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Georgian mountain dances

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 9
Henry Havelock Ellis the English psychologist once remarked that "Dancing is the loftiest, most moving, most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life: IT IS LIFE ITSELF!” Georgian folk dances, which have a history of many centuries, portray the life of the region in which they originated, and thus are diverse and unique.

The mountain dances, such as Khevsuruli, Kazbeguri, or Mtiuluri, are sharply different from some of the valley dances - e.g. Acharuli and Davluri. In the dances of the mountainous regions of Georgia the warrior spirit is expressed more, although there are also battle-connected dances in the valley regions. Kazbeguri takes us to the Northern Mountains of Georgia, which are distinguished by their diverse culture and traditions. The relatively cold and rough atmosphere of the mountains is expressed through the vigour and strictness of the dancers' movements. This dance is performed by men only and portrays the toughness and endurance of the mountain people.

However Khevsuruli is probably the best representative of the Georgian spirit. It unites love, courage, respect for women, toughness, competition, skill, beauty and colour in one amazing performance. The dance begins with a couple flirting. Unexpectedly another young man appears, also seeking the hand of the woman. A conflict breaks out and soon turns into a vigorous fight between the two men and their supporters. The quarrel is stopped temporarily by the woman’s veil. Traditionally when a woman puts her veil between two men all disagreements and fights cease. However as soon as the woman leaves the scene the fighting continues even more vigorously. The young men from both sides attack each other with swords and shields. At some points a man has to fight off three attackers. At the end a woman comes in and stops the fighting with her veil once again. However, the conclusion of the dance is "open", meaning that the audience does not know the outcome of the fight. As is characteristic of Georgian dances Khevsuruli is also very technical, and it requires intense practice and the utmost skill to perform the dance without hurting anyone.