The ATA Turkish Folk Dance Group has been temporarily suspended.
The ATA Turkish Folk Dance Group was founded in 1998 and has performing under the direction and leadership of Mr. Oguzhan Alay. Our aim is to promote Turkish culture through folk dances and music . Our members are of different professions such as students, professors, engineers, medical and business professionals. They take the time out of their busy schedules for the rehearsals and performances. Our repertoire includes a sampling of traditional Turkish folkdances from various regions of Turkey such as the Thrace, Adiyaman and Black Sea regions. The Folk Dance Group has performed at a variety of events such as festivals, school events, and weddings.
Turkish Folk Dancing
Folk dancing and music are very important to Turkish culture. And because of it diverse history, each region of Turkey is quite different from the other. This is in terms of seasons, weather, geographical makeup, and even the people and their customs and is especially apparent in the folk dances of each region of Turkey. Each region has its distinct colors, steps, and beats.
Adiyaman, Southeast Turkey
Primarily a rural and agricultural society, the dances of the Adiyaman region represent the events leading up to and surrounding the harvest. Throughout the dances, you can see the men trying to impress and one-up each other with shows of strength in celebration prior to the harvest. You can see the women spooling the thread until the mena also join in celebration in a dance called “halay”. The halay makes up the largest geographic dance area in Anatolian Turkey and also counts for 35% of Turkish Dances. In Halay, men and women dance together, with the leader occasionally breaking away to dance solo. Following this celebration comes the actual hard labor of the harvest. The women plant the seeds in the fields and the men follow to sow the harvest while the women pray for rain and for a successful season. The men are tired from the hard labor, and it’s the women to the rescue with pitchers of water for their men. Once the hard work is done, it’s time to celebrate again.
Thrace, Northwest Turkey
Thrace is the European segment of Turkey. Much of the population in the Thrace region actually has roots in the Balkans, which is a large influence in the music, the dances, and the costumes. Those familiar with folkloric dances from Bulgaria, Macedonia, and other Balkan states may recognize some of the steps and the folkloric rhythms. The Thrace dances are usually performed as pairs, though there are parts emphasized separately for men and for women. The overall theme is one of celebration, where one makes noise by stomping their feet. This is called the Hora, a dance very characteristic of the Thrace region which starts out with slower rhythms and finishes with a very quick tempo. In semi-circles, circles, or lines, the dancers perform figures depicting their feelings of happiness, sadness, and sometimes heroism. The names of most Hora’s are derived from those of heroes, bullies, tyrants, or humanitarians of Turkish myth and legend. Also, in contrast to the Hora is a dance called the Karsilama, which means to get together. In following with the theme of celebration, the ladies end the dances with the lively Karsilama.
Black Sea Region, North Turkey
The dances of the Black Sea are characterized by lots of vigorous movement – coming from their lively lifestyles and the influences in their lives as fishermen, such as the waves, the fish, and so on. The Black Sea is renowned for a special type of fish called the Hamsi, a very small fish similar to an anchovy. The quick and sharp movements of the feet represent the jumping and jerking of newly caught Hamsi fish just out of the water. The Black Sea region is actually quite large, so there are differences even amongst its own subregions. However, one common theme is the dance called the Horon, which comes from the word that refers to six or seven corn stalks tied together. From a distance, it looks like a line of people joining hands with their hands raised. The horon suggests the action of the fishermen and the movements of the fish and the sea of this ancient fishing district.
Silifke, South Turkey
The Silifke region is located in southern Anatolia, near the Mediterranean coast. The music and dances of the Silifke region usually tell the story of the migratory Turkmen people, of their journeys or the events of their day to day lives. The dances are performed featuring the lively clicking of wooden spoons, which represent the woodworking background of the people of Silifke. The dances also depict the orange groves that are prominent in this region.
Artvin, Northeast Turkey
Dance depicting soldiers in war – listening and looking out for the enemy... The dances representing the northeast region of Turkey, Artvin regional dances are performed to depict the story of the men departing for the military. The male dancers are dressed in their military uniforms. They depict soldiers at war, on the lookout for the enemy. One of the dances performed within the Artvin dances is called the Atabari, which was first performed in Artvin when Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern day Turkey, visited there after he led the liberation and founding of the Republic of Turkey. Other dances of this region are heavily influenced by Turkey’s neighbors to the northeast, such as Azerbaijan.
Zeybek, West Turkey
The Zeybek dances come from western Anatolia, near the Aegean Sea region. Opposite from the lively beats of other regions’ dances, the Zeybek dances follow a slower but stronger beat. The Zeybek is usually performed by men, who start the dance with a boastful, macho strut to the graceful beat of the music. The word Zeybek refers to a protector of people, and the Zeybek dancers depict the confidence of such figures.
The CaydaCira dance is easy to recognize for its distinction that it is performed with the dancers holding small plates with lit candles. Part of the CaydaCira dances also depict a groom being prepared for his impending wedding, as well as the henna night held for the bride before the wedding. There are two theories to the origin of the Cayda Cira dances. The first theory tells the story of a boy and a girl from tribes along the Elazig streams fall in love and communicate with each other by lighting candles. The boy would swim across the stream towards the candle lit by the girl. One night, they both light their candles as usual, however the strong currents drag the boy away. Desperate and heartbroken, the girl throws herself to the stream when she can’t find her love. Rumor has it that the Cayda Cira songs and music were written after this tragic event. The second theory also involves a boy, a girl, and a wedding. In the 18th century, the “aga” (leader) of one village along the streams in Elazig has bethrothed his daughter to the son of another aga. A big wedding is planned, and celebrations occur for 40 days and 40 nights. At the end of the wedding, during the henna night, the full moon is unexpectedly eclipsed and it becomes pitch black. Believing that this is bad luck for the newlywed couple, the mother of the groom stacks all available candles on plates, lights them, and starts dancing holding the lit candles, encouraging others to dance with her. The sight is so joyous that the musicians sitting on the other side of the stream also join in the celebrations and this is how the Cayda Cira music and dances are born.