Kazakh Dancing, Kara Jorga Style!

Қара Жорға (Qara Jorga) is a popular dance song in Kazakhstan. My first connection with it is when my infant host brother was trained to perform it for houseguests. Snapping his little fingers and moving around, he’d dance around on his little toes and everyone would clap and give him candy. At the time (three years ago) I understood that the repeating “bolmasa” means “if there’s not,” but didn’t get the poetic language at all. Here’s a modern version of the song:

Now I still don’t fully get poetry in Kazakh, but I’ve mocked up a rough translation, which starts:

Qara jorga bolmasa / beedin sani keler me?
Qos etek koilek kimese / qizdin sani keler me?
Al qanekei joldastar / bireuin shiq toi bastar
Toi degende deidi-eken / domalaidi qu bastar

Without it, will the dance be fashionable?
Without flouncy dresses, will girls be beautiful?
Come, my comrades, leave your someone
Start the party, move around, you guys!

There are a lot of verses, so check my blog for more English lyrics if you want them.

Variations on a song

I love the video above because it seems to be choreographed by a group of Halyk Bank employees in national costume, in front of the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s financial center. But that’s not all! If you want to learn the dance, you can follow along with this Kazakh-language tutorial video:

And the Stroyclass construction firm has posted a great panoramic version on the rooftops of Astana, Kazakhstan’s architecturally-inspired capital city:

But finally… there’s “Kara Jorga Style!” Yes. Not just another Gangnam Style, but a Russian rap commentary set to the tune of last year’s Korean hit song.

I enjoy how the singer has worked local and international culture together in this praise of a Kazakh song. And I also appreciate the surprise appearance from angry birds at the end!


Featured image credits: Ian Gallardo via Flickr


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About the author

Celia Emmelhainz
Celia Emmelhainz is from the midwestern US, and studied for a master's in anthropology at Texas A&M before taking up work as an academic librarian in Kazakhstan.
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  • I love these videos! From the music I was expecting more vigorous dancing, it’s very elegant and poised. Does Halyk Bank mean People’s Bank? In Turkey there is Halk Bank which is the People’s Bank.

  • Yes, it definitely does! The languages have a lot of similarity.

    And I just ran across this older article about Kara Jorga flash mobs, which also crop up frequently on YouTube! http://www.eurasianet.org/node/64223

  • Very nice dance!!!

  • Hayley

    Where can I get a copy of the music? I love it!

  • Hi Hayley! I’ve not been able to find the music sold anywhere in the west, so I’d suggest looking to Lifehacker.com on how to convert youtube to audio. Since there are many folk versions and no commercial version, that shouldn’t be a problem.