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The art of sword dance – Raqs al Sayf

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It is believed the art of sword dance performed by females evolved out of sword fighting between men in Egypt and Turkey. Most belly dancers perform with an Arabic sword (a curved blade) that is balanced on the edge of the ‘blade’. Sword dancing is a very popular art among belly dance performers as it displays a tremendous amount of focus, balance and poise. Audiences love the dramatic nature and intense power, strength and control of this art form.

I attended the ‘Scintillating Single and Double Sword Technique’ Workshop hosted by Dancing Divinity by Chrystal Coetsee on Saturday. I was amongst a small intimate group of dancers.The workshops were very professionally presented and was nicely structured into 3 sessions with much needed warm up and cool down stretching sessions. The first session focused on sword frames, movements and balancing combinations with a single sword.

Belly dancing sword

Framing is when a dancer uses the sword in the dance to ‘frame’ a particular part of the body. This is used to highlight certain body movements that the dancer wants the audience to pay attention to or to create a dramatic contrast between two areas. For example, when the sword is held across the face and ‘frames’ the eyes, the unmoving mysticism of the eyes is juxtaposed to the undulations of the lower body.

The next session focussed on using double sword. This was particularly intense as the amount of balance and control needed to successfully yield both swords (without taking out an eye) proved particularly challenging.

The final session focussed on floor work. The art of moving across the floor while putting into practice the sword balancing techniques and more conventional belly dancing moves.

I very quickly realised that to master the art of sword dancing requires flexibility, patience, core and upper leg strength. The combinations that one can do with a sword are endless – provided you have enough space.

I learnt a tremendous amount of new and exciting combinations that I will definitely add to my current sword balancing dance repertoire and will certainly incorporate a lot more framing.

Who knows I might even take the leap and purchase another sword, as well as some deep heat bubble bath for stiffness and back ache from the extended workout !!  🙂


Dancing Divinity Belly Dancing Workshops

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dancing divinity logoJoin Dancing Divinity for belly dance workshops at Dance Zone in Bryanston.

The workshops will be hosted by Chrystal Coetsee and Natalie Misplon and cover the following

drum solo dancing

sword combinations

fan dancing


and undulations

To book your place at the workshops being held over July 10 and July 11, download Dancing Divinity Workshop Registration form and fill in your details.