Yalli – a masterpiece of Azerbaijani folk dance, safeguarded by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage

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Baku, January 24, AZERTAC

Yalli – a masterpiece of Azerbaijani folk dance is not just an ordinary dance, it shows the characteristics of the Azerbaijani nation, symbolizing its bravery, unity and solidarity.

Yalli, a traditional group dance, is considered the pearl and the oldest type of Azerbaijani culture.

These dances are an expression of the past, present and national traditions of the Azerbaijani people. It takes a great effort to preserve this folkloric heritage called a symbol of antiquity, which is transmitted from generation to generation through the centuries to the present day.

One can hardly imagine a significant celebration in the country without these graceful movements, performed for hundreds of years at folk festivals and games, weddings and entertaining simulations of battles.

The history of dance art in Azerbaijan dates back to the Stone Age. A clear proof of this fact are petroglyphs resembling the Azerbaijani yalli round dance, which meet visitors at the entrance to the Gobustan State Historical and Art Reserve – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heritage site is full of images of people dancing among the many petroglyphs. Some of these images show people dancing while holding hands as if performing yalli. These millennial images once again confirm the fact that the yalli dance appeared on this land a very long time ago.

Experts have estimated that there are more than a thousand varieties of yalli in Azerbaijan, including “Kochari”, “Uchayag”, “Tello”, “Tenzere” and “Galadangalaya”. Remarkably, a hundred of these dances are cherished in Nakhichevan, an ancient land of Azerbaijan.

The common feature of all types is that it is performed as a joyous circular dance often accompanied by choral singing. The dancers hold hands or shoulders and perform synchronous rhythmic movements, raising and lowering their arms, while the pace and rhythm of the steps are determined by the main dancer.

Typically, yalli dances involve elements of games, pantomime (imitations of birds or other animals), physical exercises, and movement.

Joyful sounds of yalli can also be heard in Azerbaijani villages during holidays, especially in Novruz, which is one of the most important favorite holidays of Azerbaijanis solemnly celebrated both at home and abroad.

Yalli tunes – widely known and popular in the country, were also used by prominent Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibayli in the opera Korogly, legendary opera and music performer Muslim Magomayev in the opera “Nargiz”, as well as the famous composer and conductor Soltan Hajibayov in the ballet “Gulshan”.

One of the best showcases of Azerbaijani yalli dancing took place during the opening ceremony of the first European Games when President Ilham Aliyev declared the Games open following a spectacular celebration held in the capital Baku in June 2015.

As the fireworks grew in intensity, all of the performers gathered around the edge of the circular stage. They held hands and danced the Yalli, the national dance of Azerbaijan. During the Yalli, the names of all the Ceremony’s volunteer performers appeared on the LED strip that runs along a balcony of the stadium, scrolling along its entire length. Twenty thousand inflatable “pomegranate seeds” swept over the audience. They were a token of love and good luck and a symbol of Azerbaijan. This joyous Yalli dance ended the opening ceremony.

Traditional Yalli (Kochari, Tenzere) group dances of Nakhichevan were inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding during the 13th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held in Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius in 2018. The nomination documents were jointly submitted by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to UNESCO.

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AZERTAG.AZ :Yalli – a masterpiece of Azerbaijani folk dance, safeguarded by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage

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