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Kochari - Armenian folk dance.png
Young Armenians dancing kochari
DomainsFolk dance
RegionEurope and North America
Inscription history
Inscription2017 (12th session)
Yalli (Kochari, Tenzere), traditional group dances of Nakhchivan
DomainsFolk dance
RegionEurope and North America
Inscription history
Inscription2018 (13th session)

Kochari (Armenian: Քոչարի, Azerbaijani: Köçəri, Greek: Κότσαρι Kotsari, Kurdish: Koçerî‎; Turkish: Koçari), is an Armenian[1][2][3] and Azerbaijani[4] folk dance, danced today by Armenians, Assyrians,[5] Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Pontic Greeks[6] and Turks. It is a form of circle dance.

Each region in the Armenian Highlands had its own Kochari, with its unique way of both dancing and music.[7] One type of Yalli, Khigga, Dilan (Halay),[4] a dance common to Assyrians, and Kurds has different forms known as Kochari.[4]


  • In Armenian, Kochari literally means "knee-come". Գուճ (gudj or goudj) means "knee" and արի (ari) means "come".
  • In Azerbaijani, "köç" means "moving" used both as a verb and as a noun, with the latter used more in the context of nomads' travelling. "Köçəri" is also both an adjective and a noun, meaning a "nomad" and "nomadic" simultaneously.
  • In Pontic Greek, from the Greek "κότσι" (in Pontic Greek "κοτς") meaning "heel" (from Medieval Greek "κόττιον" meaning the same) and "αίρω" meaning "raise", all together "raising the heel", since the Greeks consider the heel to be the main part of the foot which the dancer uses.
  • In Kurdish, the word for nomads is Koçer, thus the name Koçerî makes it "Nomadian".[8]


John Blacking describes Kochari as follows:


A part of Armenian kochari

Armenians have been dancing Kochari for over a thousand years.[10] The dance is danced to a 2
rhythm. Dancers form a closed circle, putting their hands on each other's shoulders.

The dance is danced by both men and women and is intended to be intimidating. More modern forms of Kochari have added a "tremolo step," which involves shaking the whole body. It spread to the eastern part of Armenia after the Armenian Genocide.


It is one of the widely spread dances known as Yalli (Halay) in Azerbaijan, especially in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and surrounding areas. The “Kochari” dancing, consisting of slow and rapid parts, is of three variants. In the men or women lining up one after another or one woman after one man position, a yallihead (holder) holds a stick in his / her hand. This stick isn’t to punish the dancers but factually it has a dancing importance.[11]

Today this dancing is played in the ancient Nakhchivan land of which Sharur, Sadarak, Kangarli, Julfa and Shahbuz regions’ folklore collectives and it gives a stimule to the weddings.[11] Kochari along with tenzere has been included to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding of UNESCO in November 2018 as versions of Yalli dance.[12][13]

Kurdish Koçerî[edit]

Koçerî is a special form of the "Dilan", "Delîlo" or "Şêxanî" kurdish dance, and as the name says, it is very common and more frequently danced by the Kurdish nomads. Koçerî simply means "nomadian" in Kurdish, where "Koçer" means nomad, thus the term is used by Kurds for the dance that nomads dance. Among Kurdish nomads however, this is a specialty, not the only dance they know of.[citation needed]

Pontic Greek kotsari[edit]

The Pontic Greeks and Armenians have many vigorous warlike dances such as the Kochari.[14]

Unlike most Pontic dances, the Kotsari is in an even rhythm (2
), originally danced in a closed circle. The dance is very popular today; however, it is often danced differently from the original. There is a consistent, vicious double bounce, also referred to as tremoulo. It is danced hand to shoulder and travels to the right. There are few variations which may be added to the step. It's 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Vvedensky, Boris, ed. (1953). Great Soviet Encyclopedia (in Russian). 23 (Second ed.). Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia. p. 170. КОЧАРИ — армянский народный мужской танец.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c Gottlieb, Robert (26 July 1998). "Astaire to Zopy-Zopy". New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2013. I find it difficult to imagine someone without a predisposition to read about such matters as this folk dance (One type of yally has various forms known as kochari, uchayag, tello, and galadangalaya; another type is a dance mixed with games called gazy-gazy, zopy-zopy, and chopu-chopu) browsing profitably through Oxford's many hundreds of pages of such information.
  5. ^ BetBasoo, Peter Pnuel (30 April 2003). "Thirty Assyrian Folk Dances" (PDF). Assyrian International News Agency. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Kotsari". Pontian.info. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  7. ^ Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia Volume 4 (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. 1978. p. 476.
  8. ^ "Koçer" (in Swedish). Swedish Language Council. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  9. ^ Blacking, John (1979). The Performing Arts: Music and Dance. p. 71.
  10. ^ Kochari // Music encyclopedic dictionary / Yu.V. Keldysh, M.G. Aranovsky, L.Z. Korabelnikova — Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1990. — p. 275.
  11. ^ a b "The National Dancings". Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Intangible Heritage: Seven elements inscribed on the List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 2018-11-29. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  13. ^ "Yalli (Kochari, Tenzere), traditional group dances of Nakhchivan - intangible heritage - Culture Sector - UNESCO". ich.unesco.org. Archived from the original on 2018-11-29. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  14. ^ Greece - Page 67 by Paul Hellander, Kate Armstrong, Michael Clark, Des Hannigan, Victoria Kyriakopoulos, Miriam Raphael, Andrew Ston

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