WiP: Justin Balcor on the Doli drum in Georgian traditional dance

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are pleased to announce the 18th talk of the Spring/Summer 2023 Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series!

The talk will take place in hybrid format in-person at CRRC Georgia and online through Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/…/tZwvcO6tpz0pHNfWOa56oqM4AYpwf…

“Without doli, there can’t be ballet”: The Role of the Doli drum in Georgian Traditional Dance

Justin Balcor, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Date: 26 July 2023, at 18:30

For decades, Georgian dance has captivated audiences across the world through various performances by ensembles such as Rustavi, Sukhishvili, and Erisioni. These performances convey Georgian history and that of the Greater Caucasus through dance and music, depicting vignettes of each region of Georgia and narrating stories of the country’s past and present. In this paper, I explore how the rhythms used in these regional vignettes, performed on the doli, a drum common in the region, not only guide these stories but also anchor nationalistic narratives, such as territorial claims to the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Samachablo. Drawing upon two summers of dissertation field research on the doli drum, this paper aims to highlight the ways in which the doli not only communicates with dancers and musicians but also how its rhythms create a unifying trend for the Caucasus. This, in turn, foregrounds Georgian dance and places Georgia at the epicenter of the Caucasian rhythmic power structure, resulting in quasi-soft power in the region.

Justin Balcor is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His doctoral work focuses on musical instruments (specifically the Georgian doli), national/gender identity, and musical constructions of masculinity in the Republic of Georgia. Justin is currently conducting summer dissertation research and Georgian language training in Tbilisi, Georgia, supported by the American Councils Title VIII Combined Research and Language Training Program and the U.S. State Department.

Works-in-Progress is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place office of CRRC at Liziko Kavtaradze St. 1 and online. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

In observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule, the talks will not be recorded, and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing recordings as well. The opinions expressed in WiP talks are those of the speakers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC, ARISC or of American Councils.