Skip to main content

Let's Dance Like an Eagle: Zeybek Dance in Turkey

Designed by: Paiyu Chiu
University of Washington

Teach the history and geography of Turkey, focusing on the Anatolia region and Zeybek traditions. Students will learn to identify rhythmic patterns in Turkish music and Zeybek dance.

Suggested Grade Levels: 9-12
Country: Turkey
Region: Middle East
Culture Group: Turkish
Genre: Zeybek
Instruments: Drums
Language: N/A
Co-Curricular Areas: Social Studies, Dance
National Standards: 2, 3, 6, 8, 9
Prerequisites: None


  • Listening to instruments and beats
  • Identify instruments: zurna (wind instrument), baglama (string), Davul (double-side drum)
  • Learn history and geography of Turkey focusing on the Anatolia region and Zeybek’s history


Lesson Segments:

  1. “Harmandali” (National Standards 2, 3, 6, 8, 9)
  2. “Yayla Yollari” (National Standards 2, 6, 8, 9)

1. “Harmandali”

Click to view recording details

“Harmandali Zeybek (Dance Tune)”
from Songs & Dances of Turkey (1996) | MON71403

Click to view recording details

“Hovarda Zeybek”
from Folk and Traditional Music of Turkey (1953) | FW04404

Click to view recording details

“Zeybek (Dance from Izmir)”
from Songs and Dances of Turkey (1955) | FW08801

  1. Listen to recording
    1. Clap the beat
    2. Ask students: How many beats can they count on the first phrase?
  2. Ask students if they can identify where this music comes from
  3. Ask students which types of instruments they hear in this piece and show the pictures of the instruments
  4. Bring out drums and demonstrate the simplified rhythm of the drum part while students try the rhythm on the drum or their lap
  5. Show students the notation and explain the special rhythmic patterns and have them play on their instruments
  6. Show students the video clip of “Harmandali” and explain the form and characters of the agir(slow) zeybek
  7. Show the map of Turkey and introduce the history of Zeybek and the character of Zeybek Dance (feel free to look on internet for more information)
  8. Demonstrate the fundamental steps of this Zeybek Dance. Ask students to form a circle and dance with the music
  9. Show students other versions of “Harmandali” and so that they understand how the tune can be improvised for various zeybek-dancing occasions
  10. Have students create new drum patterns or improvise the melody

Are the students able to create new drum patterns and improvise in the style of the listening examples?

2. “Yayla Yollari”

  1. Listen to the music
    1. Identify if this is the agi r (slow) Zeybek or Ki vrak(fast) Zeybek
    2. Ask students to focus on the beat and see who can find it; give students the hint to listen to the drum part at the beginning
  2. Ask students to identify the main instrument of this piece
  3. Ask students to clap the drum pattern
    / // / ///
    1- 34 5- 789
  4. Watch the video clip of “Yayla Yollari” and compare to “Harmandali” to discuss the differences between these two dances in tempos, costumes, meters and steps.

Can the students demonstrate the differences between the two dances? Can they explain and perform the drum pattern?