US swing dancing spreads to Kurdish city of Diyarbakir
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Swing dancing is slowly but steadily becoming popular in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir (Amed) in Turkey.
While in general, Kurdish traditional hand-holding dances are the mainstay among Kurds during weddings and parties, dance tutors told Kurdistan 24 that the swing dancing is spreading among Kurds in Turkey.
Kurds remember the 1929 world economic crisis as a time of famine. In those years, Harlem, New York City, was a major center of American culture There, members of the black community were forced to deal with the Great Depression and severe institutionalized racism simultaneously. Life was challenging for them, and there was no end to their tragedy. Despite all their difficulties, they created the upbeat dance known as the swing.
The dance developed with the “swinging” style of jazz music that had taken hold of popular music, with the origins of each dance often predating the popular swing era. These included the famous dances known as the Lindy Hop, the Black Bottom, and the Charleston.
This type of dance is becoming a favorite in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in Turkey’s Kurdish majority southeast.
Dance instructor Hazni Demir says swing dancing is close to Kurdish culture, both philosophically and culturally.
“There is an interesting culture of dance here [in Diyarbakir]. It all comes from Kurdish dance (Govend),” Demir told Kurdistan 24.
“That is why the students are able to progress very fast. There was a Russian tutor here who learned Shemame (Kurdish) dance and mixed some figures of the Shemame dance with those of swing dance, and with that creation, came in second place in a competition.”
The distinction between swing and other sorts of dance is that swing is freer when it comes to movements, and it leads to positive feelings among the dancers, locals say.
Dilan Ogur is a student of swing dancing and she says she has picked it to put effort into learning because she feels close to the dance.
“It has been three months since I have started to study swing. I feel very free when I am performing swing. It is similar to our culture, so I like it. There is a good sense of friendship here as well; that is why I come here,” she told Kurdistan 24.
There are many Kurdish songs that you can dance to that incorporate the sad stories of the Kurdish struggle for existence behind them.
Similarly, swing dancing has emerged as a joyful dance in the midst of hunger, famine, racism, and death. The message behind swing, the new students say, is that there is always hope in life.
Editing by John J. Catherine