Halk Sanatları Derneği (Has-Der) or the Folk Arts Association, was founded in 1977 as a folk dancing group. For several years, its activities were restricted to participating in local and mainland festivals and perform folk dances. The repertoire consisted of five Turkish Cypriot dances and regional dances from mainland Turkey. After a brief hiatus, the group reorganized in 1981 and under new leadership, began to expand its activities. It actively sought to dispel the widely held misconception that folklore was synonymous with folk dancing and embraced other folk arts. In folk dancing itself, it started to focus on Cypriot dances and expanded the repertoire by doing field research. It sought to educate the public by organizing exhibitions and symposiums and publishing periodicals. It raised consciousness and generated controversy and discourse. It became a catalyst for the explosion of folk dancing activity by reaching out to communities and help form other folk dancing groups.
Has-Ders activities met with much resistance initially since, unlike the earlier dances in the repertoire that had been developed to accentuate the Turkish aspects of our culture, the new dances emphasized the shared folk dancing tradition of the two communities. It was ultimately vindicated as other groups began to include these dances in their repertoire, the very dances they had branded as being Greek. Has-Ders contribution to keeping a semblance of Turkish Cypriot culture alive in the face of an onslaught of modernity is immeasurable.
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