Azerbaijani folk dances (Azeri. Azərbaycan Xalq rəqsləri; آذربایجان خالق رقسلری) – dance art of the Azerbaijani people. The musical size of Azerbaijani dances is 6/8 and 3/4. Azerbaijani folk dances have a very ancient history. This is evidenced by the rock carvings depicted in Gobustan. The first dances were of a ritual character, since the early Middle Ages various kinds of dances have started to form in Azerbaijan, which, thanks to the treasure of the Azerbaijani people, have survived to the present day. The following types of dances are distinguished: heroic, everyday, labor, ceremonial. By the nature and rhythm of the Azerbaijani folk dances are divided into a very smooth, smooth and lively. They have a characteristic pattern, due to their rhythmic construction. As a rule, the Azerbaijani dance is three-part: the first part is a circle, the dancer holds the body high and proud, the second – the lyric congealing on the spot (suzme) and the third – again the circling – confident, impetuous and solemn. The third part is characterized by rhythm, emotional outburst. Many dances, especially the old ones, are called the most beloved animals or plants: “gazelle” – gazelle, “lale” – field poppy, “benevshe” – violet, “Innabi “is fruit of a fruit tree, etc. Almost all Azerbaijani dances are solo.
The process of the emergence and formation of folk dance art on the territory of Azerbaijan was long and centuries-old. Such mass ritual dances, which were popular among the people even before the recent past, as “year-year”, “spit-spit”, “khidyr Ilyas”, etc. are also ancient. At court rulers on the territory of Azerbaijan there were dance ensembles, which were famous for high skill of dancers.
In the XIX century State Councilor Ivan Ivanovich Chopin described female dances in the following way:
Tatars 1 dance usually in pairs, having in their hands castanets, which produce strokes, then fast, then slow; sometimes the sounds stop at all and the dancing people remain as if they are still; suddenly, with the accelerated rattling of the castes, with the convulsive movement of the whole body and, as if in a frenzy, they rush forward; but one step, and they again turn into quiet nymphs, who with light and graceful movements express languor and passionate bliss. At that moment, their very souls seem to be exhausted and fly out with damp looks, full of fervent pleasure. This dance is called mirzai.
Another genus of dancing, called the huwank, is probably invented by personified laziness, because it is performed while sitting. At the start of the dance, two pairs, with their legs tucked under themselves, sit one against the other, at a fairly distant distance and, under the beat of the music, attach different positions to their camp, snapping fingers and in the hand; Together with this, all couples, without getting up, move forward and come together, so that their knees touch; here they give their body movements more passion and liveliness, and, showing the beauty of the camp dancing, then bending the head back, so that the loose hair touch the floor, then throwing it forward, hide their fiery glances under the thick veil of hair.
Development in Soviet times
After the establishment in the republic of Soviet power in 1920, the folk dance was enriched with new content that reflected the spiritual world, ideology, and labor activity of the new man. There were such dances as “dance of cotton growers”, “fruitful dance”, “dance of fishermen”, “space dance”, etc. Along with the desire to preserve such ancient women’s dances as ” Mirzai “, ” Uzundara “, new ones were created. So, for example, the music of the songs “Basti” G. Huseynli and “Surayya” S. Rustamov were danced by the girls. Youth dances (together boys and girls) also gained popularity.
The first professional dance group in Azerbaijan was created in 1938 on the basis of amateur performance. This ensemble performed with a diverse repertoire, consisting of ancient and modern folk dances. The activity of this ensemble was associated with the promotion of dance art both in the republic itself, in the USSR, and abroad. Among the leading performers, then, are the People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR Amina Dilbazi and Rosa Jalilova, Alibaba Abdullaeva, B. Mamedov; Honored Artist of the Republic Tutu Gamidov, Aliya Ramazanov and others.
In 1959, a girlish amateur dance ensemble “Chinar” (Azeri Çinar- Platan) was created in Azerbaijan under the leadership of Amina Dilbazi. Soon this collective became a professional folk ensemble.
Writing notes for dances
Inclusion of dances and publication of the Azerbaijan State Conservatory in the 1930s became possible after the creation of the Council for Scientific Research of Music. The Cabinet of Folk Music and Dance, begins to write a work plan for the dancers. Well-known singer, who knows the intricacies of folk music, Bulbul headed this research room. It should be noted his exceptional services for helping to collect folklore.
The first edition of the collection comes out to “dance tunes of Azerbaijan” by 1937, which was prepared by Said Rustamov. The collection includes 30 of the most popular dances. These dances and to this day do not lose their relevance. The collection, was reissued in 1950 by S. Rustamov.
In 1951 Tofik Kuliev, Zakir Bagirov and Mammad Saleh published a collection entitled “Azerbaijani Folk Dances”. This collection also included ancient dances. The editorial board of the collection and the writing to it of the preface was made by the composer S. Rustamov..
In 1954, Rauf Hajiyev, along with zurnachi Ali Kerimov wrote piano notes for such dances as “Sünbülü” and “Yarış”. These dances were created for plays and performances.
According to the thematic content, Azerbaijani folk dances are diverse and are divided into labor (“chobans” – “shepherds”), ceremonial (ritual, calendar, wedding), household (” mirzai “, ” turaji “), heroic – military (“jengi ” combat “), sports (” zorkhan “), round-game (” yall “, ” halai “) and others.
Among the most popular dances you can call: “trekeme” (nomad dance), “gytygylyda” (circus female), ” innaby “, which is performed at weddings, girlish parties by young women and girls, “gazelle”, “yalli”, etc..
Azerbaijani folk dance, as a rule, is three-part. The first part of the dance is swift and represents a course in a circle. The second is lyric, that is, the dancer is frozen in one place (“suzma”), the dancer’s body at this time is strictly and proudly pulled up. The third is again a move in a circle, it is swift and solemn, with a great emotional impulse. Dances are usually performed to the accompaniment of folk instruments: a trio of zurnachs (two zurns and one nagara), a trio of sazandari (tar, kamancha, def), etc. Female and male dances are sharply different from each other.
Dance music is represented by female dances – slowly lyrical (” Turadzhi “, ” Uzundara “, etc.) or joyfully animated (“Terecame”, etc.), masculine – solemnly majestic (” Mirzai ” – dance of wisdom, performed by the old people, and etc.), incendiary-vortex (“Gaitagy”, “Askerani”, etc.). Widespread are collective dances – yallas (festive round dance performed in the open air), jungi (martial male dance). The characteristic time signature of the dance melody (6/8) differs both in the variety and sharpness of the rhythmic figures (often the dotted rhythms, syncopation).
The development of women’s dance is primarily due to the costume. The smoothness of the legs was determined by the long skirt of the dancer, and all her attention was focused on the developed technique of hands and upper body (shoulders, head, facial expressions, etc.). For female dance the most characteristic is the 3-lobed size.
It is the technique of the feet that determines the male dance. Thus, the dancer easily stands on his fingers (as is done in the dance “Kazakhs”), quickly falls on his knee, etc. For male dance, in contrast to the female, a 2-lobed size is characteristic.
Examples of dances in Azerbaijan:
Abayi (Azerbaijani: Abayı) is an Azerbaijani dance with its origins from Shaki and Zaqatala region of Azerbaijan. The subject matter of the dance is middle age. In this area middle-aged people are called “Abayi” and this kind of dance is generally performed by middle-aged men or women. Creators of the melody of this dance are the Shaki composers. It’s a little exaggerating and funny and has a slow dancing tempo. This kind of dance used to be performed in group formerly, but later on changed to an individual dance.
Agir Karadagi (Azerbaijani: Ağır Qaradağı – meaning heavy Karadakhi) is Azerbaijani melody of a dance that is created in Karadakh. It is very popular in Shaki and Zaqatala in Azerbaijan and performed slowly.
Alcha Gulu (Azerbaijani: Alça gulu – meaning Plum Flower) is an Azerbaijani-Indian dance created between 1910 and 1920 in Shaki region by Ali Karimov who lived in Kalva village. It is performed by women and has a fast dancing tempo.
Anzali (Azerbaijani: Ənzəli) is the melody of a dance which is almost created in the years 1880-1890 in Baku. It is performed slowly and for this reason it is suitable for old people. “Anzali” dance is a traditional dance. It is performed at the first of the marriage. In origin the old people perform this dance. But the young people besides can perform it.
Asma Kasma (Azerbaijani: Asma Kəsmə – meaning Hanging Cutting) is one of the oldest Azerbaijani dances which is current in marriage. Its name comes from music by the name of “Asma-Kasma” and they use this music when they escort the bride to the bridegrooms home and women dance in the opposite of the bride. Its velocity is slow and a little exaggerative and full of jumps.
Asta Karabagi (Azerbaijani: Asta Qarabağı – meaning Slow Karabakhi) is an Azerbaijani dance with its origins from Karabakh. Its arrangement of movements is fixed and it has a slow dancing tempo.
Avari (Azerbaijani: Avarı – meaning of Avari) is appointed to the Avari people who live in Azerbaijan. “Avari” dance is very popular in Azerbaijan. It consists of three parts. At first it is slow, and little by little becomes faster, and at the end part it changes to the quick rhythm of the Lezginka music.
Ay bari bakh (Azerbaijani: Ay bəri bax – meaning look at me) is one of the oldest dances that is performed only by women.
Banovsha (Azerbaijani: Bənövşə – meaning Viola flower in Persian language) is performed with his feelings, showing how the violet grows from the ground, blooms and fades.
Birilyant (Azerbaijani: Birilyant – meaning Brilliant) is an Azerbaijani dance which has two different kinds. One of them is created in Baku in the years 1920-1922. Its music tempo is fast. This one is performed by men. The second one is only for women. Its music is performed elegant and melodious. Its velocity is slow.
Ceyrani or Ceyran bala (Azerbaijani: ceyran – meaning Gazelle, an Azeri given name for girls) is an old and delicate dance. This dance shows the gazelle’s gracefulness and elegance. It is performed by men and women.
Chichekler (meaning flowers in Azeri) is a very elegant dance. In origin this dance is performed by women in two different forms: slow and fast. It was created in 1910. The group of girls gathers together and collect flowers. They would like to show off and demonstrate to the public how pretty flowers look. Flowers are associated with how pretty the girls are in the colorful costumes. They form circles and triangles during the dance. Sophisticated hand movements and spins create very cheerful atmosphere. The music is up-bit and energetic.
Choban Regsi (from Persian: Choopan, lit. “Shepherd’s Dance”) is danced only by male performers. The costume is typical to the rural areas and particular to shepherds. The music is up-bit and energetic. This dance symbolizes a cheerful spirit of the shepherd who brings his herd to the valley.
Innabi (Azerbaijani: İnnabı – meaning name of a fruit) is a girl’s dance and performed by one or two girls. The dancers show a woman’s airs and graces as well as coquetry.
Gangi (Azerbaijani: Cəngi – meaning related to war (from Persian: Dgang جنگ, lit. “War”)) (martial music) calls all people to unity, friendship and invincibility.
Halay (Azerbaijani: Yalli) propagates unanimity, unity and collectiveness. It is a very old and very custom dance in Azerbaijan. At first times, it was performed in form of traditional celebration of fire, which was source of heat, light, and warm food. In this traditional celebration, dancers worship fire as a goddess. Yally starts with a slow speed and finishes in the fast mode with fast steps in form of running. There are many kinds of Yally in Azerbaijan. This dance is performed by a group of people and in ancient times whoever didn’t dance properly was fined by the chieftain who makes him sing a song or dance another dance.
Lezginka (Azerbaijani: Ləzgi) is a national dance of Lezghins popular among many people in the Caucasus Mountains. It derives its names from the Lezgin people; Azerbaijanis have their own versions.
Mirzayi (Azerbaijani: Mirzəyi) is traditionally played at wedding parties and performed by men and women with handkerchiefs in their hands.
Nalbeki (Azerbaijani: Nəlbəki – meaning saucer) is a dance performed only by women, during the dance saucers are used.
Ouch noumra, dourd noumra, besh noumra, alti noumra (Azerbaijani: 3 nümrə. 4 nümrə. 5 nümrə. 6 nümrə. – meaning No.3, No.4, No.5, No.6) are all dance melodies composed in the second half of the 1920s in Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan. These dances, especially No.5 and No.6, are still famous. Dance No.3 and No.5, which have slow tempos and doleful melodies, are performed by women. Dance No.4 and No.6 have a slightly faster tempo and are performed by both women and men.
Terekeme (Azerbaijani: Tərəkəmə) is a dance of a tribesmen. Those who are dancing extend their arms and go forward with their heads up. This dance is filled with the feelings of freedom and expansiveness. Both men and women perform it.
Vagzali (Azerbaijani: Vağzalı) is played when the bride is seen off from her family house to the house of the bridegroom and her departure is reflected in this dance.
Zorkhana (Persian: Zurkhaneh, lit. “house of strength”) is a men’s dance which brightly symbolizes courage, bravery and youthful enthusiasm.
Gaitagi-(Azerbaijani: Qaytağı) is a national dance of Azerbaijan. The performers are characterized by a fast rhythm, and expression of bravery, strength and temperament. It is very rapid and dynamic dance.
Heyvagulu (Azerbaijani: Heyvagülü) is choreographed under the Seygah mugham.
Uzundara (literally “a long gauge”) is a long dance performance. Uzundere is traditionally used to be performed when the bride and bridegroom are on the road.
Turajy -(Azerbaijani:Turacı) is stand out with lyric and subtle melody. Turajy dance is performed only by women.
Source from Wikipedia