Let’s Talk About Style, Baby! “Muwashahat…Muwasha What?!”


I came across the style of Muwashahat quite by chance only a few months ago. It’s rare that I find a form of dance in the bellydance spectrum I haven’t at least heard of before,so I was immediately intrigued and set out to do some research. There isn’t much as this is a tiny branch of dance, as well as a relatively new one.

Stylistically speaking this can best be described as the Arabic form of ballet. It’s bellydance roots can definitely be seen, but it is a very flowing, graceful style and utilizes a lot of arm and leg movement with very little torso.

According to both Karim Nagi and Mohammed Shahin, considered by many to be experts in the form it was developed in 1979 by Mahmoud Reda. Muwashahat strays from moves such as shimmies and head tosses in favor of “Light, flowing moves, graceful weight shifts, and restrained undulations.”- Thalia in an article reviewing a Muwashahat workshop with Karim and Mohammed.

The musical genre of Muwashahat originated in Muslim Spain during the tenth century. Muwashah was a poetic form that included music and vocalization. The poetry appears to convey ecstatic devotion and love to either a person or a religion. Today, the classical form of the Muwashahat remains popular in Morrocco, Tunis and Algiers as well as in Syria, and Lebanaon.

Muwahashahat Raqisah is a suite of dances choreographed by Mahmoud Reda and presented by Farida Fahmy and a group of dancers from the Reda troupe in a made for TV (Egyptian) production by Ali Reda. There was no point of reference for choreographing Muwashahat, but Reda adhered to the aesthetic, temperaments and cultural norms of the Middle East, specifically the Egyptians.

This is one of the few instances where a Middle Eastern dance show has been this significantly staged, especially to the point of creating a new style. While Fat Chance Bellydance, Suhaila’s Dance Company and The Bellydance Superstars have all created and staged new shows and new aesthetics have been born in some instances, none have created a new genre in the way Muwashahat Raqisah did. Unfortunately it is not a widely known style.

An example of the costumes of Muwashahat. The aesthetic pulls strongly from that of Andalusian dance.

An video clip of Muwashahat.

Further reading can be found on Farida Fahmy’s website at http://www.faridafahmy.com/ as well as the entire review by Thalia at http://egyptianacademy.com/jml2/karim-nagi and there is an instructional DVD by Mohammed Shahin called Shoubeki Loubeki that can be purchased at http://www.mohamedshahin.net/cd_dvd.htmlSmiles and Shimmies! 🙂 E


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