The Taproot Dance – T-6

If you could learn only one dance for the Balkans and Anatolia area, this would be it.

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 – all the way to France. It has many names and variations but is almost always considered among the most ancient and widespread dances 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. The reason it’s blank is because it’s not a step – you don’t transfer your weight into another foot during that beat.

Usually the 2nd {step, ___,} is a mirror image of the first, so the dance becomes 3 steps Right (or forward), then {  } then one step Left (or back), then {   }. I call it the Taproot Dance.  Because of its’ 6-count pattern, I also call it a T-6, to distinguish it from similar Taproot patterns with a different number of counts.  Each area has its own name (or several names) for the Taproot T-6.

Adding or taking away one or more pairs steps leads to different lengths of basic steps, but the 6-count core remains the same. For additions or subtractions to the 6-count T-6, click The Taproot Family.

It’s Sta Tria in Greece

Kasap in Turkey   Keep watching, it speeds up!

Gaida in North Macedonia & Greek Macedonia

Pravo Horo in Bulgaria,

Par or Bar in Armenia

And the almost identical Halay by Armenian’s Anatolian neighbours the Kurds.  We’re at a wedding in Kurdistan (Iraq or Iran), 2019. Kurds call the dance Govend, and move to the left.  Best seen from 1:25 – 2:00. After 2:00 they switch to another dance.

Čoček in Macedonia

Hassaposerviko in Greece

A very fast version called Sârba from Romania

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

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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