Folklore Band of Abyan [Archives:2001/19/Culture]

May 7 2001

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Yemen Times
The governorate of Abyan is very rich in folklore works. These include a verity of dances, songs, etc. In my recent visit to Abyan I met with Mr.. Salem Al-Moaqed, Director of the Folklore Band of Abyan who elaborated the different activities of the band. “Many artistic works have not been given their due attention,” he said. In his speech about the Folklore Band of Abyan he said that it employed 20 members. It was established in 1980. The band performs more than 60 different dances and each dance has its own flavor. Most important among these dances are the following:
Al-Meehah Dance
This is one of the most popular dances in Abyan. It is also called ‘Al-Zaqwah’ or ‘Al-Kilfasah’ and is more common inside the women community, especially during the wedding nights as a way to express joys and happiness for the bride. The main musical tool accompanied this traditional dance is the drum or ‘Al-Mirwas’. Al-Meehah is not restricted to this area for it is also as mush popular as here in Shaqrah at the east of Zinjubar which is also famous for ‘Al-Dahif’ dance which depends on a heavy nomadic scale.
Al-Dahif Dance
It is an open public dance which is initiated by the tone of Abyan’s Dan as sung by a singer. The singer concludes his singing by a couple of verse then another singer or poet speaks another couple of verse in a way similar to the poetic contest. The dance is accompanied by the beating of two large drums placed in the middle of the dance ring. The dance begins with a couple of a man and a woman and then more couples are exchanged. As the dance ends, singers conclude it with the same tone of the Abyani tone. This dance is more popular in Shaqrah, Zinjubar, Al-Koud and Al-Musaimeer.
Nomadic Dance
This a dance performed by nomads in the rural areas and is usually accompanied by a drum and a pipe.
The same name is also their in Luhj but the style is different. In this dance an equal number of dancers from both sex, usually 6×6 or 8×8. The difference with Luji dancers is that a dancer emerges from the raw of dancers and turns around himself.
This is a religious type of dance that is believed to be brought be the Abyssinians. It is performed by a female dancer who with the beats of a drum starts performing emotional poses. As the dance continues the dancer abandons herself to a devilish movements in a hysterical manner.
The band participated in a many local as well as foreign occasions. In 1989 and 1995 it performed in Moscow, in 1992 and 1997 it took part in the Babylon Festival and in 1998 was among the participants in the Ismailiah Festival in Egypt. Tens of the band’s artistic works have been recorded by the Yemen Space Channel while still there are more then 80 works unrecorded. Thanks to Ahmad Obadi who has been preserving these works since his youth and who is considered the only reference to such works in the city. We hope that the authorities concerned will cooperate with him to record what remains before they are lost. Certainly, the band needs to:
– record their work and show them to the public,
– pay more attention to its members who has been working in the band for more tan 17 years without being officially employed, and
– unified uniforms for the different kinds of dances.