On the border between Europe and the Middle East, facing three seas, connecting two continents with bosphorus, straddling important trade routes, Turkey has an ancient and complicated culture, reflected in the variety of its dances. However its dance traditions are dominated by the influence of the Ottoman Empire. The dominant dance forms are types of line dance. There are many different types of folk dances performed in various ways in Turkey, and these reflect the cultural structure of each region. The ‘Bar’ in Erzurum province, the ‘Halay’ in the East and Southeast, the ‘Hora’ in Thrace, the ‘Horon’ in the Black Sea, ‘Spoon dances’ in and around Konya, ‘Lezginka’ in Kars and Ardahan and ‘Zeybek’ in Western Anatolia are the best known examples of these.
Types of dances
This folk-dance, is a part of Turkish dance and is performed to a large extent in the Eastern, South- Eastern and Central Anatolia and it is one of the most striking dance. It has a rich figure structure of simplicity is the symbol of creation and originality of the folk. The rhythmic elements of halay dances are very rich and are mostly performed with drum-zurna combination as well as with kaval (shepherd’s pipe), sipsi (reed), cigirtma (fife) or baglama (an instrument with three double strings played with a plectrum) or performed when folk songs are sung.
Zeybeks are, in general, the widespread folk dances of the Western Anatolia. It is rendered by one person or two or by a group of people and its name changes for example as ‘seymen’ in the central parts of Anatolia. Zeybek dances are formed, in general, of 9/8 measures and have a variety of tempos such as very slow, slow, fast and very fast. Very slow zeybek dances have the measure of 9/2, slow ones 9/4 and some others 9/8. Very fast dances, for instance, teke (goat) dance seen in Burdur – Fethiye region can be regarded as dances of zeybek character, they have the traditional measure of 9/16 There is another folk dance named as BENGI in the zeybek region. It is performed more differently from the zeybek and has got a different musical feature and the most characteristic measure of bengi dance is 9/8. Particularly in slow zeybeks, the traditional instruments is drum- zurna combination. The use of 2 drums and 2 zurnas in combination is a tradition, function of one of the zurnas is accompaniment, in other words, it accompanies the melody with a second constant tune. Apart from drum-zurna, a three-double string instrument baglama, reed, marrow bow etc. are used for fast zeybek dances. In particular, the traditional instrument of the teke (goat) dance region is reed.
With their structure and formation, they are the dances performed by groups in the open. They are spread, in general, over the eastern part of Anatolia (Erzurum, Bayburt, Agri, Kars, Artvin and Erzincan provinces). The characteristic of their formation is that they are performed side-by-side, hand, shoulder and arm-in-arm. Woman and man bars are different from one another. The principal instruments of our bar dances are davul and zurna (shrill pipe). Later, clarinet has been added to the woman bars. The dominant measures in bars are 5/8 and 9/8. Occasionally measures of 6/8 and 12/8 are used. Aksak 9/8 measures which are also the most characteristic measures, in particular, of the Turkish folk music are applied with extremely different and interesting structures in this dance. They normally wear costumes as they dance. They always dance with pride and they turn their hands as they hop dance.