The Gilded Serpent

The Gilded Serpent presents...
Raks Assaya Instruction
at Najia's Studio

October 27, 2003

by Najia El-Mouzayen (Auntie Meece)

Demonstrated by Rawan El-Mouzayen
(Arab-American, age 3)

Before you pick up your cane, set the mood by using the Arabic finger snap as I am showing you here.á If your fingers are not strong enough to get a smart cracking or popping sound by this method, you can clap instead, or you might want to pretend you can do the finger snap if the music is loud enough to cover your lack of sound. Image is everything when you are on stage!

Pick up your cane and whirl it around overhead.á Keep it flat and even, and not too fast;
it does not have to match the beat or your foot movements.
Place your free hand firmly on your hip at first.á Najia calls this move "The Helicopter".
Pay attention to your posture because Raks Assaya needs a bit of an attitude at first.
Correct Grip
Try not to grasp the cane too low on its shaft; you need to have a firm grip on it.
This also assures that you will not accidentally lose it while you are twirling it by your side.á
Also, I would like to add my opinion here that it is tacky looking to balance it on your head
if you want to keep your dance authentically Arabic
Next, open up your body stance and your emotions! Without emotion, this dance is just another folkdance. Start whirling the cane at your side as you express joy and ease in dance with your free hand.
Even though it is customary to tap the cane on the floor at strategic moments in the music for accent, it is unwise to start it back like this and wham it on the floor.á Instead, try hovering it over the floor until the beat needs an accent then tap the crook lightly and firmly on the floor. I had to laugh when I saw an American dancer break off the head of her cane when she hit the floor with too much force.

Keep an Eye on It
Keep your eye on your cane and don't let it go wild.á Remember, where your eyes focus is where the eyes of your audience will go also.á Additionally, if you at least keep your cane in your peripheral vision, you will minimize the chance of hitting anything or anybody.

A dancer with a cane that is out of control is not a pretty sight and feels threatening to your audience.

Happy Dance
Above all, keep a happy demeanor and have a good time; cane tricks are fine but a pretty Bint 'l Baledi (country girl) and a lot of dallah (sweet na´vetÚ) are better when you are dancing an authentic Raks Assaya (Traditional Arabic Cane Dance).

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