
- Kesabian (Քեսապական) – The Kesabian dance came from the city of Kesab, Syria.
- Laz bar – originated among the fishermen of the Black Sea
- Vagharshapatian (Վաղարշապատյան)- The Vagharshapatian originated in Vagharshapat now known as Ejmiatsin.
- Zeytouni (Զեյթունի պար) – Zeytouni originated in Zeytun.
- Varaka Lerneri Bar
A NEW STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT
Since the 1990s, the new stage of development of Armenian folk dance has begun. Many dance groups and ensembles have been created, which have filled folk dance with elements of classical and choreographic styles, mostly creating a new direction in folk dance.
On the roots of Armenian dances are the works of Aram Khachatryan, Arno Babajanyan, Tigran Mansuryan, Avet Terteryan, Edgar Hovhannisyan, Grigor Hakhinyan, Robert Amirkhanyan, Ruben Altunyan, Sedrak Yerkanyan, Alan Hovhannes, Ara Gevorgyan. Founded by Sardarapat (1992, founder: Murat Hakobyan), Zartonk (1995, founder: Ghukas Ghukasyan), Aravot (2000, founder: Zaruhi Khachatryan), Valenc (2001, founder: Vahagn Gasparyan) Ensembles, “Shirkhan” Traditional Dance Ensemble (2003, founder Hovhannes Hakobyan), “Karin” traditional song and dance group (2001, founder Gagik Ginosyan) and others.
The beautiful movements of the Armenian cultural dance are adored by all audience around the world. The Armenian dances art has preserved samples that can properly get their unique place in the world dance treasure. In conclusion, we live in a world that dances…
Main Sources and Literature:
Armenian National Dances by A. Gharibyan, V. Borisov