Circassian Dance, by Amjad Jaimoukha

Circassian Dance


Dancing has always had a special place in the life of the Circassians. In mythical times, the Narts held annual festivals and tournaments in which dances were held. No public or family festivity was complete without a round or more of dancing. It also kept the male dancers in tip-top shape thanks to the energetic tunes. It is nowadays the most popular kind of folk art.

Dance was initially a religious rite, a kind of spirited prayer. Later it turned into a form of festive celebration, keeping some of its ritual significance. It was only in recent times that dance turned into a pastime devoid of religious meaning. All dances are based on the rich material of Circassian folklore. Cossacks, Georgians and other Caucasians adopted many Circassian dance forms and some melodies.

In general, women’s movements were graceful and reserved, no wild movements being  required  or  displayed.  The  new  generation  of  female  ‘sedate’  dancers sometimes  seizes  the  opportunity  in  informal  sessions  to  show  off  vigorous moves, in parody of their male colleagues. In one modern comical choreography, gender-bending  females perform  acrobatic  feats,  strictly masculine  affairs, with flourish. In borrowed dance forms, say the ‘Dance of Daghestani Lasses,’  some dizzying footwork gets the audience gasping for breath, never mind the dancers.     

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