I’ve had quite a few requests for style and prop tutorials, and what better way to kicking these off than Saidi. If you’re a seasoned dancer then this is probably not for you. But if you’re new to this style, maybe never quite got it under your skin or if you’re a teacher, then read on for some background and a video breaking down the key basics and some suggestions for styling as well as combinations.
The Saidi is probably the best known and most loved folkloric style of Egyptian Belly Dance. Originating in Upper Egypt as a male martial arts dance, it’s been adapted in many different ways to suit the contemporary Belly Dance scene.
The Saidi rhythm is in my experience the most recognised Egyptian rhythm (D-T_D-D_T-) and often used in modern Egyptian pop music too. It also tends to have a distinctive high pitched Mizmar (single reed flute) and the string scraping of the Rebab (a primitive violin), as well as its signature hopping 4/4 rhythm with a heavy down beat.
The Saidi dance can be done with or without the Saidi stick (tahtib), which in the traditional version is used by men to fight one another, but at it’s core are some key steps that capture the catchy rhythm. The male Saidi dance contains lots of jumps and drama, whilst the female version often is lighter and performed on the spot, or with very little travelling steps, and an emphasis on the hips and elegant jumps. Despite it being a casual looking dance, there is great precision in foot, hand and also cane placement. See my video on basic cane control here.
The basic Saidi steps include the ‘horse’, ‘jump’ and ‘forwards and back lean’, which can all be performed with various stylisation depending on the setting of the dance and, of course, the feel of the music. I’ve therefore created a short video exploring just that, as well as how these Saidi basics can be combined.
I hope this video will help you, either in your own dancing or your teaching. Please feel free to leave me a comment below, so I know how you’re getting on, or if you’d like to share your own experiences of learning or teaching Saidi at a basic level.
Let’s keep the knowledge sharing going, and encourage beautiful dancing.
Always happy dancing 🙂
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