All references cited may be found on the Resource Page
View Alphabetic Dance Index and the Hora Page
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Dance descriptions courtesy of Erik Bendix.
|These dance descriptions
are in pdf format
A Yingele, A Meydele
see also Russian & English translation of Vengerke from old Russian dance manual
|More on A Yingele, A
From Tzipora Ginzberg:
"Here is the link that I found to the music of Mikhl Gelbart. It seems that he may be the arranger, and that the actual composer/author is Mordkhe Gebirtig. This page also has the information that it is an adaptation of “Gants Kley Koydesh Geyen Tantsn”. Scroll down to the song entry, which also has three entries for recordings."
Two versions of the first line are listed as well:
אַ ייִנגעלע, אַ מײדעלע, אַ מײדעלע, אַ ייִנגעלע, לאָמיר בײדע גײן טאַנצן.
אַ ייִמגעלע, אַ מײדעלע, אַ מײדעלע, אַ ייִנגעלע, לאָמיר אַלע גײן טאַנצן,
Here is a pdf of the musical notation and alternate lyrics from Binyomin Ginzberg
Thanks to Jill Gellerman for her input in this discussion. Jill reports that the lyrics supplied by Erik Bendix fit the choreography best at at lomir beyde (let's both go dancing).
A choreographic variation to the dance notated here, can be found in the liner notes of Lori Cahan Simon's Cd Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl Gelbart, along with the original lyrics. The CD is available at CDBaby.com .
Scroll Down For More Dance
Additional detailed info on many of
dances can be found in my
online dance syllabus
(large pdf file, slow download).
Boyker [from the Hebrew word “Boker” which means morning, since this dance was commonly danced at daybreak at the end of a wedding celebration]
Boyker is a
dance known to Michael Alpert and also notated in an unpublished
manuscript from Stanislav, which was brought to our attention by Jeff
Wollock. Michael associates the dance with the Carpathian region,
particularly in areas in Marmarosh and Bukovina. He learned 2 versions
of this dance from the late Itsik Shvarts. The music for this dance is
provided by singing:
I thank Michael Alpert for providing information about this dance.
See photo of broiges tants
See video of broigest tants by the Wholesale Klezmer Band
The concept of this dance holds a lot of
lessons for life today. It was customary at a shtetl wedding for two individuals, usually the
to dance a pantomime of fighting and then making up, a life lesson for the newly
married couple. There are a number of choreographed versions of this dance in
existence (see published resources Vizonsky--male/female couple version,
Broiges Dance Recollection #1
as recalled by Diane Krome, Age 70, Chapel Hill NC
as performed by her grandparents.
Posted by Helen Winkler
March 22, 2009
Diane Krome's grandparents,Chana and Harry Lubin enjoying themselves at a family celebration.
Description of the
as recalled by Milton Blackstone
as performed by his mother and her dance partner
Posted by Helen Winkler
Sept. 13, 2002
Milton's mother routinely danced the Broiges dance at celebrations with a family friend named Wolfe:
"It started out by the male courting the female and that developed into a disagreement followed by the male seeking forgiveness while she was very indignant. I seem to remember a reverse switch somewhere during the dance when the female persued the offended male, after which they got together and then the freylekh celebration came in as they danced off.
.....at all our relative's celebrations .... at some point, everyone clamored for Gussie and Wolfe to do the broiges tance.....
My mom died in 1966 at the age of
76. She came from Musnik, Lithuania in 1912 (via Riga) on the S.S.
Pennsylvania and was a typical Jewish girl from a large family. Her
maiden name was Lenzner. I'm most positive that she learned this
tance in Europe, although I remember that she performed if most
frequently at simchas held for my father's family, mostly during the
late 30's - early 40's. After Wolfe passed away, some time around
the mid-forties, my cousin Mildred took his place and did it with my
mother. I am currently 78 and I can still see them traipsing
around the floor while everyone clapped in unison......
The steps of the Bulgar will be familiar
to anyone who has experience with Balkan dance,
as the steps appear under different names in different Balkan countries; e.g. sarba step in Romania.
The basic step is also the same footwork pattern as the Israeli Hora.
According to Feldman's article, the bulgar
became the predominant Jewish
dance in the American Jewish community. He attributes this to the
perception that the bulgar was a secular dance that the European Jews
picked up from the surrounding community in Moldavia (bulgareasca in Moldavia);
it did not have a strong association with orthodox Jewish weddings. This
made it more appealing to the American Jewish community. However,
even the bulgar did not survive in subsequent generations due to the overall
decline of klezmer music and dance in the US.
In the book "Klezmer Music A Marriage
of Heaven and Earth", the bulgar music is said to be
named after the Bulgarian inhabitants of Bessarabia; however, the connection of the music
itself to the Bulgarians is apparently not clear (personal communication, Joshua Horowitz).
Instructions (As described by Jacob Bloom, as taught by Michael Alpert1994, KlezKamp, & Mame Loshn session )
Formation: Shoulder hold, circle formation
Music: A bulgar of your choice--listen to a few as the tempo varies a great deal.
(A) Right foot steps to right
Left foot crosses in front (or behind)
(B) Right foot steps to right, left foot swings across
(C) Left foot steps to left, right foot swings across
Variations (The designated leader whether in a circle or line if the circle happens to break, determines which variation everyone does. The steps are not called; everyone just watches and imitates the leader)
1. Vary size of steps
2. A & B same as variation 1
(C) Jump onto both feet with feet spread apart, hop onto left foot with right
foot swinging across
3. A & B are the same as variation 1
(C) for C substitue: step Left, stamp Right beside left
4. A & B are the same as variation 1
(C) Step Left, Right, Left (3 small quick steps in place)
5. A & B are the same as item 1
(C) leap onto L, RL (leap followed by two small quick steps in place)
6. A is unchanged (B) leap onto R, LR (in place) (C) leap onto L, R L (in place)
7. A & B unchanged (C) step on both feet with feet spread apart,
step on both feet with legs crossed
8. (A) same as item 1 (B) step on both feet with feet spread apart,
step on both feet with legs crossed, (C) step on both feet with
feet spread apart, step on both feet with legs crossed
9. First step in A is a stamp with the Right foot (towards the outside of the
circle), followed by the rest of any of the other variations.
Note: for variations 5 & 6 the leap-step-step sequences are done more or less in place like a pas-de-basque
from Steve Weintraub at Winnipeg Klezmer Dance Workshop November 2001.
by Helen Winkler with assistance from Steve Weintraub.
Steve learned this dance within his own family of Hungarian Jews. This dance was also done by non-religious Romanian Jews (personal communication Bob Cohen Di Naye Kapelye). Mixed dancing was not allowed in observant Chasidic communities.
Couples facing—man’s hands on woman’s upper back. Woman’s
hands on man’s shoulders.
is an improvised dance in the sense that although there are typical
figures done to it, each couple does whichever figures they chose at any
given time throughout the dance.
Any Jewish style Czardas 4/4 or 2/4 time (my personal favourite, Track 4
of Di Naye Kapeleye’s cd Mazeldiker Yid)
step is starting with man’s right foot, (woman uses opposite
R foot to R, bring L foot to the right and step on L
R foot to R, and close the left to it, no weight on L
repeat this sequence beginning with the L foot this time
is a slight dip/lean on the 4th count into the direction of the step, R
when moving R, L when moving L. The weight bearing leg does a
small kneebend on the 4th count.
sideward with R to R, Step left across R
this as many times as desired. Then reverse the footwork.
easy to change directions if you finish with 3 stamps
buzz step may be substituted.
they each take a small jump backwards so as to face each other again.
they jump forward to the left and back to place.
as desired, usually an even number of times, usually 4 or 8, to fill a
phrase of music.
starts on R foot, woman on L foot
three quick little runs in place (counts:1& 2), and hold for the
free leg is extended to the side slightly. The knees stay close on the
2nd beat, but the lifted heel is extended outward, sort of like a
Charlston step- the knee of the gesture leg must bend slightly to
accomplish this. The accent is very much on 2. In terms of the
"quick runs" the first 2 are done lightly toward the ball of
the foot, and the last count -2- on a firm, flat foot.
Freylekhs (also called Karahod, Redl)
This is the major group dance of the
Eastern European Jews. It's the one you see in all the old movies.
You will also see people doing a version of it at most weddings and bar mitzvahs.
The concept is simple.
Either a line or circle (or both formations interchanging) formation,
everyone steps in their own way to the music.
This doesn't mean that it's a free for all. There are characteristic movements
like a shuffling sort of walk, a two-step, alternately stepping and stamping.
The circle/line can move to the right or to the left, snaking
around the room. People can go into the middle of the circle to show off their moves.
The thread the needle figure (below) can also be a part of this dance.
I see people doing a grapevine step to
this dance at most parties that I attend.
However, I haven't seen that step included in any of the dance descriptions I've read.
The grapevine step occurs more commonly in Israeli folk dance. Somehow,
I think the wires got crossed and the step migrated from one dance style to the other.
There are choreographed versions of the freylekhs in existence
(Vizonsky, Berk--liner notes from Tikva record T-117) which try to capture the
overall style of the dance but are not spontaneous the way the dance was originally done.
In order for the spontaneous freylekhs to be fun, you really need a large group of people interacting.
For historic descriptions see Yale Strom's reference (on reference page) as well as Miriam Shomer Zunser's description of
freylekhs as danced in 1866 (her book is on the reference page). She mentions Heidim Deidim as
a men's figure of turning with a partner while singing "Heidim Deidim."
As an aside, here are some photos of the freylekhs from Life Magazine, 1952 .
You can view the entire issue on Google Books
The community at large probably gets
confused about a hora vs. a freylekhs.
The hora can mean many things. The Israeli hora is a fast paced dance done with
a shoulder hold with several characteristic steps, not really much like the freylekhs (Berk),
with the basic step being the same as the Romanian sarba step. A similar dance is
taught as the Chasidic Hora on the "Dancing into Marriage" video.
There is also a slow hora which is done to very slow 3/8 music, with its own
distinctive footwork, again very different from the Israeli hora or the freylekhs
(personal communication Jacob Bloom). In Romanian dancing, the hora seems to be
a generic word for dance but quite often refers to a sort of saw-toothed pattern
that moves in and out of the line of the circle. Then, if you travel through the
Balkans you will find many horas, horos and oros which are really non-specific words for dance.
How to thread the needle
|(as demonstrated in the
video "Dancing into Marriage" and in photos below)
Leader is leading the line to the left, is
on the left end of the line.
Leader #1 turns to their own right, does
not pass under the arch formed between
Leader then leads the line under the arch
formed between person #2 & #3. #2 does
This process continues until everyone is
wound up. While the winding is going on,
The wound up line then snakes around the dance floor.
To unwind, the leader does their own small
circle to the left, thus unwinding themselves.
An alternate method of threading/unthreading the needle, which begins with the leader passing under the arch formed between the last two people in the line, and pulling the whole line through can be seen in this video at the 37 second point in the timeline. As in the previous description, the leader works his/her way along the line pulling the line through subsequent arches, and winds her/himself into place at the end. The last person who would pass under the arch each time, doesn't actually pass under and instead wraps their previously arched arm around their neck (easier to see in the video than to explain!) The unwinding process involves raising the arch again and pulling the tail of the line through over and over until unwound (see the video where I try to get this to happen but the music ends too soon).
HanukkahRunde from Steve Weintraub (pdf format)
Arranged to fit Happy Joyous Hanukkah, by the Klezmatics
According to Rivkind, this was a Hasidic circle dance involving multiple circles.
Kaprosh, Kaperush, Каперуш
This dance is mentioned in 2 yizkor books and there is a known version within non-Jewish Ukrainian culture. It is a men's follow the leader type dance. In the Ukrainian version of the dance, the leader has a strap which he uses to strike whichever dancers fail to properly follow his movements. We are unsure of exactly how the Jewish dance was done, though it also seems to be a follow the leader dance, with the person who fails to follow having to pay the band. For more on this dance including sound clips of the Ukrainian version please visit the Kaperush page. If you are aware of a Jewish variant of this song or dance, please contact me. Any information is welcome.
Kozak (also kazatske, kazatchka, Cossatchok)
The Kozak, based upon the dance of the Cossacks, is frequently mentioned
in articles and recent discussion on the Jewish music list suggests that
it remains a popular dance in many communities. This is in contrast to
Vizonsky's comment "Essentially it is the display of the warrior and was,
therefore alien to the psychology of the Jew to whom it was wholly
unacceptable." Zeitlin indicates that the Cossack dance referred to the
more vigorous version which included "Somersaults, handstands and flips."
Cossatchok was the less vigorous version. This dance is mentioned in
2 of the dance stories on my web site, one dating back to the 1800s.
The question is, in view of the history between the Cossacks and
the Jews in Eastern Europe, why was/is this dance so popular among Jews?
I have only found instructions for this
dance in Vizonsky's book although I saw it in the
movie Yidl with the Fidl. The dance was usually done after the wedding ceremony by an
individual woman dancing towards the married couple. The woman holds a large challah
and dances to symbolize good luck and prosperity. Vizonsky offers a specific choreography
for the dance but states it would have been very much an improvised dance in the shtetl.
In the movie there are two women dancing with the challahs.
Their movements are much less elaborate than the choreographed dance.
According to the book “From a Ruined
Garden,” the special wedding challah was decorated
with multicoloured poppy seeds.. In the particular shtetl described, the women with challahs
escorted the bride and mother-in-laws down the aisle. Relatives with challahs also escorted
the wedding party from the wedding canopy.
Rivkind describes this as a dance done by women, individually with
the bride after the veiling of the bride (bedekns) ceremony. The badkhn
would call up each woman for her turn.
Based on Nathan Vizonsky's Choreography
Background: The mitzvah dance fulfilled the Torah commandment to dance before the bride. Due to the requirement that males and females not touch, either a handkerchief, a belt, or the train of the bride's dress was used to replace holding hands. The master of ceremonies (badkhn) traditionally called up male wedding guests to dance with the bride, one at a time. The dance was also called the kosher dance indicating the bride had undergone ritual purification prior to the wedding, and also sometimes called the Shabbes Dance.
See also abstract of Judith Brin Ingber's article under references.
The Kosher Dance or Mitzvah Dance
is also described in a memoir by Pauline Wengeroff:
Teaching Tip: I always tell people not to worry too much if they don't get the footwork quite right. After all this was originally an improvised dance. The only concern is that people change partners at the same time to avoid colliding. To ensure everyone's safety I shout "change" each time partners change until the group seems comfortable with the dance.
Formation: partners facing in a circle, man facing out (back to centre of circle), woman facing the man. Each partner holds a diagonal corner of of the handkerchief fairly high, about head level, in their right hand. Men and women do the same footwork.
Music: a 4/4 or 2/4 piece of klezmer music
freylekhs or bulgar will work.
Beregovski notes that the preferred music
for the Kosher Tanz in some regions
Notation below is for 2/4 music, one beat per step.
Step to right with right foot (1), place left foot behind the right foot without
This is an old Russian ballroom dance meant to emulate Spanish dance styles. It was part of the klezmer repertoire. To see a doable version of this dance, check out my online dance syllabus . To enjoy historic versions of this dance, please see Dick Crum's translations from old French and Russian dance manuals. View historic illustrations from old Russian dance manual.
There are several different versions of
this dance. The one most people know is
by Lillian Shapero and can be found in Lapson's book. A well researched version of the dance
is described in SOFDH's 1994 Problem Solver. Vizonsky states that this is a dance used to
welcome the bride into the fold of married women. Miriam Shomer Zunser makes reference to this dance in her memoir (see resource page).
Patch tanz is a couples dance that can be done as a mixer or just a simple couple's dance. It is a great dance for children and families.
Everyone seems to enjoy the clapping and stamping that goes on.
According to Rivkind, this dance was created by Rabbi Zusya of
Hanipoli, accompanied only by stamping and clapping, no music,"to teach Jews to
worship God quietly without noise music or words." It was known as the shtiler dance.
The old Yiddish movie "The Dybbuk" has a
version of the dance which is described as "Tapping Dance" in the subtitles.
Steve Weintraub has reconstructed this dance and music is available at CD Baby, on Hopkele by Kapelye.
To see a short clip of this dance, visit Leon Balaban's video site. (Please note the final partner exchange
wasn't done consistent with Steve's choreography--it's the folk process in action: I flubbed up and
in the process created a new variation :) ).
Sher (or Sherele - Scissors Dance)
Also known as Volzeni Dance (Rivkind) and Hakhnaah, Hebrew for respect and
fear "because dancers bowed their heads. It was a gesture of respect."
According to Vizonsky, the sher is a
Jewish adaptation of the quadrille dances being done
in the English and French courts of the 18th century. Dvora Lapson states that the
dance was originally a tailor's guild dance with the figures meant to represent a pair
of shears and threading the needle. In the movie "Dancing into Marriage" it is stated
that the dance might also refer to the cutting of the bride's hair with the shears on the
evening before the wedding as was customary.
Beregovski states that the sher originally was a woman's
dance since men and women did not usually dance together(see further discussion below).
In some areas, the non-Jewish community actually picked up the sher from
the Jewish population. According to Beregovski,the Moldavian gentile version
of the dance was called a Srayer. Further discussion on the origin of the
sher can be found in the liner notes of Budowitz's cd Mother Tongue.
Whatever its origin, the sher
was a popular dance similar to a square dance.
Many versions of the sher can be found in books
(Lapson, Vizonsky, Kraus) and there is an online version on Jacob Bloom's web page.
There are many versions of the sher
depending on the community from which the dance arose.
The overall concept is that of partners visiting others and then returning to their own partner.
The original dance probably went on for a long time with choruses being repeated and people
visiting one at a time, as well as time for shining. You may want to do the dance in the
traditional way or you may use the version below which has fewer repetitions.
Music: According to Joshua Horowitz of the
band Budowitz (thanks
Joshua), 2 versions of the
sher became standard due to their being recorded on 78's: the Philadelphia Sher and
the Russian Sher; however, other music was also used, as long as the tempo, style and
length of the piece fit the dance. I have found different shers on different cd's.
Once again listen to a few and pick the one that suits your needs.
See also Yiddish Song of the Week Blog: http://yiddishsong.wordpress.com/,
“Shpilt zhe mir dem nayem sher” Performed by Isaac (Tsunye) Rymer.
(Arrangement by Teme Kernerman of
Toronto. Based on the original version of the sher.
Additional information from the video Dancing Into Marriage.)
Formation: Square, 4 couples, woman on the
right of the man
Sometimes danced with 2 couples per side (Rivkind);i.e., 8 couples,
(numbers represent which couple is which), all facing centre.
Couple 1 has their back to the music:
(A) All join hands, circle to the left for
circle to the right for 16 counts (back to original places)
(B) Couples 1 & 3, advance towards
each other for 4 counts
retire, back to place with 4 counts
Couples 1 & 3, exchange places (8 counts), see below for details of how to change places
Couples 2 & 4 advance, retire and exchange places as described for 1 & 3
Everyone now has exchanged places, it's
time to go back!
The sequence is repeated exactly as above which will return everyone to their original positions.
(C) Men 1 & 3 exchange places, 8 counts
Now man 1 is with woman 3, and man 3 is with woman 1
The couples turn with the new partner for 8 counts. Position for the turn is hands on partner's
shoulders, turn to theleft, using small walking steps.
The whole process is repeated, including the turn, returning men to their original positions
This exchange process is now done using man 2 & 4 (exchange, turn, return, turn)
The entire dance can be repeated 2 or 3 times from the beginning.
All join hands, circle to left for 16 counts
(D) In the movie, Dancing into Marriage,
Lee Ellen Friedland states that people
can go into the middle and shine (show off) after the circle.
(E) Now proceed to the thread the
needle figure described under the freylekhs instructions
and snake around the room. It is wise to decide ahead of time, who in the group
will lead the threading. You can unwind as described in the "Thread the Needle" instructions
or if the group requires a simpler method, have everyone raise their arms and
then turn to the right part-way, which automatically unwinds everyone at once.
You may also choose to remain coiled as an ending to the dance.
According to Joyce Mollov, in the movie
Dancing into Marriage, the Thread the Needle
represents the backstitch and the unwinding represents removing the stitches without breaking the thread.
How to exchange places (couples)
One method you can use is to have one of
the couples raise their arms to produce an arch, and
have the other couple pass through the arch. Then, each couple must turn as a couple, with
the man backing up and the lady moving forward, positioning themselves
in their new spots, with the lady on the right.
Another method is to have the couples slip past each other as follows:
The couples advance towards each other,
then each couple moves
a bit to their own right. The couples then move past each other with the men
passing left shoulders. The couples then take the exchanged position in the square.
One way to teach this technique is to have
the 2 couples advance towards each
other and join hands, forming their own little circle. Circle 1/2 way round to the right.
The two couples separate from one another and each backs in to the
new position on the square. Eventually they can form an imaginary circle and slip past each other.
How to exchange places (individuals)
The two men advance towards each other
with 4 steps (RLRL) taking a
little dip on the fourth step, meeting in the middle, almost right shoulder to right shoulder.
Each man moves a bit backward and to his
own right. They pass left shoulders
and use the remaining 2 steps to meet the opposite lady.
The path that is traced by the men going
back and forth is supposed to represent
the blades of the scissors; the rotation around each other in my mind, may
represent the pivot point of the scissors (does anyone know?).
Alternatively, the woman can be on the
left of the man in couples 2& 4
(see Lapson’s choreography, reference listed in resource section).
This formation was used to avoid handholding between men and women who
were not married, assuming all 4 couples were married couples. Instead of having
2 men exchange places as described above, this version of the dance had a
man exchanging places with a woman; the turn was then done with 2 men dancing
together and 2 women dancing together. The man and woman would then return
to their own partner. Discussions on the Jewish Music List (September 13 & 14, 1999)
indicate that even this formation would not have been acceptable to traditional rabbis
and is probably a modern development (over the last 100 years) due to
a more liberalized society. However, the article by Zvi Friedhaber listed on the
resource page suggests there were people who broke the rules all along.
At the present time separate dancing is still the rule at orthodox celebrations
Rivkind describes this as a dance/game similar to musical chairs.
Individuals walk around the room without music. One man walks
with a stick. Suddenly, he drops the stick, sits down and everyone
scrambles for a chair (there is one less chair than people).
Whoever is left picks up the stick and the game continues.
Reference to this dance in a yizkor book translated by Yale Strom in the Book of Klezmer:
"One deaf man got up on a table and with his cane did the shtek tants." [at a wedding]
Memorial Book of Suchowola, 1957
Read more about Shtok Dance
See video of Slow Hora from Ashkenaz Festival 2008, led by Steve Weintraub
( as described by Jacob Bloom, learned from Michael Alpert 1994 KlezKamp)
Slow 3/8 time signature
1 step per measure
If you check your klezmer cd’s you are
bound to find a hora which has this characteristic 3/8time signature.
Note that the rhythm pattern is very different from the Israeli hora, and the dance is much slower.
Formation: circle or line, “w” hand
Styling: Dance progresses to the right-steps made to the right are larger than steps to the left
There is no movement into centre
Arms up and joined, arms raising slightly
on each step
(facing right) Walk right, left, right, (facing center) touch left foot
(facing left) Walk left, right, left, (facing right and leaning back
slightly) touch right foot
Visit the Hora page to learn more about the meaning of the word "Hora."
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