Folklore Dance in Syria
in modern societies had robbed many traditions
and things that characterized life in the
past. Now every thing is moving swiftly and
hastily. Even folklore dance had lost its
characteristics, originality and distinctive
movements, and joined modernism which deformed
every beautiful and original thing in our
artistic, cultural and social life. Until a
short time, most of the peoples of the world,
used to express sorrow or anguish, joy or
happiness in dances and rhythms spontaneously
composed for several occasions and by
different groups of people .
and noisy rhythms now overwhelm the world and
reflect states of boredom, restlessness and
hopelessness. Just until recently, people, in
dancing used to beat the ground hard with
their feet to express their strength and
vivacity, and their relation with earth and
farming to symbolize fertility and prosperity,
and to celebrate the coming of spring with its
many feasts : the Fourth Of
April, Flowers Day, Epiphany, Persian New
Year's Day , the Day Of God Baal Ascension
From The Ground, And St. George's Day.
Folklore dance in Syria was influenced by many
factors mainly, nature, the type of labore
(mostly agricultural), and social habits. For
example in the coastal mountains, dance used
to be performed collectively and in quick
steps. In Aleppo and Idlib dance was
quieter, and less vivacious. In the Syrian
Jazeera, (the eastern region) dance was
inherited from the old Arab bedouin traditions
like "al Dahha” dance.
Folklore dance in Syria was not merely a Dabka (beating the ground with feet in regular steps), but rather it was accompanied by rhythmic movements with men carrying swords or canes. Some kinds of dance were expressionist, while others were social or valorous.
Historian and traveler "al Masoudi” wrote in his book "Morouj al Thahab” (Meadows of Gold) that the Abbasid Caliph "al Mu'tamad” asked some people in his court to describe dancing, types of dances and the characters and features the dancer should have. They said: "Peoples and nations usually have different ways of dancing. In general there are eight kinds of rhythms for dancing: the slow, the quick, the swift, the strong, the slow strong, the quick strong and the strong swift I and the very strong... .The dancer should have certain characteristics in his, appearance , personality and in his performance.
of his appearance he should have an attractive
look, a slim body, a thin waist, a long neck,
long whiskers, small feet and smooth flexible
fingers and joints that help him bend easily
and turn for a long time. He also should have
long breath and should always dress elegantly.
As of his personality he should be quick
minded, good mannered, intelligent, well aware
of the kinds of dance and the rules of every
kind. As of his performance he should be
humorous, punctual, stable in movement, and
able to perform hard movements while being
stable, and should rotate and move his feet
and hands in full harmony with music.
Syria has known, through its long history, most of the kinds of folklore dances, but unfortunately those who wrote about folklore dance couldn't write in details about this art. "The Heritage of Dabka" a book written by the late writer "Adnan Bin Zurail” is considered one of the most important refernces about the art of dance. Bin Zurail gives detailed information about the traditions and development of Dabka. He also shows special interest in the dance of "Samah “ as one of the old inherited kinds of body expressions, very popular in all the Syrian regions. Samah was taught as a respectable and bashful kind of dance , with deep rules, special wording of songs and ballads, tunes and rhythms.
present generation of dancers of Aleppo,
learnt the Samah from Omar alBatsh, Abdulwahab
Seifi, Saleh alBoshi, Adnan Mnini, Omar Aqqad
and others. It has been said that men in
Aleppo used to dance this kind of group dance
and still do so until now. They attributed it
to Sheikh Aqil of Munboj, one of the Sufis who
inherited it from the ancestors and developed
it, devising new movements of feet, which the
dancer, whether male or female, should
follow and sing while moving his /her hands.
Sheikh Aqil used to call his followers who
used to dance Samah "sons of art “A
"son of art" should usually learn
many tunes so that he can join the group any
time, any where, and follow their steps
the most famous dances in Syria is the Dabka,
a dance of several light coordinated steps
with movements of the body that express
vivacity of the males and tenderness of the
females, accompanied by frequent organized
Songs played with the Dabka are usually simple in words and rhythms so that they are understood easily every where, although each type expresses the traditions, the customs and even the dialect of the region where it was started.