Is it El Kawliya, Qawilya or Kawleeya

El Kawliya, Qawilya or Kawleeya?

Hell, I’m not even sure how to pronounce it yet! One thing I know is that I have had so much fun learning about this dance.  Reading about it, watching YouTube videos, trying to disseminate it in my body.  So you who know me, I’m not a writer.  I made my apology about my amateurish attempts at writing from the get go, when I started this.  But I do love to study dance and I am a note taker. I’ve got notebooks from 30+yrs ago, that I still refer to.  Now, I’m putting it here for myself and you if you want it.
So, first things first.  This dance is not new.  It has been around for longer than I have danced 30++. When I started dancing, most of us didn’t know where Iraq was on the map, never mind know about this dance.  It wasn’t in the news, until the last decade or so.. There were no writings about it or YouTube videos.
The first dancer I saw do this Malayeen. I loved the wild music and hair flipping, but didn’t get it. in 2010 I was seeing Yana  adored her and the dresses she wore with this new style of dance I was learning.
In 2012, I watched her dance live in Eliat, Israel. Amazing!  Too bad the music has been muted in the link. Read a little about it in Amina’s blog and I referenced it here.  Then 2 years ago, found this video. All this time mind you, there were lots of Russian and Ukrainian dancers emulating Yana, that were a delight to see. Last year, I read about an Iraqi woman residing in London, Assala Ibrahim who is the expert and compiled this awesome, fricking video, if you missed the 1st time I linked to it.  Told you I was amateurish! Of course there is this woman, I think of her as an Arab Lady Gaga.  She’s amazing, a chameleon.  Singer, dancer extraordinaire. I don’t know if Lady Gaga is all that ( I don’t know her work, because I’m too busy studying Kawleeya! but I do know about her meat dress). Myriam Fares, this video has been around a few years, and I still adore it and her, she is all kinds of  inspiring to me. FYI, a few Arabs I know,  well everyone over 40, hates her!
Of course there has been an immense amount of coverage of Iraq in recent times as shown in these posts from NYTimes.
Last summer GildedSerpent published Amani Jabril’s observations.
OK girls and boys, homework is over.  Except, I’m so excited to have Sabrina of San Diego come and teach us Kawleeya next month. She is the West Coast expert She is a multi awarded dancer who I consider  the West Coast expert and actually has taught this Iraqi folk dance in Egypt!  How exciting is that.  We’re so lucky.  You students are so lucky I just shared all my notes with you too!

Kawleeya with Sabrina

Kawleeya with Sabrina

Saudi Dance Khaleegy Resources and Refernces

I first was first exposed to this dance in the nightclubs. Yes, the clubs I performed at. I learned how to do it by watching the men initially, as there was a large Saudi population in SF Bay area in the early 80’s. Later in the 90’s after the Gulf War had the Saudi’s leaving America, I would see many  Yemenis in the clubs, again primarily men. So, in that decade of observing the men dance, I was also able to study and observe dancers a generation before me who had integrated the dance into their oriental routines or as part of their folkloric section. I was seeing an authentic acknowledgment of the rhythm in the majenci…yes some majencis have a saudi section…Set elHosen, Marhajen (depending on who was in the audience) it was either played as an ayoob or a khaleegy. During this time computers became common….can you imagine not having one today!! And I was able to view the traditional dances on-line. I also have had the fortune to study with some great instructors who have lived over there and disseminated the dance for me.
Recently, I worked with a musician who complimented me on my “authentic” Saudi dance during my show…. Ooookaaay, I’m thinking……LOL……time to revisit it, refine in the studio for my dancer friends. I’ve really been in love with some of the Iraqi dances I’ve seen online: but they are performed by non natives and I as much as enjoy them, they are not traditional or authentic. (of note, Iraq is not considered a gulf state, even though it has a coast line, I believe this delineation was made by the oil industry)…
Here’s a little cheat sheet for you dear students , with some well-respected resources.

First check out a map of the region on a map!! These dances are from the gulf region of the Middle East, and each country has something a bit different to say about this dance…
Shira.Net….I tell you this is one of the best resources…. Do a search for Saudi Dance and Khaleegy…you will get song samples, talk about the thobe etc.

Please check out Kay Hardy Campbell at is a well-respected Middle East specialist, whose work I admire greatly, and you should take advantage of her offerings. Wonderful clips of Saudi dance!
A must read is Amina Goodyear’s Blog describing Hussein’s understanding of Qawliya …very insightful!

Check out Yana Tsehotskaya on YouTube…lovely Ukrainian dancer I met last year, who does an amazing version of Khaleegy and Iraqi…adapted for stage.

Happy Dancing!