The term ‘Romani’ is one of several terms used to describe the nation of people sometimes referred to as “Gypsy”.
With no homeland, the origin of the Romani people of the world has often been hotly contested in the past. Linguistic and genetic advances have, however, all but proven that ancestors of the Romani people were among the large populations of north-western Indian people who began migrations out of India around 1000 years ago.
As these ancestors dispersed and settled westward throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe they both influenced and were influenced by the various cultures they came in contact with. Because of this the music, dance, language, and traditions of Romani people can be seen to contain elements of many different cultures.
It is important to realise that, because of this widespread dispersion, there are many different Romani populations all over the world, each group displaying unique traditions that have resulted from blending the Romani culture with the culture of the country in which they live. For example, the Romani of Spain have different dialect and traditions than the Romani of Turkey. They do however have strong similarities.
Throughout history and in modern times the Romani people have faced prejudice, poverty, discrimination and extermination. In the modern era they have struggled to have themselves recognized as a legitimate ethnic group and distinct nation with their own language, history and culture. Stereotypes and generalisations of “Gypsies” further dilute and trivialise Romani culture and should be avoided at all costs. Most, if not all, stereotypes are completely false and based on ignorance.
At Soul Dance we teach and perform several different Romani dances from different parts of the world; Turkish Romaan, Indian Kalbeya, Bare-foot Flamenco, Balkan Cocek and our own unique fusion styles; “Shuvani Medieval” and “Ozencia Gypsy Soul”.
*Most Romani groups find it highly offensive to be called “Gypsy”, but some groups embrace the term.