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Dance and I will know who you are

Dance and I will know who you are

If you want to look deeply into the identity of a nation, two nuances need to pay attention – its cuisine and dance. These two objects combine many things in themselves – history, national thinking, daily life, etc. and etc.

It is undeniable fact that the cinema is capable of making a certain event, place, including a certain part of the culture jog memory of people and cause to be loved forever. We don`t need to delve into the deep.

It would be a big mistake to say that TV series “Love in exile” did not play a pivotal role in making the city of Mardin, Turkey, popular and lovable in our country. The cult TV series of our childhood “Clone”, in addition to the promotion of Moroccan culture, played an exceptional role in the popularization of oriental dances in the world. Adding shawls` becoming a trend at that time to this list.

From this point of view, Azerbaijani dances are worthy of appreciation with their cheerfulness, rhythm, emotions that arouse in people, movements that reflect the gracefulness and elegance of women, and the hard work and bravery of men, as well as their colorful and beautiful costumes, and do not fall behind the dance examples of other nations. But have the national dances, which are a value for us, been engraved in the mind of the ordinary audience via our films?

It should not be forgotten that the dance is also performed at the wedding. When you think of a wedding, of course, the films “Dada Gorgud”, “If not one, then this one” (original name – “O olmasın, bu olsun), “The cloth peddler” (original name – Arşın mal alan”, “Kidnapping of the groom” (original name -Bəyin oğurlanması) are the first ones that come to mind.

 “If not that one, then this one” (original name: O olmasın, bu olsun) produced in 1956 and screened based on the operetta of the same name by Uzeyir Hajibeyov, was made as a result of sufficient professional team work. It occupies an exceptional place in the history of Azerbaijani cinema in terms of its comprehensive description of colorful traditions with artistic solutions. It is necessary to name many noteworthy examples of music and dance in the filь. First of all, let me emphasize that the creator of the dances performed in this film is Alibaba Abdullayev, a genius artist, People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan, choreographer, whose works in the films “Сrazy Kura”, “Meeting”, “For the Law”, “Nasimi” remained in our memory. Since my article is directly related to the field of dance, for this article, Honored artist, ballet master of the state dance ensemble Khanlar Bashirov and wind instrument player Bahadur Alibabayev shared their professional opinions about our national dances and national music played in the film with me.

When Mashadi Ibad arrives at Rustam Bey’s house, “Darchini” dance is performed. At that time, rich people, chieftain were used to dance “Darchini”. Although chieftains were fighter and armed, but also the most respectable and reputable people of the period.

In general, we would not be wrong if we claim that this film is a visual resource for creating interest in folklore art in Azerbaijan and exploring national music. İnterestingly enough “Vaghzaly” is considered one of the bridal music, it is the groom who enters the bathroom with the sound of that music on the contrary. Groomsmen sit at the top of the majlis while one is chieftain and another one modernist with his own dressing demonstrate the contrast of the period visually within the frame of several seconds scene. All in all it can be said that, every image has a full character and the persona in the background of dances and music and they were able to show every face of the society, black and white, bad and good of the time.

While researching about who performed “Vaghzali” traditionally, a very useful information by Rauf Bahmanli, PhD in art studies, the author of the book ” Ancient Azerbaijani Dances”, should be underlined. The author states that the real name of “Vaghzali” is “Slow of Karabakh” (original name – Qarabağın ağırı). There was a migration from the Garagoyunlu tribes to Karabakh in the 16th century. Over time, Garagoyunlu tribes` music living in Karabakh are being forgotten. Except for the only one – “Slow of Karabakh”. Later two versions of the dance are formed. According to art critic and ballet master Kamal Hasanov, this dance branches out into two parts over time. After the creation of “Vaghzali”, certain parts of the dance are changed and one part is played as “Vaghzali” and the other as “Slow of Karabakh”, both as bride dances. In fact, “Vazhzali” performed by clarinet players uses the intonations of and “Slow of Karabakh”. That is why the music played by zurna and naghara (National instruments) in the film has certain differences with the typical “Vaghzali” of our modern times. All these studies once again prove that Uzeyir Hajibeyov, as an author who is deeply familiar with the music and folklore art of his people, managed to write down every dance scene of the film as extensive as possible. Despite the passing of 67 years, the film still does not lose its relevance in terms of the harmony of folklore, music and dance thanks to the director Huseyn Seyidzadeh and the director of dance performances Alibaba Abdullayev`s  talent to bring this operetta to the audience in its full form.

After Mashadi Ibad is brought to the bath, the dance takes place in front of the groom and his guests around a pool with a chandelier hanging over it. It should be noted that this scene I am talking about was written by Uzeyir Hajibeyov in 1915 and included in the work later. In general, the bath occupied an important place in the life of the people of this region. Considering the scarcity of entertainment and leisure places for people in the past, dancing in the bath also sounds attractive. It is true that the dance may have taken place in the bath, but it would not be correct to limit this dance only to the bath. In the dance performed by six men, along with the elements of purity, their professions are also reflected with quite cheerful movements. In a dance performed by three rubber who has bathing suit and three 3 fully clothed male barbers divided into groups of two, the tandem of rubber and barber make a very interesting image. Each man demonstrates his profession in an obvious etude style with his movements in the dance, which combines agile movements. For instance, barbers clean their razors and start work, a rubber shows what his job is and massage elements, and so on. But one of the most special details is that each dancer/employee puts their hands to their ears and listens carefully “whom a customer calls”.

It is interesting that the finger-snapping movement, which is peculiar to “Gitgılıda” dance, is presented in a very catchy and pleasant performance from the hands of bath attendant. Contrary to the unwritten laws of our time that men do not have fun time, bath attendants and other men with mustaches dressed in a red fita (a fita is a red cloth that men tie around their waists in the bathroom) managed to fully create the image of a man who can have fun in a scene that fit into only 52 seconds of the film.

We move on to the dance of groom Mashadi Ibad with the quote – “The groom should dance at his wedding in order to prevent costliness!” The groom first approaches an acquaintance who smokes hookah and buys his wedding gift (According to Azerbaijani traditions if any good thing happens family friends should give a gifts it can be either money or gift). So what is groom`s gift? 5, 10 or even 100 Manat? (local currency) While dancing he also collects his gifts from his friends and loved ones with a happy expression on his face. Unfortunately, this custom, which preserved its place in our weddings until the beginning of the XXI century, has disappeared. So, putting gift as a money to the palm of the hand is a long-standing custom of our people.

By synthesizing this custom with dance, the author created a very well rounded Azerbaijani male image. In our modern times, it is believed that only a woman should play “Uzundara” dance in a solo performance. On the contrary, we see by Mashadi Ibad dance that even men can perform it with soft movements.

Time for women’s party. “Gitgilida” dance by Munavvar Kalantarli. The creator of the dance is accordion master Teyyub Damirov. Mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, neighbors are depicted in the dance, which reflects the domestic cases of the woman with humorous movements, with articulation of hips, clapping, and extensive use of subtle facial expressions. Another interesting point is the abundance of khonchas filled with candles, of course, without samani (because this item belongs to Novruz holiday) which create a Novruz and national holiday atmosphere at both groom’s and bride’s party. This shows that preparing a khoncha and lighting a candle in it is one of the ancient traditions of our people.

There are several minor nuances in the film that require special attention. We can also see our habit of giving your turn to someone else as a way of respect, the invitation to dance at the wedding. When Munavvar Kalantarli, who is already tired of dancing, invites Nargiz to the center. A veiled lady sitting behind her sprinkle a gold coin on the honorary of dancing ladies. As if the artistic solution of the famous phrase “my grandmother took out gold from her purse” is shown in this small scene. The author has worked the life and approach of the Azerbaijani lady in details that do not attract attention. Details like Nargiz Khanum’s protest and embarrassment when she was invited to a solo dance, women encouraging her by clapping saying “You, dear, dance”. After this motivation, Amina Dilbazi (Nargiz Khanum in the film) performs “Lala” dance in the next piece. Unfortunately, this dance is no longer performed at our weddings, but it is very rich snaps, and smooth movements, swan tenderness with claps. Almost every part of our daily life has a subtle form of expression in this dance. The way Nargiz Khanum looks at the bride and laughs at her, extending her hand to her look like a kiss. Then, with turning movements, she the mugham turns her face into the mugham singing part of the hall and floats left and right.

One thing is clearly visible in all four dances; the existence of the object in the center of the circle is in the essence of Azerbaijani identity itself. The bonfire is in the center, there is a circled people around it, and the samani (traditional Novruz item) is in the center with surrounded in a circled khoncha. Dancers are on the charhovuz (little man-made pond) on the centre, and cheerers stand in the form of circle around in each of this dance. The bridegroom is also in the center and the guests are clapping around, while the performers of the “Gitgilida” and “Lala” dances are circling in the center and the surrounding people are applauding. Based on this applause, I can say that the artistic solution of dances and folklore should be developed as a continuation not only in Soviet films, but also in modern films at all. I hope that dance will always be a part of our cinema, just they accept non-stop applause in the film.  Near future local films will be able to bring natural applauses of audience to the exquisite Azerbaijani dance performed in the modern films.

Afag Yusifli

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