All For Assayah Sets

Resident Archivist shares a memory…
“I can remember being a teenager, just old enough to hang out with my friends and watch bellydancers on television. We would go to my friends’ houses in our big immigrant and international community for tapas and snacks while staring at a cocktail of raissat until dark. It was really cool to watch the dancers spin the cane, leaning back with their hair sweeping the stage. They’d swing back up to a hail of praise and zaghareets.

One of my friends was 18 and had just gotten engaged. I couldn’t wait for her wedding. We must have practiced for hours because I would wake up sore some mornings. Her sisters and I rehearsed what we were going to do at the henna party for months. I decided I’d mimic Samara’s, a famous dancer at the time from Syria, cane routine. Years later I find myself using the cane in performance at events with my friends. Each time I’m brought back to those moments and channel those living room impromptu haflas where my joy and obesession for this dance flourished.” -MBD Archivist


Assayahs are the female version of the tahtib. It is a fascinating show when ‘the cane’ comes out. Colourful and sleek, sometimes a strong wooden stick, these are more than props, they are piece of history. Learn more about the assayah and Saidi dances from workshops with those like Karim Nagi Mohammed and Mohammed Shahin.

Thanks for reading!
-Team MBD

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