Folk Dances in Lahj [Archives:1998/43/Culture]

October 26 1998

Popular Folk Dances: 
Before the emergence of the Lahaji song as a popular art form, famous tunes in Lahaj used to be in the form of well-known folk dances such as Al-Razha and Al-Henna. Many folk lyrics by outstanding Lahaji poets such as Fadhl Maater and Masroor Mabrook, were composed to be rhythmically in tune with these folk dances. The following is a view of the most famous and beautiful folk dances in Lahaj. 
This beautiful dance is usually performed by two men and two women dancing to rhythms of the traditional “Hajer” and “Mirwas” drums. During this dance, the two male dancers try to snatch any of the female dancers’ adornments, whether it is a necklace, shawl, etc. But their attempts are thwarted teasingly. 
One of the most popular songs, lyrics for which were composed to the rhythm of this folk dance, is “Laytani Ya Habibi” or (I wish I were with you, my lover). It was performed by Ahmed Yousif Al-Zabidi. 
This dance is performed during harvest time by two lines of men and women facing each other. They start the dance with slow, even rhythms accompanied by dancing and tapping on the ground by the right leg. The performers then advance towards each other and retreat backward, while the drummers circle around them. 
The most famous song composed according to this dance is “Wabo Zaid”, which has been recently sung by the famous Yemeni singer Ahmed Fat’hi. 
The traditional “Hajer and “Mirws” drums are used in this dance, which is performed by a man and a women with fast rhythms. The male dancer walks quickly around the female dancer and tries to snatch an item of her simple adornment. But she slips away from him. This dance is performed at weddings and harvest time. 
Two women, facing each other, start dancing to the tunes of the Hajer and Mirwas drums. They wear embroidered dresses and thick sliver anklets with small rattlers attached to make rhythmical sounds. This dance is usually performed at weddings. 
This beautiful dance expresses merriment among relatives and friends and is performed during wedding ceremonies after midnight. Some of the guests, together with the bridegroom, start the dance by forming a circle where every person holds the waist of the one next to him. The singer, drummers and a women holding a censer stand in the middle of the circle. They dance slowly to the rhythms of the Hajer and Mirwas till the morning. Then, the bridegroom is carried home in procession to the same rhythms. 
Saleh Abdulbaqi, 
Arts Editor