Iraqi dance - dances of Arab States of Persian Gulf - part II

 by Isis Zahara 2013

special thanks to Dalia AlChamary

Maleeyen - the best Iraqi dancer

Is called Iraq an unique style of dance based in special footwork, shimmies and hair tossing. I admit myself as a big lover of this style because it gives  a true freedom's feeling.
The Republic of Iraq was called Mesopotamia by the Greeks, and appears constantly in the Ancient history as the Babilonians Empire.  The country borders Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,Jordan and Syria consequently the culture of these countries had influenced the  own culture of Iraq specially in the dance.
The Iraq Music
(Main article: Music of Iraq Wikipedia)
Iraq is known primarily for its rich maqam heritage which has been passed down orally by the masters of the maqam in an unbroken chain of transmission leading up to the present.
The maqam al-Iraqi is considered to be the most noble and perfect form of maqam. Al-maqam al-Iraqi is the collection of sung poems written either in one of the sixteen meters of classical Arabic or in Iraqi dialect (Zuhayri).This form of art is recognized by UNESCO as “an intangible heritage of humanity”.

Early in the 20th century, many of the most prominent musicians in Iraq were Jewish.

In 1936, Iraq Radio was established with an ensemble made up entirely of Jews, with the exception of the percussion player.


At the nightclubs of Baghdad, ensembles consisted of oud, qanun and two percussionists, while the same format with a ney and cello were used on the radio.

The most famous singer of the 1930s–1940s was perhaps the Jew Salima Pasha (later Salima Murad). The respect and adoration for Pasha were unusual at the time, since public performance by women was considered shameful and most female singers were recruited from borthels.
Salima Pasha Murad
The most famous early composer from Iraq was Ezra Aharon, an oud player, while the most prominent instrumentalist was Daoud Al-Kuwaiti. Daoud and his brother Saleh formed the official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station and were responsible for introducing the cello and ney into the traditional ensemble.

 Iraqi dance
 The Iraqi dance style is called Kawleeya and had being influenced by the gulf khaliji dances, including the hair tossing which is done much faster and has exuberant swing between the moves. The dance is based on the Romany culture, as the word Kawleeya means "Roman" in Arabic.
 The Hip movements focus more on backward motions often emphasizing to the posterior, including a lot of shimmies and small hops. Drops and floor work  are very common during the dance.
In this style the dancer can use one or two little knives as a prop:
"This is meant to be playful as in "If you don't want me, I'll kill myself" and may play into the sense of martyrdom, pain, and suffering common in Shi'ite Islam where pain
and loss is expressed through matam(beating oneself, often with a sword or knife).
 This is a fast fast paced high energy dance that has a lot of bouncing.
 Another prominent feature is the arms which they rhythmically point and toss from side to side sometimes almost pumping them up and down or back and forth."
The following video is from Malayeen, she is considered one of the best Iraq dancers:


The Iraqi Rhythm

The Iraq  Musical Instruments



The following video is an old style Iraq dance, it's possible do listen besides the khishba also the chumpara a kind of finger cymbals and daff.


The Costume
Normally is a long colourfull dress with details around the hips. The Russian dancers adopted a beautiful lycra dress that can show enough hip movements and its a trend now between belly dancers.
The  Dark side of the Dance

This dance style is closely associated with prostitution in the Middle East.
It's very important to study this connection before start to dance as a professional. If you dance in parties with your friends or in a competition of belly dance events it can be understanying as an art. Be careful to do it professionally in restaurants or night clubs without knowing about the history behind.


really glories information about Iraqi dance dances of Arab States of Persian Gulf. so much appreciate to follow this article.

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