Assyrian folk dances are sets of dances that are performed throughout the world by Assyrians, mostly on occasions such as weddings, community parties and other jubilant events.
Assyrian folk dances are mainly made up of circle dances that are performed in a line, which may be straight, curved, or both. Most of the dances allow unlimited number of participants, with the exception of the Sabre Dance, which require three at most. Assyrian dances would vary from weak to strong, depending on the mood and tempo of a song.
Assyrian folk dances belong to five metric groups: 2
4 (10 dances), 4
4 (6 dances), 6
8 (13 dances), 9
8 (1 dance), 10
8 (1 dance). The tempo would usually range from slow (70 beats per minute) to very fast (140 beats).
All Assyrians dances, with the exception of the Sabre Dance, are done in a connected circle. Most Assyrian circle dances are lateral, vining and open-ended, where more and more participants can join the dance. In an open floor space, the lines assume open circular shapes where they tend to curve and acquire spiral shapes as determined by floor space availability.
There are only five ways of moving the body; Step, leap, run, hop and jump. The legs are also used to stamp, stomp and kick. The arms are used predominantly and they'd usually move independently of the legs. Arm gestures include bouncing, swinging forward and back, moving side-to-side, lifting above the head and clapping.
In many dances, the torso, along with the shoulders and arms, bounce up and down rhythmically. Stomps and stamps are also executed in Assyrian folk dances. Knee bends, deep squats and leg extensions are a regular occurrence in Assyrian dance.
The connections include, hand-to-hand, hand to shoulder, and hand to hip, with hand-to-hand being the most popular. The hand-to-hand type has three connections; The "W", the "V" and the "T". The "W" arm hold is the most common where the arms are raised into the "W" position (or, at least, it appears to look like the letter W). The "T" dance is where hands are placed on other participants's shoulders. This is the least common dance of the three.
These Assyrian folk dances are rarely danced, but they're still practiced within some tribes and/or special events:
Audio excerpts of each Assyrian common dance style:
A modern Bagiyeh rhythm. Beat homogeneous to sheikhani, but is a bit slower and it may incorporate the rhythm of belati.
The fast-paced, lively Gubare beat. Tends to have an energetic and brisk tone, usually with synthesized traditional music arrangement.
The fast-paced Belaty rhythm, which has an Arab pop rhythm.
The Georgina beat, which has a slow, leisurely tempo and a maudlin tone.
Iraqi Chobi has a relatively slow-paced, but rhythmical beat. Iraqi music usually accompanies the dance.
The retro Sheikhany beat, from the early 1990s, which featured acoustic instruments.
Video excerpts of the common Assyrian dance styles: