The Taproot Dance


There is a simple dance that is a staple in every country from India and Azerbaijan through Anatolia to Greece, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and beyond. It has many names and variations but is almost always considered the most ancient and widespread dance in its region, and it has the same basic 6-count pattern everywhere:

{step, step, step,___, step,___,}

The {___} can be a pause, a kick, a lift, a stamp, etc.

Usually the 2nd {step, ___,} is a mirror image of the first, so the dance becomes 3 steps forward, one step back. I call it the Taproot Dance.

Each area has its own name (or several names) for the Taproot.

It’s Sta Tria in Greece


Gaida in Macedonia & Greek Macedonia


Pravo Horo in Bulgaria,


Par or Bar in Armenia


Čoček in Macedonia


Hassaposerviko in Greece


A very fast version called Sârba from Romania


Khigga in Assyrian/Chaldean communities (at the 3:08 mark)

Halay in Turkey,   Khorovod in Ukraine, Valle in Albania, Hora in Israel,  Yalli in Azerbaijan, etc.

It can be very satisfying repeating this simple pattern continuously – locals have been known to dance it for hours.

Laura Shannon has written a fascinating article detailing the links between these dances, and their connection to ancient pre-Christian symbols.   Here’s a few excerpts;

“This pattern of three steps forward, one step back can also be seen as a metaphor for the year’s seasonal cycle which requires us to rest in order to grow. There is a feeling of being held in all of these basic dances, as we travel, rock, rock; travel, rock, rock. We experience the sensation of moving ahead, yet savouring where we are. Just as with the year’s cycle, we need to go through this over and over again in order to remain aware of the truth contained in this rhythm, the rhythm of life.”

“My theory is that from prehistory right up until the present day, people have continued to believe in the sanctity of nature and her life-giving cycles, and to express their appreciation of the miracle of life through a continuity of folk art motifs.”

“As we enter into the mystery of the dance, we cannot know what will be revealed. But we do know that the very act of approaching the ancient dance forms with reverence – as pilgrims on a journey – will bring us closer to our ancestors in the human family, and therefore, ultimately, to ourselves.”

From Simple Dances:
Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Lead? By Laura Shannon ©2011

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