What is the Hora?

Mary Elizabeth

The hora is a type of circle dance, which is a traditional dance generally characterized by maintaining a circular formation and dancers moving individually, without partners. Circle dances are used by many peoples, including Native Americans, Greeks, various peoples of Africa, Eastern Europeans, and the Irish. The hora is a Jewish and Rumanian dance that has links to other dances from the Mediterranean region that may have originated in the Balkans and may be distinguished by different names and different traditional moves. The hora is related to the kolo, a Yugoslav dance, as well as the horo of Bulgaria.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Dancers performing the hora may move in a variety of ways. Although to some people the hora is inevitably a circle dance, in some cultures it may be performed as a line dance.

In some version, taking two steps forward and a step backward is the pattern, but others incorporate a grapevine step in which one foot crosses in front of the other, left in front of then behind right when moving counterclockwise and right in front of then behind left when moving clockwise. Steps may also include running; facing center and moving towards the center of the circle, diminishing the circumference and raising the hands; moving back from the center, increasing the circle’s circumference while lowering the hands, stamping, jumping, scissors kicks, step-hop, and other moves.

The hora is usually accompanied by music, but different melodies are used in different cultures. Jewish hora dancers often use the folk song "Hava Nagila," a song of rejoicing which may be played and/or sung. The hora is often used for celebrations and also frequently as a folk dance activity in physical education classes and at summer camps, as well as at participatory folk dance events. The hora is typically danced at weddings, was well.

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