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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hora: Dance everyone dance

Macedonian Oro    (Public Domain)
If you've always thought that the hora was an ancient Israelite ritual, perhaps it's time to think again.

Wikipedia reports that the Hora Agadati, "which may be the first Jewish adaptation of this dance," was first performed in 1924 (not BCE, but CE).  It is thought to have originated in Zichron Yaakov, one of the earliest Jewish pioneer settlements in then-Palestine.  This dance not only "played a foundational role in modern Israeli folk dancing," but also symbolized "the reconstruction of the country by the
socialistic-agricultural Zionist movement."

However, the hora as an overall dance form has been around long before that.  The very term is rooted in an ancient Greek cognate for "dance" (and/or perhaps "circle").  The term is also present in many Slavic languages such as Bulgarian (horo), Macedonian (oro), and Slovenian (kolo).

Many Eastern European folk dances are part of the hora tradition.  Many are circle dances that mark such varied occasions as weddings, religious holidays, birthdays, graduations, and even war.  In Montenegro, the dance is particularly complex.  There it often ends with a grand finale of "dancers standing on other dancers' shoulders…"   

Copyright October 1, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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