Phoenix Belly Dance

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Tunisian Pot Dance
by Lynette Marchant

The Pot Dance comes from the south of Tunisia, the islands of Djerba and Kerkennah. Djerba is reputed to be the island known as "The Land of the Lotus Eaters" in the Odyssey. The dance celebrates the main industry of the area, pottery. Both men and women perform this feat of balance at weddings. The dancer executes twisting movements to increasingly faster music while balancing a water jug on her head. The jug usually has a handle and it is balanced first on the shoulder then the head. It is also one of the signature dances of the national troupe.


One of the most exciting versions of North African folkloric dance is the Tunisian Shaba or "water pot" dance. This dance is sometimes performed with large water pots balanced atop the dancer's heads. It is a theatrical depiction of women moving in graceful and fluid unison while balancing these water pots on their heads as they ostensibly return to the village from the community well.

In Tunisia, Shaba the North African word for folkloric, refers to the hip twisting women's dance done in a Tunisian Milaya. The Milaya is several meters of fabric wrapped around the body in a specific way to form a dress. It is clasped at the shoulders usually with decorative jewelry and held in place at the hips with a sash.


Resources:
Habiba Lectures

Tunisian Women's Dance (as performed by Jawaahir Dance Company)

Water Jug Dance (as performed by Raluca Ghiban)

Sahara Silk