This week, it's time to talk about "s" words-- I mean, swords. While there are Middle Eastern dance traditions that use a sword, they are not used the way bellydancers use them. The balancing and posing method of dancing with swords in firmly a fantasy element, although it may have been inspired by real traditions, it is pretty removed from them. Dancers saw orientalist paintings of dance with sword and my understanding is that West Coast dancers learned jug dances from Tunisian patrons in the 60s/70s and then used that concept to dance with a sword (my source here is the DVD "American Bellydance Legends"). Here's some advice from Princess Farhana about picking out a sword.
A first generation Am Cab dancer using it in her set
A second generation Am Cab Dancer continuing the tradition.
A Brazilian dancer, sword props have spread all over. One note, is to never grab the "sharp" edge of the blade.
Tava uses funky music for this sword piece
Mariyah, doing a theatrical number
West Coast dancers of the Salimpour School, continuing to innovate with sword
As far as women dancing with blades in Arabic venues:
Giselle was a Latin American dancer who had a career in Lebanon.
Sword is popular in fusion dance
This style grew out of Westcoast experiments.
Dancers continue to find new and amazing ways to use swords,
and sword innovations can pay homage to the circus roots of many early American dancers.
Here's a small sample of traditional ways of dancing with a sword. You'll notice these are almost all men.
Yasmina performs a sword dance inspired by Gulf style dances.
Lebanese entertainers evoke a Bedouin style.
A Saudi dance with swords is well known.
The Beja live between Egypt's Eastern Desert and Sudan
Well, they're ALMOST all men! Here is Assala Ibrahim performing an Iraqi daggar dance.
Iraqi Kawleya is something we'll have more reading about in another post.