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Cane Dancing, Saidi, Raks Assaya, Tahtib: A Versatile Dance for All Ages and All Genders
Cane dancing by the female of the species is tradionally flirtatious and charming, danced in a long dress (beledi dress, galabeya) which covers the body and makes the dance seem more family-friendly to conservative American audiences. Men dance a more martial version, Tahtib, with one or two straight sticks.
Lauren Haas's Saidi and Raks Assaya page claims that performance Tahtib derives from Tahtib competitions, with the men's version of Raks Assaya remaining close to its martial arts roots. Female cane and stick dancing is "a women's version of the men's dance, especially for stage." Lauren also states that although the Saidi rhythm is most commonly associated with Raks Assaya, baladi rhythm and debke songs are also incorporated into Raks Assaya performances.
From JasminJahal.com: Saidi: (long vowels: si-e-de). A folkloric dance from upper Egypt. Energetic and earthy, using the 4/4 rhythm known as the Saidi rhythm. The dancer uses one or two sticks, originally made of bamboo. There are two types of Saidi stick dance: Raks Assaya and the Tahtib. The Tahtib is performed by two men and depicts a dance of combat and the handling of weaponry. Raks Assaya is performed by men and/or women and shows off a more acrobatic version of handling the stick. The women's version of the stick dance is, of course, much more feminine and graceful, and can only lightly imitate the Tahtib. Saidi music is typically played by traditional instruments such as the Rababa (the grandfather of today's violin), the Mizmar (a horn which emits long, whiney tones), and various percussion instruments such as the dumbek and the tabla beledi. The traditional men's costume consists of long pants, two galabeyas with wide sleeves and a round neckline, and a long scarf wound around the head. The women wear a Beledi dress with a belt or scarf around the hips and a veil on the head.
Focus a lot on saidi steps - which can be done with or without the cane, but are essential for that saidi feel.
Things Faten Munger emphasizes that make a difference:
Dancers based in NYC should arrange private lessons with Nourhan Sharif if you want to learn cane from a great Saiidi dancer
Cane Dance Videos:
Folkloric Cane, Stick and Staff:
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Author: Maura Enright
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