Let’s Dance Armenian – Bar, Tamzara, Halay Step-By-Step

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In every Armenian community worldwide, the traditional Western Armenian music and dance remained an important cultural factor in their community.

In the United States, this popular tradition is a synthesis of two dissimilar Western Armenian styles: the urban oriental style and the rural folk style.

These styles were preserved and fostered in the U.S. for decades through the picnics of the “compatriotic unions,” such as Sepastatsi, Vanetzi and Kharpetzi.

In the late 1940s, the rise of the Vosbikian Band, followed by Artie Barsamian, the Gomidas, the Norikes, etc., heralded the American-Armenian “Big Band” era. A homogeneous style of American-Armenian music developed which incorporated elements of both urban and rural traditional music and contemporary American music; e.g., Jazz and Latin rhythms. Old songs were altered to fit this new brash sound, and new songs and a new American-Armenian dance form also developed. Some of the dance steps are traditional village dance steps that have been modified to fit the music; e.g., Bar, Halay, Tamzara, Pompuri, Sepastia Bar, and Laz bar. Other dance steps have been adopted and modified from other ethnic groups such as Greek and Arabic; e.g., Misirlou, Syrtos, Tsamiko, Dabke. Most of the dances have been created by Armenian teenagers and later adopted by adults; e.g., shuffle, Michigan Hop, California Hop. Armenian teenagers are the primary dance innovators and their dances are the most euphemeral. These dances can wax and wane with amazing rapidity similar to the dance fads of mainstream America.

Armenian Dance

Armenian Dance

Step-by-step guide for traditional village dances – Armenian Bar, Tamzara, Halay:


Armenian Bar – step by step (How to dance guide)

The Bar refers to any circle dance, and is the oldest and most popular of all Armenian dances. The Bar is the national dance in that it is the only dance common to all Armenians in Armenia and America.

The basic pattern of “3 and 1″ is related to many ancient dances of the Balkans and the Near East. Dance steps should be small and restrained, with a relaxed, erect carriage.

There is a slight vibration in the knees. The formation is an open circle with little fingers interlocked with hands held at shoulder level. The Leader at the right end often flourishes a handkerchief waving it smoothly. The leader may serpentine the line.

To start:
step on right foot (R),
then left foot (L) over R,
then step on R,
then point L toe in front of circle,
and then point R toe in front of circle.

The basic dance step is Right, Left, Right, Kick (raise Left foot slightly); Kick (raise Right foot slight).

Have a great time, practicing the dance….

Tamzara – step by step (How to dance guide)

The Tamzara is usually performed as a couple or trio. Now the Tamzara is also performed in groups. The formation consists of couples or trios (man between two women) scattered randomly across the dance floor, with the arms wrapped around the backs of one’s partners at waist level.

The leader can be male or female in the set of dancers.

To start:
with right foot (R) forward, pivot on heel to point to right diagonal.
Pivot R with heel remaining on floor to point R forward.
Moving forward, step forward R. Hop on R as left foot (L) lifts besides right calf.
Step forward on L. Stamp R besides L. Pause.
Moving backward, step back R, lift L, touch L toe forward, brush L heel forward. Pause.
Step back L, lift R, touch R toe forward, brush R heel forward. Pause.

Then continue with Side movement,
moving to the right, step R to right as torso and weight rock forward.
Then step L behind R as torso and weight rock backward . Pause.

Note: Use the Side step to travel around the dance floor. Continue Side steps until unit’s leader decides to change to forward step and begin pattern again. When the leader wishes, he may add a variant to the Forward step. Instead of moving forward, he may use the same step to pivot 360 degrees on an imaginary pivot point, so that the righthand person backs up as the lefthand person advances. A full turn usually requires two or three measures. The set then resumes a normal Forward pattern.

Have a great time, practicing the dance….

Halay – step by step (How to dance guide)

The Halay is a traditional men’s dance from the village of Soosoon, in the District of Kharpert. The style of the dance consists of an erect carriage, with a solid stance and flex of the knees. The line moves as a single unit.

As the tempo of the dance increases, the tension builds and the dancers embellish the basic step with crouches, pauses, and sways of the torso.

The Formation has the line of dancers very close with fingers interlocked and arms held at right angle by bending elbow.

To start:
step forward right foot (R),
step forward left foot (L),
step forward R,
lift L low to front,
step back on L,
step back on R,
step back on L,
lift R low in front,
step R to right, step/sway L behind R,
step R to right, step/sway L behind R (torso sways forward and back twice during sequence),
step forward slightly on R, flex knees twice/ bounce twice,
step slightly back on L, flex/bounce knees twice,
Repeat sequence.

Have a great time, practicing the dance….

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