NORTH AFRICAN MAGHREB DANCES

The Maghreb (north Africa) has always been a crossroad of cultures, a gate between the west and the East, the North and the South - Where Africa meets the orient.

Maghrebi(north African) people are Arabo-Imazighan (Berber) people with various backgrounds, such as Amazigh, Arabic, African and Mediterranean elements.

In Maghrebi countries music and dance are associated partly with Middle Eastern culture (Arabic and Turkish) as well as Arabo-Andalusian elements of Medieval Spain, and partly with Amazigh and African elements.

The musical content was transmitted from the Baghdad of the Abbasid Dynasty and its Golden Age to the surviving Umayyad Emirate in Cordova with which the musical scholar Ziryab identified.

The aspects of the development of the dance focus on various specific Maghrebi communities: Firstly among Imazighan people of the mountains such as the Djurdjura, the Ahaggar, the Aures and the region of the M'zab in Algeria, the Rif and the Atlas and the Sousse regions in Morokko and some regions in Tunisia such as Djerba, Matmata and others as well as regions in Libyia and Mauritania including the Oasis in the South of the Maghreb, and lastly in Northern cities where highly sophisticated music and Andalusian dances are to find. Spiritual dances with a strong self-healing content do exist every Maghreb regions.

The dance is both a public and a personal expression, rich in symbolic dimensions that deal with universal constants in nature, fertility of Mother Earth and the communication between the Earthy and the Divine. In Amazigh regions women's singing accompanies any kind of work, such as the Harvest. Festivals provide the opportunity to see dances as a Unity. Traditional Amazigh dances are mostly ritual dances. Originally they were a magical act, in order to obtain the fertility of Mother Earth or to ask for the rain in case of the drought. The worshiping of a Divinity or a spirit of Nature was used in order to gain its protection.

 

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