Halay (L*) – West Asia/Eastern Anatolia

*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation). For more information, click here and here.

Turkish dance regions
Halay Dist

Halay is a term that is used many ways by many different peoples.  In it’s most general sense, Halay is applied to almost any line dance from Anatolia and other parts of the Middle East.  According to Wikipedia “The Turkish word Halay is derived from Iranian Hālāy (هالای) meaning “to stand”, “jump” and “dance”. In Kurdish, it is known as Govend or Dîlan, in Syriac as Ḥeggāʾ(ܚܓܐ)[Khigga], in Azerbaijani as Yallı, in Armenian as šurǰpar (Շուրջպար), and in Greek as Chaláï (Χαλάϊ).”

Assyrians, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians, and Turks all claim Halay as their dance.  Whose dance is it?  Well, who got there first?   The word Halay comes from Iranian, and the Iranian language wasn’t formed until about 3,000 years ago, though people were living in Iran much earlier.  Assyrians claim to have been around for more than 6,000 years, Kurds at least 2,000, Armenians and Greeks at least 3,000. Turks have been in Anatolia about 1,000.  Who knows what Anatolians were dancing 3000 years ago?

There is no single choreography that defines Halay, but many of the examples below are variations on the Taproot Dance.  The T-6 can be seen in dances #1, 3, (the 1:47 mark), 4, 5, 7, (seen at 1:50), 8, 9, 10, & 11.  The abbreviated Taproot T-4 can be seen in #3 at 0:42, #5, #10 at 1:28, & #11 beginning.

  1. Here’s some Armenians dancing what’s labeled “Kessab Halay”, which I call Par, or Bar.  Kessab is just 1km south of the Turkish border in NW Syria.

2. Below is a Halay by some Kurds of Erzurum, in the Bar region

3. Here’s a Turkish performing group

4. And a Greek Halay from Horon, the Anatolian Black Sea coast

5. A specific choreography of Halay – Damat (Groom’s) Halay – from Trakya (European) Turkey

This one speeds up, though most don’t. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaxLyMCPlhw

6. Syrian Halay


7. Assyrian Halay – also known as Khigga

8. Halay from Kirikkale, just 80 km east of  Ankara

T-6 best seen at 3:20

9. Iraqi Assyrian Khigga

10.  Curkurova region. Starts with the Turkish T-6,  At 1:28 changes to Kurdish T-4 (Delilo)

11.   Kurdish:  T-4 Delilo followed by T-6 Halay

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