Thursday, April 2, 2020

What is a Zeffah?

You may have heard the name, or perhaps even seen a recreation at a folkloric or cultural event, but what is a zeffah?

While there are multiple kinds of zeffahs, but the one most commonly referred to is the zeffat al 'Arush, or wedding procession of the bride. It is a tradition in Egypt dating back many years, in which a wedding party is escorted though the streets by a musical procession of drummers, bagpipes, horns and other instruments. Sometimes even car horns! In more recent years, the procession frequently happens indoors, such as through a hotel. To mark the occasion, a traditional rhythm, the iqa zeffah, is normally played.

And guess who commonly leads the procession? You guessed it - a belly dancer! Traditionally, the belly dancer wears a shamadan, or candelabra, balanced on her head, and dances ahead of the bride and groom while playing the sagat, or finger cymbals. Some theories surmise that the inclusion of the belly dancer was to provoke the transformation of the bride from a virgin girl or woman to a mature wife.

Let's take a look at some different examples of zeffahs, some with and some without dancers.

Want to learn more about this Egyptian tradition? You can click here to get expert dance ethnologist, Sahra C. Kent's, free zeffat al 'Arusha ebook.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Yucatan Adventures

I just had the wonderful experience of spending the last two weeks traveling around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, visiting the cities of Cancun, Tulum, Merida, and Playa del Carmen. I climbed Mayan pyramids, swam with turtles in cenotes, watched folkloric dance, ate the best street tacos of my life, snorkeled with giant manta rays, checked Chichen Itza off my bucket list, danced salsa to live music, and even ate crickets. That was definitely a first! Here's a few fun highlights from my recent adventures.

 Now to get caught up on dance practice....