Khorumi

[Kara Kolbe]

The Khorumi is an elaborate Georgian war dance inspired by military traditions. Khorumi was developed in the Adjara region, in the southwestern corner of Georgia. It originated during the “period of heroic wars against the conquering armies of the Turks, Mongolians and other nations”, and has become the most famous style of Georgian folk dancing (Sukhishvili).  The dance beautifully evokes the history of the Georgian military, emphasizing courage and strength through a celebration of war. Khorumi artistically captures the Georgian ritual of war, and continues to serve as a symbol of modern military heroism.

The Khorumi is broken into four episodes, each representing a different phase of war. In the first phase, a small number of dancers (representing the commander and his soldiers) begin preparations for battle and scout out enemy forces. Next, more dancers join to reflect the approaching enemy’s army. The third episode is the most readily identifiable part of the Khorumi: the battle. This is often the most elaborate scene, representing the glory and strength of the Georgian military forces. Finally, the finale presents the dramatic (and successful) conclusion to the battle and the heroes’ triumphant return home (Ninoshvili, 98).

Khorumi is preformed with musical accompaniment, specifically traditional Georgian drums (doli) and bagpipes (chiboni) (Wikipedia). The Khorumi is unique in Georgian folk dance, because it traditionally does not include vocal accompaniment. It is also the only dance in the Georgian folk repertoire to use a 5/4-meter rhythm.

The Khorumi has become “a template for the performance of Georgian military skill and sophistication in the art of war” (Ninoshvili, 97). Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and in the wake of recent military struggles with Russia, Khorumi-inspired songs and dances have become increasingly popular in Georgia. Its strength and longevity as an art form lies in its ability to merge historical memories of power with modern conceptions of military, social, and political strength.  Indeed, a particularly intriguing merging of modern Georgian martial symbols with the traditional khorumi dance can be see here.

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