Palu - Tamzara (dance)

05/07/22 (Last modified 05/07/22)

This section of our website aims to document and share performances of various traditional Armenian dances that have been preserved by Diasporan communities in the United States. To this end, Houshamadyan is partnering and collaborating with a group of Armenian dance experts who have produced appropriate dance notations for documentation. This group consists of Carolyn Rapkievian (of Bar Harbor, Maine), Susan and Gary Lind-Sinanian (of Watertown, Massachusetts), Tom Bozigian (of Los Angeles, California), and Robert Haroutunian (Sunyside, NY).

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The Tamzara is a dance in a distinctive 9/8 rhythm which was widespread across much of the Armenian Plateau. Villages and towns had their own local versions. Some experts hypothesize that the dance originated in the village of Tamzara in the northeast region of Sepasdia/Sivas. 

Armenians from the town of Palu immigrated to the United States, bringing their dances with them. Tom Bozigian learned the dance from Palutsi immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley in California in the 1940s and 1950s.

Source: Tom Bozigian

Music: The distinctive 9/8 rhythm is 1-2,1-2,1-2,1-2-3. The Palutsi Tamzara dance phrase is eight measures and matches the common rendition of the music. A vocal version of the Palutsi Tamzara sung by Maro Nalbandian.

One version of the lyrics is:

Le, le, le, le, tamzara,
Aghchig, dugha gu khagha.
Asor g’esen tamzara,
Aghchig, dugha gu khagha.

Tamzara bar baretsek,
Ousernit al sharjetsek.
Veri baghchin dantseru,
Hop-hop g’enen mancheru,

Our vor aghchig mu desnen,
Hon gu dzuren feseru.
Tamzarayin bareru,
Irar gou kan yareru.

Khelkus kelkhes arer a
Et aghgegan mazeru.
Tamzarayin varbedu,
Keghou, Palou, Kharpertu.

Style:​ Heavy, strong movements, particularly from the set’s “leader”.

Formation: Small groups of two or three dancers in a “back basket hold” (arm behind the waist of one’s partner, grasping their further hand with one’s own hand). This “couple version” of the Tamzara is also peculiar to the Kharpert and Arapgir regions. In most other Armenian regions, the Tamzara is a line dance, either in “Armenian hold” (Western Armenia) or “shoulder hold” (Eastern Armenia).

Tamzara from Palu - Demonstration and Tutorial

Measures

Counts

Movements

1

1-2

Step backward on right foot

 

3-4

Point left toe forward with left leg extended

 

5-6

Point left toe to the left diagonal with left leg extended

 

7-8

Touch the left heel in front (7), touch the left toe in front (8)

 

9

Pause

2

1-2

Step backward on left foot

 

3-4

Point right toe forward with right leg extended

 

5-6

Point right toe to the right diagonal with right leg extended

 

7-8

Touch right heel in front (7), touch right toe in front (8)

 

9

Pause

3

1-2

Step forward on right foot

 

3-4

Step on left foot behind the right foot sharply as right foot stays in place and the right heel rises off the floor

 

5-6

Step forward on right foot

 

7-8

Step on left foot behind the right foot sharply as right foot stays in place and the right heel rises off the floor

 

 

Pause

4

1-2

Step forward on the right foot

 

3-4

Hop on the right foot

 

5-6

Step forward slightly on the left foot

 

7-8

Stamp twice on the right foot

 

9

Pause

5-8

 

Repeat measure 4 sequence four more times as the couple turns 360° in a clockwise circle to end facing the original direction.

The Palutsti Tamzara always follows this pattern of dance movements: measures 1-8.

Other Tamzaras