Azerbaijani dance: traditions, techniques, popular types of dances at wedding

By Asif Masimov Сен30,2023
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Cover Photo by Vuqar Ibadov

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Folk dances are part of the culture of any country. This art form allows tracing the history of the people, it reflects the temperament and character of people. For instance, in Azerbaijani dances, men always appear stern and strict, while women are calm and fragile.

Azerbaijani dances, like many others, were formed on the basis of ceremonial dances.

This is interesting

The national instruments that provide musical accompaniment are the sazandari, nagara and zurna.

Most of the Azerbaijani folk dances are named after representatives of flora or fauna. For example, innabi is a juicy fruit and jeirani is a gazelle.

The musical size is trioli, 3/4 or 6/8. It is interesting how the same musical size can be played in different ways. The waltz, for example, is also played and danced in trios.

The first professional group of dancers in Azerbaijan appeared in 1938. The group presented both ancient and modern dances.

Azerbaijani dancers at Eurovision 2012.jpgCC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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Azerbaijani dances: men and women

Men and women in Azerbaijan dance differently. For women, the emphasis is on the upper torso: the movements of the legs are slow and they seem even smoother because of the long skirt, while the work of the arms and upper body, facial expressions are the basis of the dance.

Men in Azerbaijan mainly dance with their feet — foot technique is extremely important. A dancer must be able to quickly fall on the knee, easily stand on his toes, jump high. At the same time, the upper part of the body during the dance remains practically immobile. To perform some elements, you need a good physical preparation.

Costumes are very important in Azerbaijani dance — they are not just a visual component that causes admiration, but also an element that allows you to convey the idea to the audience. For example, women’s floor-length skirts ensure smooth movements, and brightly coloured sleeves draw attention to the dancers’ arms, to the grace of their movements.

Classical Azerbaijani folk dance includes three parts. First, the actors appear and rush round in a whirlwind of dance, clearly beating out the rhythm. The second part is the disclosure of the lyrical number: the dancer is usually at this time is approximately in one place, proudly tightening his posture. The third and final part implies an emotional uplift — the music again becomes solemn and fast, the dancers move quickly.

Watch also music and dance performance at an Azerbaijani wedding

The most favourite dances in Azerbaijan

Uzundara («Long Gorge»). The name of the dance is dictated by one of the Azerbaijani traditions: in the past centuries the bride had to walk through a long gorge while performing this dance. Even today Uzundara can be seen at weddings in this region. The dance is unhurried, melodious and smooth. It is mainly danced by women, but it is allowed to be performed in pairs. The emphasis is on graceful hand movements. The dance ends with a modest bow.

Yalli. A merry round dance that is performed in the open air. Dancers hold each other’s shoulders or hands, quickly lower and raise their hands. All complemented by cheerful singing. This is a heroic, manly dance, which is characterised by notes of humorous pantomime. One of the dancers, the leader, sets the movement, and the whole group repeats it. The leader can «punish» any dancer for a mistake in the dance, for example, to make him lift a ram on his shoulder or bite the ribbon for the duration of the dance.

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Photo by President.az

Naz elama («Don’t be capricious»). A pair dance, very spectacular, combines refinement and impetuosity. The dance conveys the difficult relationship between a woman and a man — the name speaks for itself. Naz elama is often performed at many celebrations.

Terekeme. The history of the dance is connected with the rituals of nomads. Today Terekeme is danced by both men and women in Azerbaijan. The dancer raises his head, spreads his arms and moves swiftly forward, periodically making a rotation. Women demonstrate a smooth easy gait and graceful flapping of arms like birds.

Innabi. It is one of the most popular female Azerbaijani dances, but it is also possible to find a pair performance. The dance starts at the moment when the girl is supposedly trying to entice her friend to dance — the friend at first refuses, but then agrees to dance. The movements are calm and smooth.

Azerbaijani dances are spectacular, very beautiful, bright, mesmerising literally from the first seconds. They are a bright decoration of any holiday, celebration, festival.

An Azerbaijani Wedding

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By Asif Masimov

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