Circle dance is the most common name for a style of traditional dance done in a circle (open or closed) to musical accompaniment. Dancing in a circle is an ancient tradition common to many cultures for marking special occasions, strengthening community and encouraging togetherness. The dance is probably the oldest known dance formation. Circle dancing is still prominently found today, mainly in regions like the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, among others.
- 1 Background
- 2 Types
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Notes
- 6 External links
The dance was seen as an important part of bringing communities together for celebrations and rituals. Today, it may be still used in its more meditative form. Circle dancing can be energetic and lively, or gentle and reflective. Connection among the dancers is generally made by hand-to-hand, finger-to-finger (usually the little finger) or hands-on-shoulders. In many forms of circle dancing, the participants follow a leader around the dance floor while holding the hand of the dancers beside them.
Modern circle dance mixes traditional folk dances, mainly from European or Near Eastern sources, with recently choreographed ones to a variety of music both ancient and modern and they draw on a rich and diverse dance tradition. There is also a growing repertoire of new dances to classical music and contemporary songs.
Circle dancing is found in many cultures, including Arabic, Israeli (see Jewish dance and Israeli folk dancing), Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkish, Iranian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Maltese, Greek and Eastern European (i.e. Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian, to name a few). Despite its immense reputation in the Middle East and southeast Europe, circle dancing is also heavily prominent in Brittany, Catalonia and Ireland to the west of Europe, and also in South America (Peruvian), Tibet, and with Native Americans.
It is also used, in its more meditative form, in worship within various religious traditions, including, for example, the Church of England and other Anglican  Churches and the Islamic Haḍra dances.
The hora dance originates in the Balkans but also found in other countries (including Romania and Moldova). The dancers hold each other's hands and the circle spins, usually counterclockwise, as each participant follows a sequence of three steps forward and one step back. The Hora is popular during wedding celebrations and festivals, and is an essential part of the social entertainment in rural areas. In Bulgaria, it is not necessary to be in a circle; a curving line of people is also acceptable.
The kolo is a collective folk dance common in various South Slavic regions, such as Serbia, named after the circle formed by the dancers. It is performed amongst groups of people (usually several dozen, at the very least three) holding each other's having their hands around each other's waists (ideally in a circle, hence the name). There is almost no movement above the waist. The basic steps are easy to learn, but experienced dancers dance kolo with great virtuosity due to different ornamental elements they add, such as syncopated steps.
The Kalamatianos is a popular Greek folkdance throughout Greece and Cyprus, and is often performed at many social gatherings worldwide. As is the case with most Greek folk dances, it is danced in circle with a counterclockwise rotation, the dancers holding hands. The lead dancer usually holds the second dancer by a handkerchief, this allowing him or her to perform more elaborate steps and acrobatics. The steps of the Kalamatianós are the same as those of the Syrtos, but the latter is slower and more stately, its beat being an even 4/4.
Sardana is a type of circle dance typical of Catalonia. It would usually have an experienced dancer leading the circle. The dancers hold hands throughout the dance: arms down during the curts and raised to shoulder height during the llargs. The dance was originally from the Empordà region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia during the 20th century. There are two main types, the original sardana curta (short sardana) style and the more modern sardana llarga (long sardana), which is more popular. Other more unusual sardanes are the sardana de lluïment and the sardana revessa.
Syrtos and kalamatianos are Greek dances done with the dancers in a curving line holding hands, facing right. The dancer at the right end of the line is the leader. The leader also be a solo performer, improvising showy twisting skillful moves as the rest of the line does the basic step. While the leader does this, the next dancer in line stops dancing and holds him up with a twisted handkerchief linking their hands, so he can turn and not fall down, as in the Antikristos. In some parts of syrtos, pairs of dancers hold a handkerchief from its two sides.
The Tamzara is an Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani and Greek folk dance native to Anatolia. There are many versions of Tamzara, with slightly different music and steps, coming from the various regions and old villages in Anatolia. Firstly they step three steps ahead and strike their left feet on the ground and then they put their left feet ahead and for a while stand on it, then they make three little steps back and speed their actions a bit more in the second part with the actions of the first part. Like most Anatolian folk dances, Tamzara is done with a large group of people with interlocked pinkies.
An Dro, meaning "the turn", is a Breton circle dance. The dancers link their pinkies in a long line, swinging their arms, whilst moving to their left. The arm movements consist first of two circular motions going up and back followed by one in the opposite direction. Several lines may form, with the leader leading their line in some pattern. The leader (person at the left-hand end of the line) will lead the line into a spiral or double it back on itself to form patterns on the dance floor, and allow the dancers to see each other.
Sacred Circle Dance
The Sacred Circle Dance was known from the importance it had for the Findhorn Foundation community in Scotland. It was Bernhard Wosien who first brought the traditional circle dances that he had gathered from across Eastern Europe to the Community in Scotland.
He so inspired people there that teachers such as Colin Harrison and David Roberts took the dances (sometimes calling their dance 'sacred circle dance') to other parts of the UK where they started regular groups particularly in the south east of England and Somerset, then across Europe, the US and elsewhere, until now the network extends also to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America and India.
In this dance, a small centrepiece of flowers or other natural or venerated objects is often placed at the centre of the circle to help focus the dancers and maintain the circular shape. Dancers bring many different belief systems to the circle including conventional religions, New age and Neopagan beliefs and no religious affiliations at all. Much debate goes on within the sacred circle dance network about what is meant by 'sacred' in the dance.
Middle East and Asia
Dabke is popular in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Turkey. The most famous type of the dance is the Al-Shamaliyya (الشمالية). It consists of a lawweeh (لويح) at the head of a group of men holding hands and formed in a semicircle. The lawweeh is expected to be particularly skilled in accuracy, ability to improvise, and quickness (generally light on his feet).
The dancers develop a synchronized movement and step, and when the singers finish their song the lawweeh breaks from the semicircle to dance on his own. The lawweeh is the most popular and familiar form of dabke danced for happy family celebrations, such as weddings, circumcisions, the return of travelers, and also for national days, in which dabke becomes a demonstration of national personality.
The kochari is an Armenian and Azerbaijani folk dance, danced today by Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Pontic Greeks and Turks. Armenians have been dancing Kochari for over a thousand years. Dancers form a closed circle, putting their hands on each other's shoulders. More modern forms of Kochari have added a "tremolo step," which involves shaking the whole body.
In Azerbaijan, the dance consists of slow and rapid parts, and is of three variants. There is a consistent, vicious double bounce, also referred to as tremoulo. Pontic Greeks dance hand-to-shoulder and travel to the right. There are few variations which may be added to the step. It is a dance that tries to scare the viewers. At the start, it is danced by both men and women. Then, men go in front and do their figures.
The khigga is the one of main styles of Assyrian folk dance in which multiple dancers hold each other's hands and form a line or a circle. It is thought to have been danced for thousands of years. It is usually performed at weddings and joyous occasions.
Khigga is the first beat that is played in welcoming the bride and groom to the reception hall. There are multiple foot patterns that dancers perform. The head of the khigga line usually dances with an handkerchief with beads and bells added to the sides so it jingles when shaken. A decorated cane is also used at many Assyrian weddings.
The Kurdish dance is a form of a circle dance, with a single or a couple of figure dancers often added to the geometrical centre of the dancing circle. In every dance one dancer falls or comes to the head of the circle who is called Serchopí, holding a colorful or symbolic object in his/her right hand. It is a tradition that no one take his/her place until he/she leads the dancers group at least one circle. Its noteworthy that these folkloric dances are mixed-gender which distinguishes the Kurds from other neighbouring Muslim populations.
Thabal Chongba is a popular Manipuri folk dance associated with the festival of Yaoshang in India. In earlier times, this dance was performed in the moonlight accompanied by folk songs. The boys and girls in a circle clutch each other's hands with rhythms of music slow and fast, high and low, up and down. If the number is great they may form two or three rows so that everybody and anybody can participate in the dance. They wear no make-up or special costumes.
- Karikázó and Körtánc, Hungarian circle dances
- Mayim Mayim, a popular Israeli circle dance
- Romvong, a popular Cambodian circle dance
- Ballu tundu, a traditional Sardinian circle dance
- Khorovod, a Slavic circle dance
- Cachua, a Peruvian circle dance
- Dances of Universal Peace are meditative, spiritual practices danced in a circle
- Group dance
- Barmaley Fountain
- International folk dance
- Circle Dancing - Celebrating the Sacred in Dance by June Watts, Green Magic Publishing (2006) ISBN 0-9547230-8-2
- Grapevine, the quarterly journal of the sacred/circle dance network, Circle Dance Friends Company Ltd. ISSN 1752-4660
- The Dancing Circle, volumes 1-4, compiled by Judy King, Sarsen Press, Winchester, England
- Dancing on Water, by Marion Violets Gibson, printed in Wales (2006) ISBN 0-905285-79-4
- The Sevenfold Circle: self awareness in dance by Lynn Frances and Richard Bryant-Jefferies, Findhorn Press (1998) ISBN 1-899171-37-1
- The Dancers Journey, by Bernhard Wosien, translated from the German by Katharina Kroeber
- The Dancers Journey - Bernhard Wosien "Self-Realisation Through Movement" - Ed. Seamas O Daimhin
- Sacred Dance: Encounter with the Gods by Maria-Gabriele Wosien
- The Bible in Israeli Folk Dances by Matti Goldschmidt, Ed. Choros
- Sacred Woman Sacred Dance: Awakening stirituality through movement and ritual, by Iris J Stewart, Inner Traditions, USA ISBN 0-89281-605-8
- Drumbeat, the South African circle dancing journal
- Encyclopaedia of Indian Tribes by Shyam Singh Shashi, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.(1997) ISBN 81-7041-836-4
- Social Change in Manipur by B. K. Ahluwalia, Shashi Ahluwalia, Cultural Pub. House (1984)
- International Folk Dance at a Glance. Second Edition. Cecile Gilbert. Burgess Publishing Company. 1974. SBN 8087-0727-2
- "We ended with a circle dance." "A short session of circle dance was one of the activities on offer..."
- "...we were able to testify our love to the lord using circle dance and hymn singing."
- Costumes. (2009). In ASKA Kolo Ansambl. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from ASKA Kolo Ansambl http://www.ndidenko.net/askakolo/folklore/costumes.htm
- kolo. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/321451/kolo
- George H. Lykesas [Γιώργος Χ. Λυκέσας]. Οι Ελληνικοί Χοροί [Greek Dances]. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2nd Edition, 1993.
- "Origin of the sardana" (in Spanish). Lavanguardia.es. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- σύρω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- συρτός Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- See many issues of Grapevine over its 25 years history, available via the legal deposit libraries since Winter 2006 or via www.circledancenetwork.org.uk
- Elia, Anthony J. (2013). "Kochari (Old Armenian Folk Tune) for Solo Piano". Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Vvedensky, Boris, ed. (1953). Great Soviet Encyclopedia (in Russian) 23 (Second ed.). Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia. p. 170. "КОЧАРИ — армянский народный мужской танец."
- Yuzefovich, Victor (1985). Aram Khachaturyan. New York: Sphinx Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780823686582. "..and in the sixth scene one of the dances of the gladiators is very reminiscent of Kochari, the Armenian folk dance."
- BetBasoo, Peter Pnuel (30 April 2003). "Thirty Assyrian Folk Dances". Assyrian International News Agency. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- "Kotsari". Pontian.info. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Кочари // Музыкальный энциклопедический словарь / Ю.В. Келдыш, М.Г. Арановский, Л.З.Корабельникова. — Советская энциклопедия, 1990. — С. 275.
- "The National Dancings". Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Greece - Page 67 by Paul Hellander, Kate Armstrong, Michael Clark, Des Hannigan, Victoria Kyriakopoulos, Miriam Raphael, Andrew Ston
- Kurds, Kurdistan, Part 4. Dances and music, The Encyclopedia of Islam, Edited by C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B. Lewis & CH. Pellat, Vol. V, KHE-MAHI, Leiden, E.J. BRILL Publishers, 1986, 1263 pp. (see p. 477).
- # Encyclopaedia of Indian Tribes by Shyam Singh Shashi, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.(1997) ISBN 81-7041-836-4