A Turkish Folk Dance Story in Arizona

About Us

Our folk dance group practices Turkish folk dance with traditional Turkish music and authentic costumes from Turkey. We began practicing on April 2009. In a period of six months, with a group of eight dancers, we prepared a show consisting of five different zeybeks, and performed this show for the first time at the Gala Dinner arranged by TAA-AZ for the 86th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey on October 29th, 2009. We practiced the figures of the Thrace region in 2010, Bitlis region in 2011, Teke region in 2012, and again Thrace region in 2013.

Major events we have performed at so far are 87th, 88th, 89th and 90th anniversaries of The Republic of Turkey; ASU International Night 2009, 2010 and 2011; ASU World Festival 2011; TAA-AZ Children's Day Festival 2010 and 2011; Intel Variety Show 2012 and 2013; Tucson Meet Yourself 2012; Phoenix Festival of The Arts 2012; and Chandler Multicultural Festival 2013.


The Arizona Turkish Folk Dancers have been practicing Turkish folk dance with traditional Turkish music since 2009. Anyone who is interested in folk dance is invited to join the group, which is comprised of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. The group so far performed the dances of the Bitlis, Trakya, Zeybek and Teke regions from Turkey.

Bitlis is located in the (south)eastern region of Turkey bordering Lake Van. Bitlis region dances are primarily of “Halay” and “Bar” type dances where the dancers are in a straight or curved line, holding tightly to each other. The dances generally represent rigor, unity, solidarity, bravery and love of humanity.

Trakya (Thrace) is the region of northwest Turkey on the European continent. Trakya dances are primarily “Hora” and “Karşılama” type dances. Horas, like Bar and Halay dances are danced in line with dancers holding onto each others' hands or arms and are typically highly energetic and rhythmic with intricate step combinations. Karşılama (literally: greeting) type dances are made up of pairs of dancers facing each other as they do their figures.

Zeybek dances come from the Aegean (western) region of Turkey. The unique characteristic of zeybek dance is that unlike Hora, Halay, or Bar, the dancers perform individually or unconnected to each other. Zeybek melodies can be divided according to their tempo: ağır (slow) and kıvrak (fast). The slow zeybek have rhythmic patterns of 9/2 or 9/4, which begin with an introduction called gezinleme in free style where the dancers wander freely before starting to dance in time with the rhythm. Fast zeybek have rhythmic patterns of 9/8 or 9/16. Zeybek dances typically portray chivalry, bravery, valour, and honor. You may also notice figures and movements simulating hawks, falcons, and eagles in some zeybek dances and movements simulating the harvesting and stomping of grapes to make wine in others.

Teke is the southwest corner region of Turkey on the Aegean and Mediterranean. The figures of Teke region were inspired by the hops and skips of the billygoat in the hills of the region – Teke literally means billygoat - which are so common in the southwest of Turkey. The people who live there reflect the billygoats's movements or behaviours in the nature of their dances.

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