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Assyrians dancing khigga at a party event.

Khigga is a style of Assyrian folk dance in which multiple dancers hold each other's hands and form a circle. There are multiple foot patterns that dancers perform. Its thought to have been danced for thousands of years. It is one of the most common and simplest Assyrian folk dances, generally performed at weddings and other joyous occasions. Set in common time, khigga is accompanied by a moderate dance beat and is usually performed to Assyrian folk/pop music.

To note, the term Khigga is occasionally used to denote all the Assyrian folk circle dances, i.e. "Khigga'd Belaty" ("Khigga of Belaty"), "Khigga'd Gubareh", etc.[1]



An example of khigga music in the 1980s. Drum sets and other acoustic instruments were used up until the mid 1990s, when electronic drums and synthesizers ultimately replaced them.

Khigga is traditionally danced with music played on the zurna, supported by a davul, but in recent years, electronic instruments have started to replace them.

The khigga has spread from Anatolia to many other regions, such as Armenia and the Balkans. The khigga is a group of traditional hand-holding dances similar to those from the Balkans and Eastern European countries, with a single or a couple of figure dancers often added to the geometrical centre of the dancing circle.

In Assyrian weddings, as well as parties and other various social gatherings, people may dance khigga for hours. Every region has its own style and forms. Khigga is simple to dance and it is the first beat that is played in welcoming the bride and groom to the reception hall.


An example of a standard khigga dance from a 1992 party in Sydney (Singer: Adwar Mousa).

As with most Assyrian folk dances, khigga assumes an open circular shape. In a restricted floor space (e.g. a lot of tables), the dance tend to wind over the room and assume spiral, circular and curvy shapes. Arms are predominantly used which usually move independently of the legs. Arm motions include bouncing, swinging forward and back, moving side-to-side. The torso, along with the shoulders and arms, bounces up and down rhythmically, often independently of the legs. Stomps and stamps are also present. Khigga goes by the time signature of 4
and tempo between 100 and 115. Connection can also be made by pinkies, especially in the much slower forms of khigga.

Khigga has other varieties such as "Heavy Khigga" or "Normal/Standard Khigga". With Heavy Khigga (or "Khigga Yaqoora" in Assyrian), the tempo is 'heavier', as its title suggests, where the participants would make more ardent and exaggerated moves, such as knee bending and rhythmical shoulder motions. It is not to be confused with Siskani, as that dance beat is faster and has distinguishing techniques. The Siskany dance, which may be deemed as a khigga variant, is a much faster paced form of khigga where the dancers bend their knees and briskly shake their shoulders in a zippy manner. Sometimes the khigga beat is geared up to this to indicate a climactic end.

The head of the khigga line, referred to as "Resha d'khigga" (ܪܝܫܐ ܕܚܓܐ), usually dances with a Yalekhta (ܝܠܚܬܐ), or a handkerchief with beads and bells added to the sides so it jingles when shaken. A Yalekhta can have many different designs on the piece of cloth. A "copala" (ܟܘܦܠܐ), or decorated cane, is also used at many Assyrian weddings.

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