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Saudi Dance, Hair in Motion

The Saudi Movement

The concept of movement never crossed my mind before. I quickly thought of writing about something I had always wondered about, but never found the time or reliable sources to research it scientifically. As usual, resorting to my artistic perspective or theoretical framework to deduce the origins of things and the need for them, by asking why? And how? These questions lead me to answers that are analyzed... Is this analysis logical or not?

Saudi dance was the first thing that came to mind, especially women's dance represented by the hair-tossing movement. It is a very strange, beautiful, and inspiring movement. What is its source? For years, I thought about the movements of this dance. It embodies elegance, lightness, modesty, joy, coquetry, and jubilation. So how did this equation come about?


2024 was the year of performance production and interest in Saudi performing arts, traditional or modern. In my opinion, it began to crystallize, represented by the first Saudi opera (Zarqa Al-Yamamah). Strange are the coincidences associated with dance and performance this year in inspiring ideas. It started for me with fashion designer Reem AlKanhal, her new collection was inspired by the men's Ardah dance. At the same time, one of the artists-in-residence in JAX, her artwork is performance costumes inspired by Ardah as well, furthermore at the art curation course I took at Misk Art Institute, for the final project of curating an art exhibition. Without exception and by coincidence, all four groups gave an idea related to Saudi dances, whether as a general idea or one of the participating works! In our group, it was the Samri dance by Saudi artist Dia AlHilali.


But what is the result and goal of all the above? I thought of expanding the meaning of movement beyond the scope of dance, to include movement in sports as well. As the old saying goes, "Movement is a blessing." Experts also advise that if we feel bored or depressed, we should start doing something, like cleaning or walking, to feel a sense of accomplishment.


Beside me in Misnad space in JAX district (literally next door) was an exhibition called (Haraka "Movement"!!!) by artists Khalid Afif, Rashed Alshashai and Muath Alaoufi, aims to highlight that art is dynamic and moving. This word opened my mind to the uses of the word movement. I remembered intellectual movements, political movements, and linguistic movements!


In language, diacritics give words their meaning. This led me to a second point for research: movements clarify meanings. Hand movements in speech clarify the intention, body movements express, and dance is a form of expressive and performative movement. From this logic, it is known that the movements of the Saudi Ardah are a representation of battles, especially since the sword is present in it. From this logic, I also believe that the women's dance mentioned above is a movement expression of the daily movements of Saudi women in the past. If we imagine the form of a Saudi woman in the past or today, she is perfuming her long black hair with oud, she would gather her hair on the right side, holding the incense burner in her right hand and using her left hand to protect the hair from burning and to separate the strands to let the thick locks absorb the fragrance. Since both hands are occupied, the only solution to perfume the left side of the head is a quick toss to the other side! And Voilà! The movement was formed!


We may talk in other articles in detail about various gestures. However, I believe that the current cultural movement exploding in the Kingdom may also generate artistic, social, or intellectual movements that could be called the Saudi movement, which will undoubtedly have prominent, distinctive, and clear features, adding to the global heritage. After all, as we said, moving is a blessing...



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