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  • Lisa Lumina

About Props: Saidi Cane

Some more info on cane (assaya) this week: it's use in Saidi Style. This is the style most bellydancers associate with cane, but again, it is not the only one. In this context, cane dance comes from an ancient (Pharaonic era) martial art known as Tahteeb. Tahteeb is now done in a sporting way, with strict rules to the contest and if a player gets angry or violent they are removed from the game, since it can be very dangerous if the players are not in control. From this cultural root, Saidi style cane dancing gets its distinct flavor. Also referenced in Saidi style is the horse dancing that is popular. And I think it's important to note that the horses are highly prized.

​Mahmoud Reda's Troupe researched the dances of different regions of Egypt and created stage versions that were heavily influenced by his love of Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers' films, and were made to create a good stage show. That is, to present something the people could feel proud to see themselves as, and in many cases in a way that protected the privacy of the people who let them into their homes to learn their dances. The women's Saidi style in the choreographies is fairly different from how Saidi women would dance in their homes, but the men's style is so accurate that people could tell who his teacher was. This is something we'll talk more about in the folklore thread.

Bellydancers (especially Cairo based ones) perform with cane in reference to the Said, but it will have their own artistic interpretation based on their tastes and what will appeal to their (Cairo) audiences. In this context, bellydancers (including women) might be more or less removed from the folklore, and have a more flirty feminine attitude or a sort of gender bending (performers can get away with it) masculine attitude. (Gender in Middle Eastern dance is a WHOLE other topic!) Some bellydancers will hire folkloric dancers to perform in their shows, I think this trend was started by Naguwa Fuoad, but there are also tableaus from the golden era that included chorus dancers references folklore.

In the Said, it is a tool and a weapon, and something one dances with out of joy. As a prop outside the region, it can be a way to show off and is a favorite for bellydance audiences.

A tahteeb match

Horse dancing, popular in the Said, and often referenced in human dancers' movements.

The Reda Toupe's tableau


Now, the saidi style cane in bellydance shows:

Mona Said, doing a feminine cane dance. This will play if you open it in youtube.

Lucy, with folkloric dancers flanking her

A Russian group, doing a theatrical piece on pop music


Modern style is more forceful

a fun duet

Men can use it to show off.

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