Cane Choreography

Sakti w/Sayed Balaha, Hanover Germany

The Saiidi Cane Dance originated as a peasant dance. Supposedly, the field workers, while on break, would pluck a reed from the banks of the Nile and begin dancing with it. Another thought is that the cane dance is a women's dance, and originated by watching the men dance. The men would use sticks to fight in wars. The women would do victory dances with the men, and copy the men when the men went off to war by using canes.

Tahtib is the men's stick dance that evolved out of a display of skill in combat with a bamboo staff. Strongly rooted in the lifestyle of the fellaheen (rural or village people) the tahtib is recognized in the Arab world as Egyptian in origin, very similar to the martial art of Akido.

Theatricalized presentations involve a mock battle as the protagonists dance, saiidi style, holding the stick in one or both hands swinging it around above their heads striking it on the ground or against each other's staff in choreographed movements.

The dance I perform is the female version of the tahtib, which comes from the Arabic word for stick or staff, even though the dance is usually done with the cane instead of the staff. Raks Assaya, the female version, is coy and flirtatious. The movements have been softened and stylized while still retaining an air of exhibitionism. According to researchers Raks Assaya is the epitome of female charm and one of the most popular dances in Middle Eastern entertainment. It is a common occurrence at weddings, circumcisions, births, and in the floor shows of Oriental dancers.


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