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Folk Arts Foundation: Introducing the Turkish Cypriot Folk Dance (In Turkish)    
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Today’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms will be presented in Turkish, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Greetings, spirited viewers, and welcome to A Journey through Aesthetics Realms on Supreme Master Television. The beautiful island country of Cyprus is a shining jewel in the Eastern Mediterranean. Besides pleasant weather and a gorgeous landscape, it is rich in history and culture.

Today, we will have a glimpse of the time-honored traditional Turkish Cypriot folk dance through our interview with the HASDER Folk Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in the capital city of Nicosia. Let’s now meet some of the members of this vibrant group.

My name is Çise Zekai. Since 1993, I’ve been engaged in folk arts at HASDER. Besides folk dancing, I am busy with our various local music, dances and different activities for youth at our Foundation.

Hi, I’m Hasan Abohorlu. I’ve been working at HASDER for 28 years. I started in the children's group as a folklore dancer. Now I work as musician; at the same time I’m a member of the board at HASDER. My own profession is… I’m a civil engineer.

My name is Handan Nebih. I started as a dancer. I’ve been a member of the board. Maybe for 15 years I’ve been doing coaching.

My name is Eran Raman. I have a bachelor’s degree from the Ankara Conservatory. I play the flute. Here, I’m a member of the State Symphony Orchestra and an instructor at the Music Department of the East Mediterranean University.

Hi, I’m Pembe Gültekin. I’ve graduated from the Music Department of the East Mediterranean University. I received violin education there.

Ms. Handan kindly introduces to us how the dance company is organized.

HASDER has a children’s group. There is a group for tiny ones. We have a middle age group, high school group, and adult group. We have five groups.

Based in religious rituals, the improvisional Turkish Cypriot dances are an integral part of folk life and are performed at ceremonial occasions. To preserve and enrich this precious folklore, HASDER has conducted systematic research.

In 1981, with a group of friends, we felt a kind of void about folk dancing, about folklore. And together we started to do this. We started the dances. I was an active member of the board. We went to villages to collect the dances. We observed how our elders performed. Because we didn’t have any documentation of what kind of performances there were, what our ancestors, our elders performed. HASDER has researched these for a long time. We collected these and enhanced these dances.

In a Cypriot folk dance, men’s performance displays their strength and skill. The dancer makes crisp and loud finger snaps to match the beat of the music. Women’s dances, on the other hand, show their gentle styles.

This is the characteristic folk dance of Cyprus. The ones who perform more lively are men. Women are slower, they need to dance more slowly but while adjusting it to the stage, we make it a little more lively. Usually busy dances are for men; they give lively performances: steps, turnings, clapping, and so on.

These dances have been performed at various celebrations in our villages by Cypriots, for weddings, for engagement ceremonies, for henna nights.

Our dances are categorized as “karşılamalar,” “çiftetelli,” “kozan,” “zeybekler,” and dramatized dances .

Let’s take a look at a few classic Cypriot dances. Sickle Dance is a men’s dance performed at social events. It demonstrates the speed at which men harvests crops.

You saw the sickle in the performance. In the past, a sickle is used to cut wheat and barley. It’s a tool. We dramatize this to the stage. You see, children establish an environment by twisting the sickle with their own skills.

Kartizilamas is a suite of dances consisting of multiple episodes. Kartizilamas can be performed by either men or women pairs. It concludes with a circular dance called syrtos, where everyone is invited to join.

“Karşılamalar,” these are the dances performed by our elders. People perform as if they organize a show for themselves by coming face to face. They’re separated into two as “Men’s karşılamaları” and “Women’s karşılamaları.”

During wedding ceremonies, a unique dance is performed by the bride and the groom, involving the passing of a special object.

“Çiftetelliler” is a cheerful dance that is performed at weddings. The dance we call “kozan” is performed with a jug. It’s a welcoming and farewell music for brides at weddings. Sweets and money are put into the jug. It’s covered with a red cloth. And the jug finally is broken by the bride. The sweets and money inside are for the happiness of the newly married couple. Money symbolizes that they have wealth, that they earn money; sweets are for a soft life for them. The broken pieces of the jug mean a lot of children and a lot of happiness.

Originating from everyday life, the dancing costumes are practical and colorful.

We have various costumes. We call this costume “cepken.” It consist of four components. The trousers we call “don,” we wear a long shirt over it. On this we wear our “cepken,” our “üç etek,” our “kuşak,” our “yemeni,” our “beşi birlik.” And again we have earrings in the shape of “lira.”

There are other kinds of these clothes. This kind of ornate types have been worn more at weddings. There are smoother, more simple ones. Those have been used in daily life, too. The more simple ones are still worn by the elders who live in villages. “Yemeni” is used by our old grannies in villages again.

Next, we learn about the musical instruments which are used to accompany traditional Cypriot dances.

The music that we play, is native to Cyprus. It is traditional Cypriot music that Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots play for their dances. For traditional Cypriot music, there are instruments that Turks use. There is the lute. There is the goblet drum, which gives rhythm. The main instrument is the violin. Violin is the one which is used by both Greeks and Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots commonly and as a main solo instrument.

This instrument is called the lute. This instrument originally comes from the Arabians. Through the Ottoman Empire, it is believed to have come to Cyprus.

As a rhythm instrument, Turks use the goblet drum. All of these are traditional Cypriot instruments.

The special combination of instruments creates a unique style of vivacious music which inspires the energetic Cypriot folk dance.

We’ve written down the musical notes of all the songs we play. We render them according to our own ideas. And I think the most distinct difference in our group is that solos can be heard very clearly. We play our percussions all in one breath. There is not much rest, no gap.

Cypriot music is like that. Violin, goblet drum, accordion: these are lively instruments. Therefore, our people also like cheerful, lively music. They start to dance once they hear the sound of the goblet drum. We have lively music, we have lively people, although our weather is hot. Once they hear that kind of music, they are alive and well.

Playing Cypriot music, music of our own culture, give us a particular excitement. We definitely feel very happy because we play that music.

Throughout the years, the HASDER dance group has brought this cheerful spirit to many parts of the world. For their professional performances, they have garnered several awards.

We share these dances at various festivals, various competitions, various celebrations… with both Cypriot people and from abroad, various audiences and youth, we share with them.

Every year, we go to a European country, or Turkey, for festivals. For example, this year, we’ve been to Macedonia.

So, we have a chance to show our culture in Europe, in Turkey.

At the concerts that we give abroad, when we play our own music, both in a classical style and in a recital style and also in folkloric style, people are definitely impressed.

The biggest award we have received was a championship award in 1988 at an international festival in Antalya (Turkey). It was a very good festival and it was a very difficult festival but we came first. Again in France, in Dijon, we received third prize for HASDER.

Apart from the awards, the greatest pleasure of the dance tours for the members of HASDER dance group is sharing their culture.

The traditional culture of Cyprus is rich. It has a wide range. For dances, for music, it’s not monotone. It’s lively and native to Cyprus. Generally, it has the liveliness of the Mediterranean people inside. And Cyprus intends to introduce that culture to the whole world.

Sharing our culture with others makes me very happy.

When we make this music and when we share it with our friends here, we are really happy. We enjoy it a lot.

We meet new friends at each practice. Especially abroad, we share with new cultures. Consequently, we learn their cultures. We become friends with people from new cultures. We get the chance to communicate with them. At the same time, as we said, we get the chance to introduce our culture. And we are very happy because of that.

One special reason that HASDER has been well received is the prayer of peace that is central to the group.

I wish all the world would come to us to dance together. I wish there is peace all over the world; everyone would dance, sing a song. Dance and music offer the most beautiful time that people experience.

Our heartfelt appreciation, members of HASDER Folk Arts Foundation, for sharing with us the spirited folk dance of Cyprus. May your graceful dance and vibrant music carry the message of peace and brotherly love to all corners of our precious globe, with Heaven’s abundant blessings.

Delightful viewers, thank you for being with us today on Supreme Master Television’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Up next is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, after Noteworthy News. Wishing you everlasting inner tranquility and joy.
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