World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Westwind International Folk Ensemble

GENRE: Horon with innovation
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1978

As a transcontinental country with land located in Asia and Europe, Turkey has been at the crossroads of numerous economic, political and cultural shifts throughout its thousand-year history. Turkic peoples, those speaking the Turkic family of languages, comprise 150 million with different branches living in Turkey and throughout parts of Europe, Asia and Iran.

The legendary Black Sea, to the north of Turkey, is an inland sea that is also surrounded by Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia, and which connects to the Mediterranean Sea. Its name in Turkish, Kara Deniz, denotes the color of its deep algae-rich waters. This name also refers to an ancient way of assigning colors to the direction of the compass, with “black” denoting north, and “red” signifying south.

The Black Sea region has an abundant folk music and dance tradition that is only recently being revived. Many folk dances are danced in celebration of social events, holidays and weddings and serve to pass on customs from one generation to the next.

The most renowned dance style of the Black Sea region is the horon derived from the ancient koron-horon dance. There are over fifty variants of the horon, all which require exceptional speed, agility and skill. The name of the dance is derived from the word “horom” which refers to the lattice form of several corn stalks woven together. It is generally danced in a line or semi-circle by a chain of men or women who imitate the turbulent waters of the Black Sea through their rhythmic footwork and shoulder shimmies. Their unusual style of raised arms and characteristic tense quivering movements represent the struggling fish gathered by fishermen.

Originally founded in Los Angeles in 1959 as the Folk Chorus, the ensemble was reformed in San Francisco as Westwind International Folk Ensemble in 1966. The company is dedicated to the preservation of authentic folk dance and music traditions from around the world, with a unique emphasis on researching and accurately representing cultural context.


TITLE OF PIECE: Karedeniz-Black Sea
DANCERS: Norma Adjmi, Mitch Allen, Carol Braves, Avilee Goodwin, Cengiz Gulek, Lori Koch, Erika Nikolai, Karen Oakley, Tom Sha

The version of horon performed by Westwind is an innovative piece from the contemporary Turkish choreographer, Ahmet Luleci. Using modern music and dance arrangements, it draws on the traditional style, energy and attitude of the people of the region. The dance is accompanied by the kemence, a three-stringed bowed instrument made of horsehair whose sound is made by the tightening and releasing of the hair.

Back to top