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  • Lisa Lumina

Level Two: 1.8 Mawaal, Review, and Saidi Cane

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Class Review

When working on mapping out a song's verses/section, what I like to call paragraphs, there are some common pattens they can take. You can find examples of these listen in the "Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers" book and CD set I keep bringing up in class.

The forms we'll talk about this week are: Strophic, ABA, AABB, AABA, and Rondo. We use the A, B, C, etc to label sections just like labeling sections of a poem from English class. So a song in ABA means that one melody is played, another melody is played, and then the first melody is played again. Stropic form means a single melody repeats. This is common for certain folk songs. Rondo form is when a song has a refrain separated by various other verses, so it could be written as ABACADAE, etc. I prefer to give sections descriptive names, more on that during week 10.


Instrument of the Week

The mawaal is the vocal version of a takseem. It can mean doing vocal runs around lyrics, or just improvising singing on an abstract phrase like "ya leyl, ya ainy". It can be found in formal or folk music. The clip of Adeweya his mawaal starts at about 2 minutes in.

Take a bit of time to review all of the instruments we've covered this semester. See if you can pick them out of your favorite songs, and bring any questions you have to class next week.


Prop of the Week

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, notice the trio of mizmar players

The Reda Troupe's Saidi number


Now, the saidi style cane in bellydance shows:

Mona Said, doing a feminine cane dance

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.


Song of the Week

Kariet el Fingan, a classic song, the title means "the fortune teller". Here is the Lyric Translation.

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