Moroccan Dance, Guedra & Schikhat
Morocco is a country with diverse folklore, customs and traditions. Of the many tribal and folklore expressions, one of the most unusual is the ancient dance known as the Guedra. It is a ritual performed to trance music. Its origins are speculative.
The Guedra is associated with the village of Goulimine, in the southwest desert area of Morocco. The nomads there are known as the Blue People of the Tuareg Berber. They are so called because they wear distinctive robes of a very deep blue color, and the dye impregnates their skin, making them appear blue!
The Guedra takes its name from the drum played to keep its rhythms. The word guedra means, "pot" in Arabic. The drum is made of a common kitchen pot with goatskin stretched over the top. This drum is a hybrid of the percussive drums used in Africa and the Near East. No other instrument is played. The dance is performed to the beat of one drum and the chanting and hand clapping of onlookers. The rhythm is an unornamented 6, steady and hypnotic.
The purpose of the ritual is to serve as a blessing for friends or married people or to the community, or to submit the self to God. This is very unlike the placating of spirits or exorcism found in the Zar dance. Some say the Guedra has the power to attract a mate from miles away, drawn by the mystical rhythm of the drum. The character of the dance is quite esoteric. It starts with the woman looking like a shapeless black mass, representing the night, chaos, lake of understanding or cosmic energy. The mass moves to the rhythm, becoming turbulent, representing the exaltation of an organized universe. The hand movements speak of passion, drama, beauty, joy and sorrow, a full gamut of emotion. Then a sudden silence restores the energy to its pre-creation void.
Usually one woman dances, surrounded by a circle of people. The dancer is on her knees with a black veil, called a haik, covering her completely. Her hands emerge from this black "night". In the firelight, her fingers and hands move, flicking, tapping, vibrating, sending out energy. The movements are done with purpose, to the four directions, to the elements (heaven, earth, wind and water), and to represent time (past, present and future). The index finger is separate from the other fingers, as it is believed the essence of one"s soul emanates this finger.
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