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History of Egiptian dance

 

 

 

History

If you are visiting this page it means that popularity of this dance, called “belly dance” is not declining but in opposite, rising. We can even state that now we have a boom of oriental dance in Moscow! Practically at any place you go to relax you can see belly dancing. And it means that belly dance is not of no interest for people and moreover will never be! Every day new and new belly dancers appear in Moscow, and new teachers, and new schools for teaching this beautiful kind of dance. We don’t want to offend anybody but sometimes the teachers themselves don’t know what it, belly dance, is and couldn’t answer correctly on many questions asked during the teaching process. Oriental belly dance becomes Fashion!

To keep you correctly informed annually we organize belly dance festivals with participation of Egyptian stars of belly dance.

We just wish to say that it’s not a competition to show up the best Moscow dancers you’ve seen many times before and there is no need to judge and evaluate anybody. It’s the Festival where you can learn about the history of oriental dance, to learn that is folklore, to see different kinds of oriental dance, to see special costumes for each kind of dance, to socialize together, to see our professional dancers and to present yourselves in case of such opportunity.

FOLKLORIC

Folkloric (folk) dance is the dance originated from the traditions of the particular country or area. Usually it consists of moves, easy to be learned by big groups of people. Traditionally folkloric dance goes across the generations in surroundings where people dance it. Folklore is the cultural heritage of particular terrain reflecting their traditions, habits, music, costumes and history. Folkloric dance, in its turn can de divided into the following groups:

 1. performed by all people and expressing their feelings. It’s not related to a theater and widely common in folk festivals and weddings.

2. performed by professionals of theater dance art.

 

Kinds of oriental dance:

SAIDI ORIENTAL – صعيدىأورينتال

 

Many different kind of nationalities live in Egypt, but the most fiery and dangerous are Saidi (Upper Egypt). They live along the Nile river from Asyun to Aswan, in the southern part of the country. Men of this area are keen of nice moustache. They specially grow and care it because big and long moustache is a sign of well-being and prosperity, specially if they come with weapon, gold and four wives. In Upper Egypt people usually says: The most handsome (tough) man can set an eagle on his moustache.

Saidi – this world means everything related to Upper Egypt. This king if dance can be performed with asaya عصاية (stick, cane) or without.

 Asaya – Arabic name of stick. This dance came from Upper Egypt. Traditionally, in the Upper Egypt, men carried long bamboo sticks with them which they used as weapons, and eventually they evolved a men’s dance - Tahtiyb تحطيب in which they feigned fighting with these sticks. Women then began to dance with sticks but made this dance more gentle and playful, and eventually developed their own style - raks al assaya رقص  العصاية.

 GHAWAZEE - غوازي

 

Ghawazee is gypsies living in Egypt. The first significant mention about Ghawazee dated by 18th century when gypsies were banished from Cairo in 1834 and settled in the Upper Egypt. Their music, dance and culture distinctly differ from those of Saidi people historically inhabiting this area. Usually performed with cymbals صاجات (style of Naima Akef).

 BALADI - بلدي

Translating from Arabic this world means my motherland, my native city or town. In Egyptian slang sounds like shaaby شعبي. Balady dance was performing in many villages all over the Egypt. Generally it was performed in the woman’s house and for women. Usually it was hip moves. Hand moves were rather easy and unsystematic. Dance performed barefoot. Traditional costume for this dance – white galabeya جلابية with the scarf on hips and headscarf. Shaaby is the very popular style in Egypt, specially in central part of Old Cairo on Mohammed Ali street, where many famous dancers were born and currently living. This is the style of such famous dancers as Nagwa Foad, Fifi Abdu, Zinat Olwy.

 

KHALIGI - خليجي

 

Khaligi means gulf and in the dance world this word is used for music and dance style from Arab gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. This group of dances performed by women and makes accent on beauty of costume and hair of the dancer. Moves include clear quick shoulder shaking, handclaps in a different rhythms and various steps. Traditional dress for this dance – abaya عباية (foustan khaligi فوستان خليجي).

 NUBIA - نوبة

Nubia, famous in the ancient times as Kush Kingdom, lays to the south from Aswan to the capital of Sudan – Khartum. Nubian people have more dark skin than Egyptians, have their own language, own culture and traditions. Aswan is the most sunny place in Egypt. It is situated on the south of the country and in ancient times was borderline city. Life here is very slow. It’s very pleasant to walk by foot along the Cornish or by boat  down the Nile river, to seat in the small restaurant with waterview, to listen old Nubian music. Nubian dance is a group dance. Colorful costumes, special unusual rhythm. People from Nubia are very cheerful and like to dance all together. On occasion of marriage hundreds of people come together and dance.

 Nubia is the name of the city and area on the south of Egypt and situated on the border with Sudan. Nubian dance is a group dance. Mainly it’s hip moves, beautiful arm swings and special unusual rhythm, generally quick (like khaligi rhythm). Major accessorizes for this dance – dof دف (tambourine) and Hous خوص (cane plate).

 SIWA – سيوة

Siwa is one of arab Bedouins dance styles. On the border with Libia and Africa in the Sahara desert between the mountains there is a Bedouin village named Siwa. Siwa was once considered to be the most unreachable of all Egypt 's oases until recently,. Inhabitants of Siwa have their own culture and traditions and speak berber language different from Arabic language. Most of women wear traditional dresses and silver jewelry. The name Arabic settlement “Wahet Siwa” sounds like “oasis in the city”. Siwa is the name of town and people. The main accent in Siwa dance is focused on the hip moves. Only small number of professionals can perform this dance. Traditional costume for this dance is knee-high galabeya plus wide trousers and headscarf covering half of the face. Women like to use many accessories for hands (as well as women from the Gulf countries.

 HAGGALA – حجالة

 HAGGALA (hagala) is a dance style of Bedouins, living in Sahara oases. In Arabic HAGGALA means „jumping“. It is very energetic dance with focus on hip moves. Claps and jumps (jumps are mostly performed by men) are also used. Men’s HAGGALA dance is similar to Lebanese DABKA. Traditional costume of this dance is a dress and skirt with a lot of ruffles.

 

ANDALUSIAN – أندلوسين

 

ANDALUZIA was the name of southern part of Spain, which was occupied by Arabs for 800 years. This dance developed right in this area and assumed many elements of flamenco. Actually one of the versions of the word “flamenco” origin is from Arabic language and means “singing farmer”. This dance is performed under accompaniment of beautiful, rhythmical and at the same time relaxing music. The costume should highlight the weightlessness of every move.

 

DABKA – دبكة

 

 

DABKA – is attractive fiery folkloric Lebanese dance. It is necessary part of native festivals from the old times until now. DABKA is usually performed by men.

 ALEXANDRIА اسكندراني

 ALEXANDRIA (Aleksandrija) is the second largest city of Egypt, having more Mediterranean then oriental features. The culture of this city differs form the rest part of Egypt, even it is only 225 km from Cairo. In Arabic ALEXANDRIAN is pronounced as ESKANDARANI.

ESKANDARANI dance style is cheerful, playful and fiery. Traditional costume of this style is dress and large scarf – ملاية . MELAYA is a part of ALEXANDRIAN women dress.

 

SHAMADAN – شمعدان

 

 

In Egyptian language the name of this dance sounds different  - عواله -AWALEM.

Full name – رقص الشمعدان – RAQS AL SHAMADAN. It’s a dance with candlestick. From old times this dance was performed on Egyptian weddings. The dancer carry on her head big inscribed candle lighting the way to the happy marital life for the groom and bride. The dancer confounds with her arts of isolated from each other separate hip and breast moves and soft steps – after all, candlestick has to stay stable! The design of this costume should be planned carefully, so it won’t be burned and spoiled with dropping candle wax. Traditional costume of this dance – wide pants and short blouse or bra or very long dress  with slinky top and wide bottom.

 

FARAONIC  DANCE – رقص فرعوني

 

Seven thousands years ago Egyptians already new how to dance and this can be seen in frescos also on the temples’ walls. „Untill now we still don’t know how they have been dancing, but we can predict how they used to start the phrase of the dance and how they used to finish it. “We create the moves and their combinations inspired by the ancient frescos using the fantasy of nowadays Egyptian choreographers.” (from the book of famous choreographer and lecturer of oriental dance history Nabil Mabrouk).

 

RAQS SHARQI – رقص شرقي

 

 

 RAQS SHARQI also called ORIENTAL BELLY DANCE. The exact meaning is “The Dance of Belly”, i.e. the part of body between navel and hips. In many countries, including Russia, this dance id called “Belly dance” but it’s not correct. There are many versions why this dance was called exactly so. Maybe in other languages there is no right word to describe this part of the body.

 

Why „BELLY DANCE“? Maybe the name of this dance comes from arab word „BALADI“, which means „motherland“, „home town“. By the way, the main part of the elements of this dance consists of „BALADI“ moves, but moves of other dance styles can be also found. In one word we can say that RAQS SHARQI is the compound of numerous Egyptian folkloric dance styles. From 1921 Baladi Style also called Oriental Shaabi. Sure, for these 90 years the syle of this dance was modernized and mixed with other oriental styles. But don’t forget, that Raks Sharki or Oriental Belly Dance is a part of Egyptian folklore. And Egyptian folklore accounts more than 25 styles of dance and all these dances are performed mainly by the part of the body called “belly”.

 

TABLA طبلة

 

It’s impossible to imagine Oriental countries without Arabic drums called “Tabla”. The sound of this instrument can be heard everywhere you can stay in Arab countries. In the streets, on the bazaars, in coffee-shops, on the ship, at any Arabic wedding….

Tabla is the most popular and famous Arabic instrument. This instument is a heart of oriental music and dance. Extremely beloved and adorable in Russia. Maybe because the sound of this instrument reminds of the heartbeat…

There are 9 different rhythms of tabla and unfortunately not many people in Russia know about it. Meanwhile it’s a privilege of Arab Egyptians. We hope that in the nearest future the real school for learning the play on this magic instrument will be opened in Russia.

TANNURAتنورة

This Sufi- type of the Tanura dance (Al Daraweesh) has a very special characteristic as it relies on the dancer’s unlimited moves in circles. This rounded move is a reflection of a special philosophical concept in the Islam Sufi rituals known as the Mulawia sect. Believers of this concept see the universe stems from the same point of rotation. As the universe starts and ends from the same point, the senior dancer (Lafife) who represents the sun, will always start and end his movement from that point. While the junior dancers (Hanatia), representing the stars, move around him. They all move counterclockwise, in a concurrent circles echoing the four seasons and very much like the pilgrims’ movement around Kaba (The Muslims’ holy shrine). Once the senior dancer stretches his right hand upward while the pointing down with his left hand, he would be establishing the connection between the earth and the sky. Moving in circles, the dancer is very much like alleviating his wordily burdens, reaching ecstasy in a symbolical attempt to approach heaven. Once he unties the belt around his waist, the dancer would be rhetorically moving upward to heaven

 

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