Dances of Azerbaijan and Georgia

With Mariya Khan

Orient | Dance

Traditional Dances of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani dances are the result of several centuries of history in the Caucasus region, where several ethnic groups cohabited before forming the Republic of Azerbaijan. On the ancient Silk Roads, at the crossroads of its great neighbors Turkey to the west, Iran to the south, Central Asia to the east and Russia to the north, the Caucasus is characterized by an astonishing ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, which reflects an often tumultuous past.

The dances originate from ancient folk rites that took place during events such as hunting, wedding ceremonies, spring greetings, etc. Then, in medieval times, different types of dances were created at the court of the Eastern kings. These dances belong to several distinct categories:

  • work dances (Chobani - the dance of the shepherd, Terekeme - the dance of nomads),
  • ritual dances (Vagzali - women dance it during wedding ceremonies, Yalli - circle dance),
  • military dances (Djenge, Gaytagi, Igidler - only danced by men),
  • traditional women's dances (Uzundere, Nelbeki or saucer dance, Qabal reqsi, or dance with a musical instrument, Turadji or bird dance, Sari gelin), etc.

These dances differ greatly from each other, and according to the male or female interpretations. The usual rhythmic time for women is 3/4, while that of men is 2/4. Its development is conditioned by the national costume. A long skirt forces the sharpness of the leg movement, while the main attention is given to the upper part of the body: the head, the arm and hand movements, as well as the facial expression of the dancer. However, some dances are very fast and are exclusively performed by women.

In contrast to women's dances, men's dances are mainly based on very fast footwork. The dancer's movements are technically complex, defining the spirit and energy of Azeri male dances.

Traditionally, Azeri dances are accompanied by national musical instruments such as the zurna (flute), kamantcha and tar (stringed instruments), and nagara (percussion).


Traditional Dances of Georgia

Located in the Caucasus region, Georgia (from its endonym Saqartvelo) is proud of its rich and ancient history and culture, of which traditional dances are an integral part and part of the country's cultural heritage. Reflecting ancient traditions, religious rituals, customs, traditional music, historical events, geographical and linguistic diversity, as well as the nature of the Caucasus, Georgian dances are very complex as well as varied, and have a unique character in the world.

Each dance has its own history - wedding dances, war dances, mountain dances, romantic dances, festive dances, dances of aristocrats and merchants. Here are some examples:


  • Kartuli, a courtly and romantic dance, among the oldest Georgian dances, widespread in all regions of the country. Here the man dances dignified and majestic, like an eagle, his gaze fixed on the woman, graceful and delicate, gliding on the ground like a swan, always looking at the ground with arms outstretched, symbolizing the affection that she bears him.
  • Acharuli, a joyful and festive dance from Adjara. Men and women dance together in a more informal and provocative way; the fast movements of the men contrast with those of the women, more supple and undulating.
  • Mtiuluri, mountain dance, a typical representation of the warlike and bellicose spirit of the Caucasian mountain people; the male movements are hard and accentuated, showing the peripatetic nature of the fights; the female movements are fast, but still graceful and elegant. The famous technique of dancing on pointe is used, but with the toes curled up.
  • Kintoouri, city dance, the embodiment of the kinto character, merchant of the four seasons in ancient Tbilisi. The dance is light, even comical, where the movements of the dancers symbolize the extravagant and reckless character of these merchants.
  • Samaia, a gentle dance of women dedicated to Queen Tamara, reincarnating the 3 stages of her glory: the young princess, the wise mother and the powerful queen.

    Step by step, students will learn to use their whole body, in accordance with styles and techniques from the vast diversity of Georgian dances. One of the goals will be to learn different choreographies to dance on stage, but also to feel comfortable dancing to traditional Georgian music on occasions, or simply to have fun and allow the body to breathe by giving it a "new breath", a form of well-being for oneself.



Born into a multi-ethnic family, Mariya was 11 years old when she started learning traditional Azerbaijani dances in GOYARCHIN, a choreographic troupe in her hometown Gandja, under the direction of Ramiz and Anna Mamedovi. In 2002, she joined the State National Ensemble, GULSHEN, and for 4 years, she continued her training while participating in tours in other regions of the country.
In 2006, Mariya left for the United States for a year thanks to the FLEX exchange program. She seized this opportunity to showcase the dances of her country. Her academic career continued in Russia, where she completed her studies in translation and interpretation. At the same time, she continues to dance and actively participates in the cultural life of the city. Mariya develops the teaching of national dances of Azerbaijan to children. At the same time, she regularly participates in the performances of the National Caucasian Dance Ensemble SAIRME, directed by a prominent Georgian choreographer, Mr. Soso Gogsadze.
In 2011, she moved to Geneva and started teaching Azerbaijani dances at ADEM, while continuing to be an active member of the cultural life of Geneva and its surroundings. In order to continue her training, when she returns regularly to Azerbaijan, she learns from Mr. Farmayil Pashayev, Honored Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
On the other hand, she began her apprenticeship with Ms. Nino Turabelidze, an internationally renowned Georgian folk artist, former soloist of the legendary SUKHISHVILI, the world-famous National Ballet of Georgia, and founder of NABADI, the unique Georgian Folk Theatre in Tbilisi, whose dramaturgy is based on biblical stories, mythology, and Georgian and Caucasian folklore. This new project allows Mariya to launch a new course at ADEM - Georgian dance - in January 2022, under the direction of her teacher Mrs. Turabelidze, thus offering the participants of this new course a program never seen before in Geneva.

ADEM MARAICHERS, 44, rue des Maraîchers - 1205 Geneva

Dances of Azerbaijan: Friday 19h15 to 21h45

Dances of Georgia: Wednesday 20h to 22h

Adults : 30 frs
Free trial lesson

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For other locations, times and prices, please contact the teacher directly.

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