How to do the sword dance
Table of Contents
Choosing a Sword & Preparing It for Use
Learning to Balance
Costuming Issues When Using a Sword
Dancing with the Sword
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Sword dancing in Saudi - Visit Saudi Official Website
A storied cultural tradition
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If there’s one performance that best embodies the rich heritage and culture of Saudi, it’s the sword dance, or Ardah. Combining poetry, drum music and rhythmic dancing, Ardah has its roots in military history, but today it is frequently performed during special occasions, such as festivals and weddings. No visit to Saudi is complete without experiencing this historic and majestic dance.
The History and Significance of Sword Dancing
The most common Ardah in Saudi, called the Najdi Ardah, was initially performed by Arab warriors in the central Najd region of Saudi before meeting their enemies on the battlefield. Sword dancing was a way for the men to display their weaponry and show their heroic spirit. The Najdi Ardah also recalls the battles led by King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia.
Today, the folkloric dance is performed throughout the Saudi provinces and has become a symbol of traditional Saudi culture. In 2015, Ardah was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
What Happens During an Ardah
The sword dance features two lines of performers (usually, but not always, men) standing shoulder to shoulder and facing each other. The men wear traditional clothing that is specific to the Najd region of Saudi: long embroidered coats called daghla with upright collars and six buttons, which are layered over white cotton tunics called murowdin that have long triangular sleeves. The men wear leather ammunition belts diagonally across their chests and hold their swords in their right hands.
The Ardah begins with a single line of poetry that is repeated as a second group of men carrying drums steps between the men holding swords and moves in unison to the beat of their drums. The men carrying swords sway back and forth and side to side as they sing. Bending at the knee and leaning forward, they lift and lower their swords rhythmically. Another performer carries the national flag. The mood is celebratory and lively.
A sword dancing performance can continue for several hours, with short intermissions, with as many as 50 lines of poetry being sung. If a dancer gets tired, he can periodically rest his sword on his shoulder and continue stepping with the group.
Where to See a Sword Dancing Performance in Saudi
One of the best places to see Ardah performed is at one of many cultural festivals, which are held in different regions throughout the year. One of the biggest festivals is the National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Al Janadriyah, which is held for two weeks in late winter or early spring outside Riyadh.
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Scottish sword dance: yarkaya — LiveJournalIn Outlander I came across a scene where Jamie dances the sword dance (jumping over crossed swords lying on the ground). This is the same dance as in the series, if anyone remembers (a gypsy dancer danced at the fair). Since this is "our topic", I studied and even made an interlinear for those who do not read the original very well.
A Highland sword dance was done for one of three reasons. For exhibition and entertainment, as he was about to do it now. For competition, as it was done among the young men at a Gathering. And as it was first done, as an omen. Danced on the eve of a battle, the skill of the dancer foretold success or failure. The young men had danced between crossed swords, the night before Prestonpans, before Falkirk. But not before Culloden. There had been no campfires the night before that final fight, no time for bards and battle songs. It didn't matter; no one had needed an omen, then.
Jamie closed his eyes for a moment, bent his head, and the beat of the drum began to patter, quick and fast.
I knew, because he had told me, that he had first done the sword dance in competition, and then—more than once—on the eve of battles, first in the Highlands, then in France. The old soldiers had asked him to dance, had valued his skill as reassurance that they would live and triumph. For the Lindsays to know his skill, he must also have danced in Ardsmuir. But that was in the Old World, and in his old life.
He knew—and had not needed Roger to tell him—that the old ways had changed, were changing. This was a new world, and the sword dance would never again be danced in earnest, seeking omen and favor from the ancient gods of war and blood.
His eyes opened, and his head snapped up. The tipper struck the drum with a sudden thunk! and it began with a shout from the crowd. His feet struck down on the pounded earth, to the north and the south, to the east and the west, flashing swift between the swords.
His feet struck soundless, sure on the ground, and his shadow danced on the wall behind him, looming tall, long arms upraised. His face was still towards me, but he didn't me any longer, I was sure.
The muscles of his legs were strong as a leaping stag's beneath the hem of his kilt, and he danced with all the skill of the warrior he had been and still was. But I thought he danced now only for the sake of memory, that those watching might not forget; danced, with the sweat flying from his brow as he worked, and a look of unutterable distance in his eyes.
Highland sword dance was performed for one of three reasons. For fun, how Jamie was going to dance now. In a contest, as it was between the young men in the Gathering. And, as it happened once for the first time, as a sign. It was danced on the eve of battle, and the skill of the dancer predicted her success or failure. Young people danced between crossed swords the night before Prestonpans, before Falkirk. But not in front of Culloden. The night before that last battle, there were no camps, no fires, no bards, no battle songs. It was all the same and no one was looking for signs.
Jamie closed his eyes for a moment and bowed his head as a quick, pulsing drum sound came out.
I already knew - he once told me how he first danced with swords in a competition, and then, several times, on the eve of a battle - first in Scotland, then in France. The old soldiers asked him to dance, highly appreciating his skills and believing that in this way they would remain alive and win. The Lindsey brothers knew about his dancing skills, which means he also danced in Ardsmuir prison. But all this was in the old world and his old life.
He knew, and Roger didn't need to remind him, that everything old had already changed, and continued to change. This was a new world, and the sword dance would never truly be performed again, calling for an omen from the ancient gods of war and blood.
His eyes opened, his chin jerked up. So! The drumstick struck and the dance began with a shout from the audience. His feet trod on the trodden floor, north and south, west and east, deftly flashing between the swords.
His feet soundlessly and confidently stepped on the ground, and a shadow danced on the wall in front of him, tall, with long arms raised. His face was still turned towards me, but he no longer saw me.
The muscles of his legs below the hem of his kilt were as strong as those of a stallion, and he danced with the agility of the warrior he was and still was. It seemed to me that he danced not only so that the audience would never forget this dance; Sweat streamed down his forehead, and an inexpressible resignation froze in his eyes.
In the same subject. On Friday, Ceili Rue performed at the Hansa Days in Estonia, where they launched a sword dance act with the Kavkaz ensemble for the first time. What Anya dances at the very beginning (before she starts waving her sword) is what we all should do, and the sword is already a solo. Caucasian girls dance with swords "in Georgian", and I can't take my eyes off this number, including because of how it all sounds. Music by Obscurus Orbis.
Arda: the history and meaning of the sword dance in Saudi Arabia
Legendary cultural tradition
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The sword dance (arda) best reflects the rich heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia. The combination of rhythmic movements, poetry and drum music is deeply rooted in military history. Today, this traditional show is shown at special events such as festivals and weddings. Your trip to Saudi Arabia is not complete without experiencing this historic and majestic dance.
The history and meaning of the sword dance
The most common sword dance in Saudi Arabia (arda of the Najd region) was originally performed by Arab warriors in the central region of the kingdom before meeting enemies on the battlefield. The male sword dance was a way to display weapons and show a heroic spirit. The Arda of the Najd region also commemorates the battles waged by King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Today, the folklore dance, which has become a symbol of traditional Saudi culture, is performed in all provinces of Saudi Arabia. In 2015, UNESCO included arda on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The structure of the arda dance
The sword dance involves men who line up opposite in two lines with their shoulders to each other. The performers wear traditional clothing specific to the Nejd region: long coats with embroidery (dagla), straight collar and six buttons over white cotton tunics (muroudin) with long triangular sleeves. A leather belt with cartridges is located diagonally on the chest, and men hold swords in their right hand.
The dance begins with a line of verse recited in a loud voice, which is repeated as a second group of men with drums pass between the sword-wielding performers. In the dance, men sing and simultaneously swing their bodies forward and back, from side to side. Bend your knees and lean forward. Simultaneously raise and lower the swords. One of the performers holds the national flag. During the performance, there is always a lively festive atmosphere.
Sometimes the dance lasts several hours with short breaks until 50 lines of poetry are performed. In case of fatigue, one of the dancers can periodically put the sword on his shoulder and continue to move along with the group.