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Egyptian Folklore: Saidi and Nubian Dance

Join Erika Ochoa, Middle Eastern Dance faculty, for this deep dive introduction into Egyptian Folkloric Dances! All levels welcome.


There are actually a wide variety of Nubian dances; previously the Nubian peoples were of different groups in many different villages scattered along the length of the Nile in both southern Egypt and the Sudan. Some of the dances are from the Kensi people, some from Fadiki and some from groups who identify with Arab (Khaliji) immigrants.

The basic step most groups have in common is the right foot in front stepping down on the beat, the ball of the left foot in back stepping on the “and.” The arms move symmetrically together either forward and back or side and towards center. Men lean forward from the hips, women stand straight. Neither men nor women use hip-work, both can tilt their shoulders, women can also do upper torso lifts or drops.


Sa’idi is probably the most well known “folklore” dance of Egypt.The most popular public dance of the Sa’id is Raqs Assaya (stick dance), whether the Assaya was twirled or held. The Saidi dance is from Upper Egypt, between Gizeh and Edfu.The Saidi people are upper Egyptian farmers. Usually a Saidi dance is lively, energetic and earthy. The dancer uses one or two sticks, originally made of bamboo.

There are two types of Saidi stick dance: Raks Assaya and Tahtib. The word Tahtib means dancing with sticks and it is originally a kind of conflict with sticks between men to show their power. Tahtib is the oldest form of Egyptian martial arts to have survived. Tahtib dancing is a product of Egyptian martial arts from the pharaonic times. The Pharaohs painted this kind of dance on the walls of their temples and their soldiers learned it.

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