#403 Ahmed Awedony “Kaff” part 2

                     Ahmed Awedony Interview Part 2; Kaff #403


Ahmed Awedony Interview Part 2; Kaff #403


This was a fun interview. We had had the good fortune of being in Aswan during “Journey through Egypt-4” study/tour on the dates that coincided with preparations for he Abu Simbel Sunrise Festival. We observed the Aswan Saqafa Troupe’s dress rehearsal and I was able to video-tape it. Of course it stimulated a landslide of questions. I had seen and enjoyed their choreography and performance of “Kaff” before, I was happy that it was included in the dress rehearsal. In Luxor JtE-4, we were introduced to the movement and history of the Sa’idi Kaff. I was looking towards learning about Kaff Nubi from our Nubian dance teacher, Ahmed Awedony. Unfortunately we did not have time for the interview until the last minutes. We were gathering in the hotel lobby for the transport to the train to depart Aswan. It was the end of the tour, we were tired and I was a bit sick. But I was happy that we were able to carve out a few minutes for questions.

In part 1 I asked about the Kaff from the Aswan show; I asked if it was Kaff Sa’idi or kaff Nubi? (Expecting it to be Kaff Nubi.) But no, it turned out to be Kaff Ja’afary. In this part 2 we continue to be introduced to Kaff Malki and Kaff Nubi.

As we learned in the first half, “Kaff” refers to the palm of the hand, referring to clapping. Bishari and Malki Kaff have 2 claps.

0:15 Ahmed demonstrates Bishari Kaff rhythm. (Bishari are the Bedouin of the Eastern Desert, between the Nile and the Reda Sea.)
0:28 Malki belongs to the Wadi Al Arab area, one of the villages of Nassar al Nuba, one of those of the immigrated (relocated) Nubians.
1:32 Ahmed demonstrates Malki Kaff rhythm.
1:47 I ask about Kaff Nubi, Ahmed says that Kaff was the main Nubian art.
2:03 “Ambercab” is an area that still has the traditional Kaff. Their rhythm is played on a “noggara” drum played with sticks made from the spine of the palm branch, and on a drum like the “tableya”, and the duff.
2:35 When guests enter the wedding, they bring gifts. They balance these gifts on their heads and enter dancing.
3:56 I ask if they place the gifts in the traditional woven baskets? I had been told that the large colorful baskets used by female dancers in performance troupes were originally used in weddings. (I still have to ask this question again at another date, because Ahmed went a different direction with the answer.)
4:04 Ahmed tells us about the decorated baskets that carry a mound of henna. Candles are placed in the henna, lit, and balanced on the head while dancing.
4:23 Ahmed has shared a video of this type of dance on Facebook. In this video he also danced with a sword.
4:48 I remind Ahmed about a wedding he took me and a couple other women (an early JtE-4 group) to a Nubian wedding Henna night where a basket of henna with candles was brought in. A woman was dancing and balancing it on her head. I was looking into it, Ahmed lifted it off the woman’s head and put it on mine. (My addition; The idea that Ahmed Awedony Interview Part 2; Kaff #403 I might drop it hit me at the time, I held it with one hand and danced a bit then returned it. It was really very surprising, obviously I still remember it about a decade later.)
5:23 “What if (the henna basket) fell?” Ahmed; “It is ok, but it is not a good sign.”
6:00 Most of the time they do this balancing dance on the “Laylet al Henna” the henna night.
6:35 Does this still happen? It happens in the villages, but not the city Nubians.
6:46 There are still Nubians who want to keep their heritage and choose to do this dance and bring this band. One famous area that still observes this tradition is called “Ambercab”.
7:00 But nowadays youth don’t want the old style and ask for the new.

I filmed this interview in the Basma Hotel in Aswan the last day of our JtE-4 study tour in October 2019. We were lucky to be in Aswan during rehearsals for the sun-rise celebration to be held in Abu Simbel on Lake Nassar, south of Aswan.

JtE-4 October 2019

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