Caucasian dances

With Mariya Khan-Khoskaya

Orient | Dance

Azerbaijan dance has evolved from several centuries of history in the Caucasus region, where several ethnicities lived together.  Sitting on the Silk Road and serving as a crossroads between Turkey to the West, Iran to the South, Central Asia to the East and Russia to the North, Caucasus was characterized by an astonishing ethnic,linguistic and cultural diversity, which reflects a past that was often tumultuous.

The dances come from ancient popular rites which took place at public events.  During the Medieval period additional styles of dance were created in the court of the Eastern kings.

These dances belong to several distinct categories: work dances, ritual dances, military dances and women's traditional dances. They differ greatly in their masculine and feminine interpretations.  The usual rhythmic time for women is in 3/4, while that for men is in 2/4.  The national costume, a long skirt, forced women's leg movements to be clean.  Attention is drawn to the upper part of the body: the head, the movements of the arms and hands, as well as the dancer's facial expression.  Nevertheless, certain dances are extremely rapid and only used the latter.

In opposition to women's dance, masculine dances are based principally on rapid leg movement.  The dancer's movements are technically complex, defining the spirit and energy of the masculine Azeri dance.

The music that accompanies these traditional dances from the Caucasus is also an important element.  It is marked by a great variety of content that reflects the spirit of Caucasus.  Traditionally, Azeri dances are accompanied by national musical instruments, like the zurna (flute), the kamantcha and the tar (string instrument) or even the nagara (percussion).


There is an adage in the Caucasus region: "A person born in this region or one who is connected to it, in one manner or another, carries the charming spirit of Caucasian dance in his soul".  Mariya Khan-Khoyskaya was 11 years old when she began learning the traditional dances and discovered just how much the adage resonated with her.

Under the direction of Ramiz and Anna Mamedovi, Mariya took her first steps in Azerbaijan dance with a group of dancers, Goyertchin.  In 2002, she joined the State National Ensemble under the direction of Elchin Mayilov, where  she trained, performed and participated in tours.  In 2006, Mariya spent a year in the USA and used the opportunity to spread awareness of her country's traditional dances by organizing performances in her college's theatre.

She spent the next four years studying translation and interpretation in Volgograd, Russia.  Parelell to this, she continued to dance and actively participate in the cultural life of the of the town, which allowed her to meet members of the Russo-Azerbaijan congress, which she joined in 2008.  At the same time, she was part of the National Ensemble of Caucasian Dances (SAIRME), directed by an eminent Georgian choreographer, Gogsadze Soso Zaurievitch.  She learnt more about other dances from the Caucasus including Georgian, Daguestanian (Northern Caucasus) and Abkhazian. She returns regularly in her hometown of Gandja, to learn with Mr. Farmayil Pashayev, People's Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan

In June 2011, she finished her university studies and, a month later, settled in Geneva where she is getting married.  At the moment, her greatest wish is to help others discover the courtesy, strength and beauty of the spirit that permeates Caucasian dances.

ADEM MARAICHERS, 44, rue des Maraîchers - 1205 Geneva

Caucasian dances : Fridays - 19h15-21h45

Adults : 30 frs
Free trial lesson

Email :

Discover other classes