Monday, April 15, 2013

Come Join in the dance- Part 3- Iraqi Kurdistan

In the noon break of an Idle No More conference I joined a small round dance led by a women's drumming group. As the dancers clasped hands and formed a semi-circle, our legs moved in rhythm and our arms kept the beat. As I joined my friends in the dance I looked around and it seemed very familiar. The formation, the legs and feet, the hands clasped and the arms beating took me to the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Only the music was different.

Dancing  is an integral part of the culture of the Kurds. Small groups or large groups can break into spontaneous movement- in the forest, in a meadow, on the street or even sometimes on the bus.  At the big Spring/New Year celebration, Naw Roz, family groups picnicking throughout the countryside bring loudspeakers and electronic players.These provide the beat and music. Then the  generations of friends and family  join hands in a semi circle, which can extend to a full circle if there are enough people. The feet move sideways around the circle while the arms and shoulders move vigorously to the beat. Occasionally, one has the privilege of having a live group playing drums and cuzela  (a nasally oboe type of wind instrument).

 Weddings are not complete without huge speaker systems that blast singers such as  Aziz Waysi, a very popular singer, and the circles of moving shoulders and feet. Below is a great video that shows village life along with an example of his music.
Our team was invited to celebrate the wedding of a son of one of our partners. The Autumn day was still quite warm and the sky blue. The mountainous region called the "Quandil" rose high above the foothills. The wedding celebration was held outside, on the grounds of a rural football/soccer stadium. Women, including the groom's mother,  prepared food over propane fires in large vats. Then the young men served the rice, chicken, mutton and vegetables to the women and children who sat on rugs around a plastic tablecloth. The men and older boys ate  separately. However, once the mess was rolled up in the disposable tablecloths and cleared away, the loudspeakers were unloaded from a big truck. The men moved over to the area with the women. And the dancing began.

 This is a bit of footage that I took with my little Nikon. It is a little rustic but shows the beautiful "jili Kurdi" and the long sleeves tied behind the back of the women.
My team mate who was brought up in the Christian faith said that his experience was turned around. There men and women were able to eat together and talk together but dancing was not allowed. Here men and women  must eat and talk separately, but when it comes to dancing they are welcome to join hands and dance side by side.

My Kurdish dancing experience mirrors the welcome that I have experienced in all my interactions with Kurdish people. They seem excited and  a little amused  that we desire to join into their cultural traditions, whether that is eating Kurdish food, sleeping on mats on their floors or joining their family in dance. But they say beker bate..welcome, welcome. ["You may be a  little strange looking and you don't know how to dance very well,"] But welcome, please come and join us..

I don't have any video footage of me joining the dance, but here are a couple of still photos.(Rosemary Milazzo)

1 comment:

  1. im catching up on your posts. loved this one and the music you added. i was blairing it in the house this morning. i think opened a whole knew world of music for some of my housemates :D