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The name (spelled differently in different countries) is cognate to the Greek χορός (choros): "dance" which is cognate with the ancient Greek art form of χορεία (choreia). The original meaning of the Greek word χορός may have been "circle". The course of the seasons was also symbolically described as the dance of the Greco-Roman Horae, and they were accordingly given the attributes of spring flowers, fragrance and graceful freshness.
Also, the words hora and oro are found in many Slavic languages and have the meaning of "round (dance)"; the verb oriti means "to speak, sound, sing" and previously meant "to celebrate".
The Greek χορός is cognate with Pontic khoron, Bulgarian хоро (horo), Romanian horă, kolo or оро (oro) in the languages of the former Yugoslavia, the Turkish form hora, valle in Albania, and in Hebrew הורה (horah). The Khorumi dance of Georgia also might be connected to the Horon dance in the neighbouring Turkish regions, as it rose out of the Adjara region, where Kartvelian Laz people co-existed for centuries with Greek Pontians.
Horos/Syrtos in Greece
Hora in Romania and Moldova
Hora (pl. hore) is a traditional Romanian folk dance where 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 dance is usually accompanied by musical instruments such as the cymbalom, accordion, violin, viola, double bass, saxophone, trumpet or the pan pipes.
The hora is popular during wedding celebrations and festivals, and is an essential part of the social entertainment in rural areas. One of the most famous hore is the Hora Unirii (Hora of the Union), which became a Romanian patriotic song as a result of being the hymn when Wallachia and Moldavia united to form the Principality of Romania in 1859. During the 2006/2007 New Year's Eve celebration, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union, people were dancing Hora Bucuriei (Hora of Joy) over the boulevards of Bucharest as a tribute to the EU anthem, Ode to Joy (Odă bucuriei). Some of the biggest hora circles can be found on early 20th century movies filmed by the Manakis brothers in Pindus, Greece and performed by local Aromanians.
Horo in Bulgaria
The traditional Bulgarian dance horo (Bulgarian: хоро) comes in many shapes. It is not necessary to be in a circle; a curving line of people is also acceptable. The steps used in a horo dance are extremely diverse. The horo may vary between three and seven or eight steps forward and one to five or six steps back, depending on the specific type.
There are more than five types of horo that are usually danced at every wedding. They differ by the rhythm of the music and the steps taken. There are no two horo dances with similar steps. There are probably over one hundred types of horo dances in the Bulgarian folklore.
In the past, the horo dance had a social role in Bulgarian society. It was mainly for fun, as a contest of skills, or for show, leading to the development of the variety of horo dances. There are hora for people with little skill that can be learned in five to ten minutes, but there are also very sophisticated dances that cannot be learned unless one is fluent in many of the simpler dances.
Oro in Macedonia
Macedonia uses the Cyrillic spelling of "oro" (Macedonian: оpo). The origins of Macedonian oro vary from its use in socializing and celebrating, to historical dancing before going into battle. Teshkoto, translated "The difficult one", is one of those, danced by men only, the music of which reflects the sorrow and mood of war. The oro is danced in a circle, with men and women holding one another by hand. They are used to celebrate occasions such as weddings, christenings, name-days, national and religious holidays, graduations, birthdays.
Oro in Montenegro
The Hora/Oro circle dance should not be confused with the Oro dance in Montenegro and Herzegovina, which is a paired mating dance. Its name comes from the Serbian орао, meaning "eagle".
Hora in Turkey
The Oro is also popular among the Romani people of Eastern Europe, and the dancing is practically the same as that of the neighbouring ethnicities. Romani oros, and Romani music in general, are very well appreciated among non-Romani people in the Balkans, as they also have a reputation as the skilful performers of other folk music there.
The Horah in Klezmer music
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|Music for Holidays|
The horah (הורה), which is somewhat different from that of some of the Eastern European countries, is widespread in the Jewish diaspora and played a foundational role in modern Israeli folk dancing. It became the symbol of the reconstruction of the country by the socialistic-agricultural Zionist movement. Although considered traditional, some claim it rose to popularity due to Hora Agadati, named after dancer and choreographer Baruch Agadati and performed for the first time in 1924.
To start the dance, everybody forms a circle, holding hands or interlocking arms behind their backs or on their shoulders and steps forward toward the right with the left foot, then follows with the right foot. The left foot is then brought back, followed by the right foot. This is done while holding hands and circling together in a fast and cheerful motion to the right. Large groups allow for the creation of several concentric circles.
The horah became popular in group dances throughout Israel, and at weddings and other celebrations by Jews in Israel, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The dance appeared in North America in the early 20th century, well before modern Israeli independence, brought directly from Eastern Europe by Jewish immigrants.
At bar and bat mitzvahs, it is customary to raise the honoree, and sometimes his or her family members, on a chair during the horah. This is also done at many Jewish weddings, following the Israeli tradition.
- Circle dance
- Khorovod, an Eastern European circle dance
- Kolo, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian circle dance
- Adana, a Macedonian oro
- Tresenica, a Macedonian oro performed by women
- Khigga, an Assyrian circle dance
- An Dro, a Breton circle dance
- Faroese dance
- Attan dance by Pashtun people in Afghanistan and Pakistan which is also being called lost diaspora of Israel.
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