Martial dances have an important place in the rich cultural heritage of Armenian people. They reflect the heroic spirit, strong will and unity of the Armenian nation. Martial dances were widespread especially in Sasun, the homeland of Armenian epic heroes.
There are currently more than 30 dances with preserved idea of war and confrontation. Martial dances were mainly performed before the battles to raise the morale spirit of the army. However, there were dances performed after war. They were sort of dramatized performances presenting some episodes of the battle.
Martial dances were also performed while celebrating a victory or during a funeral if the late was a soldier.
Yarkhushta (Յարխուշտա) is a martial dance and game that was widespread in Sasun. The name of the dance is interpreted in several ways one of which is “a comrade in arms”. Dancers divide into two “rival” groups and each participant dances with the person standing in front of him. The dance can also be interpreted as a symbolic battle of two groups.
“Yarkhushta” performed by “Karin” Armenian folk dance and song ensemble
This dance is performed to the sound of dhol (Armenian drum) and zurna (a wooden wind instrument). The dancers form a line. Sometimes they can form two lines standing in front of each other. The dance steps made forward by the line are interpreted as an attack on the enemy. After that the line goes back to its place. This dance symbolizes an attack and self-defense.
“Kertsi” performed by “Karin” Armenian folk dance and song ensemble
A training clip on “Kertsi” by the founder of “Karin” Armenian folk dance and song ensemble Gagik Ginosyan