Dances of the Roma

Romani dances from Turkey, Russia, and the Balkans

Originating in India and moving west into Europe and North Africa, the Roma (Gypsies) have played an essential role in the migration and development of the world’s performing arts traditions, creating new music and dance forms through combining their own unique flavor with the musical traditions of the cultures they encountered.

Hannah presents Romani dance from India, Turkey, the Balkans, Russia, and Spain for events, presentations, workshops, and authentic entertainment.


Indian Kalbelia ~ The Kabelia are a desert tribe of snake-charmers, musicians, and dancers in Rajasthan India. They are considered one of the original tribes that left India hundreds of years ago and moved west, where they because known as the Roma. Their dance is called Sapera in homage to their totem animal, the snake.



Turkish Roman ~ Turkish Roman music is known for its signature 9/8 rhythm that lends a spunky feeling to the dance. The dance is characterized by complex pelvic isolations, including tossing of the belly, and expressive gestures often mimicking aspects of life, such as playing instruments, cleaning clothes, churning butter, or drinking coffee. Delightfully cheeky and playful, this solo improvisational dance provides an opportunity for each dancer to show off her or his personality. Workshops include instruction in: history of the Roma, traditional gestures and footwork, pelvic isolations, some theatrical movements, turns, and floor-work. Loose pants, a hip scarf, and kneepads are recommended.

Ruska Roma (Russian Romani dance) ~ In the 19th century Gypsy choruses became quite popular among the Russian elite, who romanticized the Romani way of life and expressed these idealizations through literature and art. Following the Gypsy choruses came the Romen Theater, which opened in Moscow in 1931 and featured ensembles of dancers, singers, and musicians performing operettas with Romani themes. With an established history as a theatrical genre for the stage, Russian Gypsy dance blends traditional elements, such as foot stomping, with theatrical staging and takes inspiration from Russian aesthetics. Joyful and energetic, the Ruska Roma women’s dance uses a wide full skirt in large graceful swirling movements, expressive arms held high over the head, exuberant turns and backbends, and exciting percussive footwork. Please bring a long full skirt and hard-soled (character) shoes as there will be some footwork. A full choreography will be taught.


“Hannah was every bit the talented artist, entertainer and professional at our wedding reception performance. She brought with her the most interesting and authentic music and dance group, all of whom captured the attention of the guests and brought a whole new dynamic to the party. Hannah is charming and engaging – two traits that make watching her perform an absolute delight.” -Kara W., San Rafael CA