» Encyclopedic Dictionary » Dance Index »

CANE DANCING (Raks Assaya)

Cane Dancing, Saidi, Raks Assaya, Tahtib: A Versatile Dance for All Ages and All Genders

Keep up with a FREE subscription to the BABA YAGA newsletter.

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 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 The dancer uses one or two sticks, originally made of bamboo.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:

  1. Very loose wrists, arms, and shoulders -- warm them up well.
  2. Elbows close to the body but not jammed into the waist.
  3. Cane parallel to the body, perpendicular to the floor for all vertical twirling. To achieve this, strongly cross the arm holding the cane across the body so that the cane-holding hand extends past the other arm.
  4. Start very slowly and time it: down on one, up on two. Learn to keep time with the cane from the very beginning.
  5. Closed hand for control on the downward arc, open hand on the upward arc to let it dry and cool at bit. No death grip on the cane at any time.
  6. Very upright, strong, open-chested posture. Do not slump or bend forward when striking the cane on the floor or doing hip circles.


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:

Tahtib Videos:

  • The incomparable Horacio Cifuentes does a theatrical tahtib.
  • The incomparable Tito leads a group of dancers in a martial Saidi dance with cane at a Nile group event.
  • And again, Tito leading a group Saidi dance at a Nile Group event.
  • Tito starts with two sticks, goes to four, goes back to two, goes to four, and finishes off with a Whirling Dervish finale.
  • Tito, again, in a striped robe, a striped turban, four striped sticks, and cowboy boots.
  • An elderly Ney player with the right attitude.
  • Double Cane by Mohamed Shahin.
  • Karim Nagi, percussionist and dancer, performing with one and two canes. Karim Nagi is a popular teacher of Egyptian percussion and folk dancing.
  • Tahtib in a nightclub setting. Amusing and unusual, to say nothing of the girl and the horse that join in.
  • Turbo Tabla BASIC TAHTEEB Cane Dance notes
  • Tito Seif and Ousama Emam and their fancy canes, big feet and 100-watt smiles in Stockholm. Then they start to get silly at about minute two...

Folkloric Cane, Stick and Staff:

Keep up with a FREE subscription to the BABA YAGA newsletter.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
©2012 - 2015 by Maura Enright
© means the content is copyrighted. Your links to this content are much appreciated.