Bishari Archive #602

Bishari Bedouin Series – Part 3 of a 10 part video-clip Interview – May 2016


How many times have I asked a person about their dances? How many times have I tried for years to get to see a dance of their culture? Never have I asked about dances and they answered with a list like a well-studied exam question, then said: “would you like to see them?” Never before. This was the first time!
This clip started just after the above surprise and I was scrambling to my feet after they all jumped to their feet. I started getting to information before I could even turn on my video camera.
“There are four dances; Wosyet, Bebob, Sera, and Wokal”


Wosyet Dance
  • 1:04 And then in all clarity; “The first dance you see is Wosyet… And when we change the dance we will tell her.”
  • 1:19 Under my breath I hear myself say “OMG, you have no idea what a dream this is!” as they walk over the sand to take positions in a line to start the dance!
  • 1:49 Wosyet; in front of the line of men clapping on Count #1 and #2, with a rest on #3. Two men face each other, each with a sword and scabbard (or boomerang, in other clips I have seen them use shields as well). They have a specific footwork in place, accenting the count #1, and shivering their swords on mostly #1 and #2.
  • 2:08 At the end of their duet they put their swords in the sand and go to the line. Others run out to take the swords to continue. This pattern continues through several pairs of dancers. Sometimes they mock threaten each other with the sword, hitting the sword and scabbard, shaking the sword towards another.
  • 3:40 The Tambour musician stands in the center of the line, but also temporarily hands the instrument to a man beside him so that he too can take part in the dance. (Unfortunately, the hilt comes apart at this point so it is only him as a solo.) The wind was playing havoc with the mic on my video camera – so sometimes it is difficult to hear the music. At 4:48 the voices start coming through very well.
  • 5:15 One of our hosts dances towards Wael and offers him the sword to dance. Wael dances, but I have promised not to post it.
  • 5:27 Wael offers the sword to me, but I know from studying scores of YouTube videos that women don’t dance with the men in this outdoors dance. Some of the men encourage me but our host agrees that in their culture women don’t dance with men in this dance. (Anyway, I had a different dance I wanted to do and could wait for the chance.)
Bebob Dance
  • 6:12 The Bebob Dance is done with a whip, sometimes circling it above their head, sometimes whipping their own ankles. The whip is not left in the sand between dancers, but handed off between them. Again the line of men clap (now on #1 and #3, rest on #2 and #4), from 1 to 3 men dance solos in front.
  • 6:50 Jumping straight up and down
  • 7:58 “The next dance will be Sera”


Sera Dance – continued on “Bishari #603”


Interview location; outdoors on the sand dunes on Aswan’s west bank, with some young, University educated Men of the Beja/Bishari tribe, plus one professional musician. Interview and Video by Sahra C Kent. Translator present Wael Mohamed Ali.


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