Saidi Dance is an ancient folkloric dance form Upper Egypt. It combines martial arts movements (known as tahteeb) performed with a staff or cane (assaya). Traditionally, men perform tahteeb, as the ancient Egyptians used it as combat training for battle. The women perform a more theatrical style of tahteeb, called raqs assaya, celebrating the specialized combat skills, which was popularized by Mahmoud Reda, an Egyptian choreographer. They dance with lighter weight canes, and flaunt the ease of maneuvering them with lots of twils, sometimes dancing with two canes simultaneously. Footwork in this dance often mimics the majestic white Egyptian horses. Traditionally, a loose fitting galabiyaa is worn both by men and women when performing, with a turban or headscarf. Women will also wear a scarf tied around their hips to showcase the movement.
Sources: Torkom Moysesiyan, Ashraf Hassan
Fellahi & Melaya Leff
Fellahi dance is inspired by the farmers (Fellahin means Farmers in Arabic) of Egypt. The dance and movement styles vary depending upon which Arabic speaking country the dancers are drawing inspiration; Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon Fellahi Dances will all look slightly different. The concept of a Fellahi dance is the same however, it depicts the everyday work of the farmers; tasks dealing with irrigation and agriculture such as collecting water in jugs or gathering the harvest into baskets. It is a playful dance, with lots of interaction between the dancers. The costuming for this folkloric dance is a loose fitting dress, mimicking a smock type dress the farmers would wear to do their work. Dancers also perform Fellahi in a more narrow cut dress, sometimes referred to as a gallabyia or baladi dress.
Sources: Shira.net, Al-Massraweya Folkloric Dance
Melaya Leff is a stylized dance inspired by the Alexandrian people of the port city in Egypt. The melaya was a popular clothing item in the 1930’s - 1960’s; it is a cloak, or piece of fabric that is wrapped (leff) around the body. This cheeky, playful, comedic dance is a social commentary of how the local men (usually fishermen) and women interact with one another.