Moroccan Dance: Movement of the Spheres Act 1
June 10, 2017
On March 31, 2017 I hosted a spring celebration of dance performance at the beautiful Community Congregational Church of Tiburon accompanied by my student ensemble of “starlight dancers” Sunny, Loren, and Premila.
The program featured two suites of dance. The first one, inspired by my recent travels to Morocco, highlighted the beauty and embodied wisdom of women’s Moroccan dance.
The second act featured a creative multi-media movement montage inspired by the sacred traditions of Persian, Kurdish, and Turkish cultures.
Here are some program notes and photos from Act 1.
ACT 1: Moroccan Dance
Blessings of the Guedra
First stop on our journey, the desert sands of the Sahara, where the ancient blessing trance ritual called Guedra is part of community life among the Tuareg “Blue People”.
In this society it is the men who veil, for women’s intimate connection to the great mystery of life, absolves them from needing protection from troublesome jinn who invade the body through the mouth.
Women enjoy a great deal of freedom in Tuareg culture, and ancestral lineage is traced through the female line. Their ancestral founder, warrior Queen Tin Hinan speaks to a long history of women’s leadership in pre-Islamic North Africa.
During the Guedra blessing ceremony, the woman, or Guedra, enters the sacred circle of her community. She serves as channel to the spirit world, bringing in beneficial energy and sending blessings and healing through her hands out to her community.
Her face at first is covered, representing the darkness preceding spiritual knowledge. Seeking knowledge, she taps the fabric, and then like twinkling stars her hands emerge.
She acknowledges the unity of all, the 4 directions, heaven and earth, past and present. The rhythms and chants get faster as she falls into trance.
Blessings of the Chikhat
The shikhat are professional entertainers who perform for weddings and other family celebrations.
Through their provocative movements and loud singing, the audience is drawn up into the celebration.
The term chikhat is popularly defined as “women who don’t want men to tell them what to do”. They are autonomous and free of the social constraints of most Moroccan women. While occupying a subversive role in traditional Muslim society, the deeper intention of their performance is not just to entertain the guests.
As in other parts of the Arab world women dancing at weddings serves to bless the celebration with their fertility-inducing sexual potency. Above all, the dancer and the dance is a celebration of joy, abundance, and the creative life force.
Tea ceremony is an important aspect of everyday life in Morocco, and entertainers may dance with a tea platter on their head to show off their skills.
FREE GUIDED JOURNEY
For the past three years Hannah’s performance and teaching has been a highlight of my annual women’s weekend. She is a gifted, creative, expert dancer who engages and amazes the audience with her style and skill. It’s beautiful to watch her flow, bend, glide, and shimmy. Dancing with her is a blast! All my women friends loved it.
A week later and still relishing in the magical afterglow! Seriously, much to my surprise I am still reaping the benefits and riding the waves of such a weekend. Personally it was an end of an era, and what better way to initiate a new beginning, than to breathe in new life with ritual, spinning, baddass women, wonderful food, perfect location and gorgeous weather. Outstanding!
Hannah radiates an inner joy, a celebration of the divine, that glows and grows inside her audience. Dancing with Hannah, one is finds herself channeled into the timeless essence of feminine grace, connecting to all women past and present, freeing us to express our true innate beauty
I just spent two days with Hannah and a diverse group of spirited women on the Spin, Shake, Sway workshop exploring whirling and the Moroccan Guedra, and the experience made me reconnect with dancing at a very deep and intense level. I felt so alive and free in the space where your body and your soul intersect, and beauty and healing naturally happen. The location was magical and the perfect setting for our group.
Hannah loves transmitting her knowledge of world dance to kids and they feel it. She engages them in both the movements and the understanding of the traditions of the dances. The kids learn to appreciate the pure joy of moving, the history of the dances and choreographing their own pieces. It’s great to see the kids enjoying the discipline of the different traditions while having a lot of fun.
I first saw Hannah dance Persian style at a party and was immediately in awe of her self-possessed beauty that comes through her style of dance. I wanted to learn that! I had gone through a tough 18 months of sorrow and grief after loosing my partner of 15 years and mom within six months of each other. Hannah choreographed a Persian dance specifically for me that would help open my heart. And she helped mend my heart and soul through private lessons and learning her dance. I would recommend h…
The potency of sacred women’s spaces was made evident to me during this beautiful two day healing dance ritual. That experience of learning, of playing, and of connecting to our feminine power through community and the container held so humbly and graciously by Hannah will stay with me forever, and has become fuel for a new passion in my life to explore Sufi and Berber traditional, meditative dance. My deepest gratitude goes to all women of the dance, now, and throughout all of time.
Hannah’s workshop was exhilarating, joyful, and educational. I felt uplifted afterwards, and emerged with a positive feeling of lightness.