Folk is an old tradition in North Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot people do their folk-dances at the ceremonious occassions such as marriages, kina nights, harvest days, etc. These dances are generally performed in the following sequence : meeting dances, henkerchief dances, “zeybek” dance, women dances, dramatic dances, and butcher dances. Meeting dances consist of men and women gathering. The women’s dances are generally slower in tempo.
Cypriot men used to dance mostly during wedding festivities, festivals and at various junkets on high days and holidays, but also in coffee-houses in the evenings, on threshing-floors, and wherever men gathered together. Social convention restricted women to mainly dancing at weddings.
Folk dances are the expression of feelings, thoughts and enjoyment of the people.
The origin of folk dancing is very old. It may even be said to be related to shamanist ceremonies and early religious and incantational worship.
In the period we are considering, roughly from 1910 to the seventies, the basic dance of both men and women was the "kartchilamas" performed by a confronted pair of dancers. The "kartchilamas" consists of a series of dances that vary slightly according to the performers, the locality, or the era. These dances are essentially parts of a whole, or suite, the parts being known as the "kartchilamas" or "first", "second", "third", "fourth", and "fifth" or "balos", rounded off by other dances such as the "syrtos", "zeipekkikos", and "mandra". A feast would usually end with one of the pan-hellenic dances, the "kalamatianos", and a circle-dance in which all might join.
Folk dancing is one way of gaining a deeper understanding of the Turkish Cypriot life both past and present.