Armenian dance is not just a combination of beautiful movements. Armenian traditional dance is a very powerful psychological and ideological weapon, as it combines the body and soul of dancers.
Have you ever thought about how it is to be Armenian, to think Armenian and to feel Armenian? If yes, then you should try to dance Armenian traditional dances.
This dance is a prominent way of self-expression in Armenia!
Armenian Dance Features
In Armenian dance each step is calculated. One knows what it means to go to the right or turn to the left, what it means to heel strike and so on.
Armenian dances stand out due to certain extraordinary features, which you will get to know now.
Armenian Dance Costumes and Garments
Armenian garments seem to accompany the traditional dances and make them look more Armenian. Each region of Armenia had its own costumes. These costumes are very colorful and diversified and have many varieties.
They are often adorned with a rich, deep red color. Armenian men preferred clothes made of wool and cotton fabrics, that had silky collared shirts, as well as side fasteners. Their broad shaped trousers were usually dark colored and made of cotton or wool.
The traditional dress of Armenian women is modest and has decency in its appearance. The women used to wear loose costumes having “arkhaluk” style with a cut on chest and cuts below hips.
The Spirit of Armenian Dances
Each nation has created a dance culture that expresses their national identity. Armenians have always fought for their independence, which has reflected the character of dances as well.
As a result, there are certain traditional martial dances, that are also called “fighting games”. The military dances were performed not only for victories, but also for the funeral ceremonies, especially when the deceased was connected with military action.
These dances were considered to be sacred dances, as they were expressing the spirit of a nation. Armenian dance was also a way of military discipline, because overcoming the technical difficulties of the martial dance meant that young people got physically and spiritually trained and tempered.
According to the tradition, Armenians were dancing also before going to the battlefield, which was aimed at raising the morale of the soldiers and inspiring them to unite. Sometimes these imitative dances predicted the successful or unsuccessful process of the battle.
Armenian Dance and Religion
Religion is one of the most significant characteristics of Armenian national dances.
As you may know, Armenians are the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Therefore, religion plays a huge role in the life of this nation. Starting from ancient times, they expressed this in their songs, music and dances. These dances helped the dancers to express their feelings.
Traditional Armenian Dance Songs
This kind of national dances never occurred alone, but rather accompanied with a song, clapping of hands, and musical instruments.
In Armenian dances, the dancers often sing themselves. The most common pattern of this performance is known as “call and response”.
The concept of “call and response” represents two singers singing the first part of the song, while the other two singing the last words back. Then the latter sing the 2nd part of the song and the former sing the last two words back and so the performance goes on. Interesting, isn’t it?
“The Head” and “the Tail” in the Armenian Dance
In Armenian dances it is very important to have a good group ”head”, who always stands at the beginning of the line and is responsible for the order in the line. The “head” also gives instructions to the members during the dance. Armenians call him “parbashi”, which is a very responsible position in the group line.
When the dance starts, the “parbashi” gives a sign to the others, usually by shouting ‘hey!’. If something changes in the dancing process, the “head” shouts ‘hey!’ to let everybody in the line know about it.
Not less important is the “tail” of the group, who is called “parapoch”. The “tail” coordinates the right direction of the dance and is responsible for finishing the dance in the same position where it started.
Some Popular Armenian Dances
Now, let’s see a few examples of wonderful Armenian traditional dances.
Armenian Dance #1: Yarkhushta
As we have already represented martial dances, here is one example of it, called “Yarkhushta”. “Yarkhushta” means “a friend of the weapon/arms”.
Yarkhushta contains performance of fighting scenes. The main element of the dance is the movement towards dancers of the opposite line. Dancers rapidly approach one another and fiercely clap onto the palms of dancers in the opposite row.
This is one of the most beautiful Armenian dances, that will make you want to dance regardless of your nationality and religion.
Armenian Dance #2: Ververi
This is probably the most famous traditional Armenian dance. Almost every Armenian person can dance it.
“Ververi” is considered to be the dance of a community or a village, where every member enjoys the process of dancing.
This dance is imitating the flight of the bird. Each jump is showing the willingness to fly high, while the movements of the hands symbolize the flight itself.
Armenian Dance #3: Tamzara
There are many interpretations of “Tamzara” (more than 17). This is a wedding dance, that nowadays is danced in almost every Armenian event.
Just like other Armenian dances, this one is also leaded by the “head” (“parbashi”).
Unfortunately this has lost its meaning of a wedding dance, but it is still one of the beloved ones in Armenia. Tamzara is quite easy to learn for foreigners as well. If you want to start learning Armenian traditional dances, then this is a beautiful and easy one to start with.
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- Armenian Quotes and Proverbs: Funny Quotes in Armenian!
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We have a solution for you.
If you visit Armenia then you will definitely have the opportunity to dance with Armenians for free. There are open air lessons of national dances that welcome everybody on last Friday of every month!
Surely enough, once you try to perform an Armenian dance, you will never forget neither Armenia, nor the emotions you experienced there!