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As in whole world, we have to look at the existence of humanity history to find the source of the Turkish folk dances. From the first ages, people have used dances to protect themselves and express their wishes to supernatural forces.

We observe the following main elements in the formation of today’s folk dances in Turkey: Middle Asia, Islamism, Anatolia and Europe Culture.

There should be a certain reason for the folk dances to be performed. The dance is optional. The folk dances are performed at gatherings such as weddings, engagements, sending a person to army, climbing up and coming down from plateaus, religious and national bairams, at the end of the victory, seasonal bairams like spring feast or New Day’s Year, at the end of harvest time, ferfene, barana, and friend chatting. The Turkish folk dances are grouped in four according to their style of being performed. The first is in circle form, second in half moon form, third in straight row and the fourth is in two mutual straight row forms. There is one person directing the group at the head of these rows. There are different names given to this person in accordance with the dance performed in various regions. He is called “barbaşı” in provinces like Erzurum, Bayburt, Ağrı, Kars and Erzincan, “halaybaşı”, “gövenk başı” or “baş çeken” in provinces in regions from Ankara to East and Southeast Anatolian Regions, “horon başı” in Black Sea Region and “efe” in Aegean and Thrace Regions.

These persons who direct the group are very important. They must know the music and dance of the region very well. These persons make figures of Turkish folk dances are very rich. The heads of the group make inspired figures that carry their characteristics to show their skill and proficiency leaving the group. The other persons in the group continue the dance with one figure. In zeybek dances that are usually performed in Aegean region, named solo out of the group, the person dancing make the dances become rich by making inspired figures except for the main figures. The persons at the end of the row are named pöçük or last man.

The dances are usually performed at open places suitable for dancing as well as closed places. There are dances performed only by women, dances performed only by men as well as dances performed by women and men together.

The dances that are usually performed by groups start with slow rhythm dances. Because the elderly persons start the dance. The dances performed by the young persons are fast and active dances. The dances are performed with an instrument. Also they are performed without an instrument but a folk song.

The Turkish folk dances vary according to their subjects and style of being performed.

We can classify the folk dances according to their subjects as following: dances with subject of natural events (rain, mist, river), dances that take their name from name of places, dances expressed by numbers, dances with the subject of animals, social events, fight, war, sending a person to army, agriculture, profession and daily life of women.

It is possible to classify the dances in two main groups from the aspect of figures. Such as common figures (double left-double right, three legs, kneeling down, turning, hand clapping, heel hitting, cross walking etc.) seen in  all regions in the country and figures with regional characteristics (quick, armed and armless walks in Aegean region, making three, halay swinging, shoulder swinging, shivering in Eastern Black Sea and Eastern-Southeastern Anatolian region). When we look at folk dances in Turkey, we see that the usage of tools is very common. These are spoon, stick, sword-shield, knife, drum, kabak, riddle, handkerchief, candle, reaping hook, animal pelt, plate, tambourine, pot cover, blanket, bell, mirror, helke and etc.

Spoon, which is one of the mostly used tool, is generally used in the western part of the country both by women and men. It isn’t seen in the other regions because in those regions the dances are performed by holding hand in hand.

The dances with sword-shield are about fight and war. They are performed by men. As there had been some injuries and events resulting with fights during the dance, it has left its place to sticks (Elazığ-Şanlıurfa). The sword-shield dances that are supposed to be played with music in the past are played only in Bursa today without a musical instrument. 

The Turkish folk dances are being determined according to the provinces by individuals, institutions and foundations besides the researches made by HAGEM and they are being staged for activities such as competitions and festivals. However, factors such as organization and costumes arise while they are being staged and various implementations are being on this subject. The scenes here are examples for these implementations. HAGEM has made a study of documenting folk dances in 30 provinces with video since 1986 and this still continues as a project. The materials achieved after the work such as video bands, audio bands, slights and written documents are at the Folk Culture Archive and are presented to the researchers and scientists working on folk dances. Problems Faced During the Stage of Turkish Folk Dances Symposium was held in 1987, Problems Faced During the Teaching of Turkish Folk Dances Symposium was held in 1990 and Problems Faced During the Arrangement of Turkish Folk Dances Symposium was held in 1999 jointly with the universities with the aim of finding a solution to the problems faced in the field of folk dances.

Various books and articles are being issued related with the subject. The publications below can be given as an example.

1. Catalogue of Turkish Folk Dances (2 volumes)
2. Turkish Folk Melodies (2 volumes)
3. Declarations of the Problems Faced During the Stage of Turkish Folk Dances Symposium
4. Declarations of Problems Faced During the Teaching of Turkish Folk Dances Symposium
5. Turkish Brass and Woodwind Instruments
6. Turkish Percussion
7. International Turkish Folk Congress- Dance, Music, Entertainment Session Declarations (3 volumes)
8. Egin Melodies
9. Tümbelek Method

1st picture: Kırşehir
2nd picture: Gaziantep-Halay
3rd picture: Afyon
4th picture: Bursa-Sword Shield
5th picture: Konya
6th 7th 8th pictures: Kütahya
9th picture: Sivas
10th picture: Ordu