Kharpert/Harput - 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.

​Most Tamzaras are danced in a line or open circle, but the Kharperttsi Tamzara is danced as a couple or trio. There are several versions of the Kharperttsi Tamzara, but this is one of the most popular versions and was commonly performed at picnics, dances, and family events in New England ((Northeastern region of the United States)) throughout the 20th century.

Source: Arevalois Deranian Kasparian, who directed the first Armenian Folk DanceEnsemble in the United States in the 1920s. She learned the dance from Kharperttsi immigrants in New England in the 1920s.

Music: The distinctive 9/8 rhythm is 1-2,1-2,1-2,1-2-3. This Kharperttsi Tamzara dance phrase is three measures, and it is likely that the tune of the accompanying Tamzara was in three measures.

Formation: Couples or trios (man between two women) scattered randomly across thedance area, with the arms wrapped around the back of one’s dance partner(s) at waist level.

Optional introduction: in place, with right foot slightly forward, tap the ball of the right foot slightly to the right with the heel on the ground (count 1-2), tap again (count 3-4) slightly to the left, tap again (count 5-6) slightly to the right, tap again (count 7-8) slightly to the left, pause (count 9). Repeat until the leader of the couple or trio decides to begin the dance.

Kharpert/Harput - Tamzara | Demonstration and Tutorial

Basic dance

Measures

Counts

Movements

1

1-2

Step backward on right foot

 

3-4

Lift left foot slightly in front

 

5-6

Touch the toe of the left foot

 

7-8

 Drop the heel of the left foot

 

9

Pause

2

1-2

Step backward on left foot

 

3-4

Lift right foot slightly in front

 

5-6

Touch the toe of the right foot

 

7-8

 Drop the heel of the right foot

 

9

Pause

3

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

Side Step Interlude - each individual leader decides how many times to repeat the basic dance and when to change to the “Side Step” and then to change back to the basic dance.  A typical community event featuring a Kharperttsi Tamzara would at first glance appear chaotic, however all of the dancers are following the same basic dance pattern at varying points within the overall sequence and can readily adjust to others dancing near them. One of the responsibilities of each group’s leader is to keep aware of the other nearby groups dancing and “steer” the group to avoid collisions.

Measure

Counts

Movements

1

1-2

Step to the right with the right foot

 

3-4

Crossing behind, step slightly to the right with the left foot

 

5-6

Step to the right with the right foot

 

7-8

Crossing behind, step slightly to the right with the left foot

 

9

Pause

This general dance pattern of the Kharperttsi Tamzara is similar to many other traditional Armenian line Tamzaras. A variation figure that sharply distinguishes the Kharperttsi Tamzara from other regions is a pivot sequence, only made possible by the traditional small groups of two or three dancers. When the leader decides, the group turns clockwise 360* in place on an imaginary pivot point using the Measure 3 sequence of the basic step.  It usually requires three to four sequences to complete a full 360* to end up facing the original direction. Then the duo/trio goes back to the basic dance pattern until the leader decides to do the “side step” or the pivot. The pivot is optional and is dependent on the mood of the leader.

Other Tamzaras

  • Alashged
  • Arapgir
  • Malatya
  • Palu
  • Yerzenga/Erzindjan