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  • Lisa Lumina

Level One: Undulations Unit, Class 5


For the last class of each unit, we cover a different music genre. Today, it's a two-for! Egyptian Shaabi and Marhagan. Shaabi is losely translated as music of the country (nation, not countryside) and the Egyptian flavor really took off with Ahmed Adeweya and the invention of the cassette tape. No longer were Egyptians (especially cabbies) stuck listening to state-censored radio, cassettes could be copied and shared music that spoke to people's struggles was accessible.

Following the Arab Spring, and the invention of auto-tune, marhagan music skyrocketed in popularity. This music is socially equivalent to rap in the US, and has been musically influenced by it. Marhagan means festival, and topics covered in songs can range from parties and love, to drugs, politics, and poverty. Always know what the song is about (including any innuendos) before deciding to perform to it! That goes for any song, but especially for marhagan!


Regional Highlight This unit, we're focusing on Anatolia and Iran. These regional highlights are meant to give a general orientation, and really only scratch the surface of the diversity of arts in the MENAHT/SWANA area (Middle East, North Africa, Helene, & Turkey/SouthWest Asia & North Africa).

Iran is a diverse country. Dancers in the US such at Katayoun are better qualified to tell its story, but the diaspora often employs bellydancers, and the court dances that were popular before religious laws forbid dancing are graceful and wonderful to see.

One of the ethnic groups in Iran are the Kurds, I have Kurdish friends who live in Canada since their families left Syria for their safety. You can see a Kurdish line dance below.



Katayoun does the gentle Persian court dance style here. (psst, she has a book!)

One sort of Kurdish line dance. I like how this clip shows the older men in more traditional clothes, and the young guys in modern fashions.

Here, Souheir Zaki and Ahmed Adeweya perform together. Judging by his outfit, this is the 1970s.

Men don't often bellydance professionally, but do commonly dance in folk dance troupes, spiritual dance groups, as well as socially, as in this clip, where they are dancing to margahan music.

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