By the brilliant Karim Nagi
The southern half of Egypt, know as Upper Egypt due to its higher altitude, is called “al-Sa’id” in Arabic (pronounced iSa-yeed)”. The Saidi people are famous for this semi-acrobatic stick dance called “Tahteeb” for men and “Raqs Assaya” for women. It is essentially a form of martial art where the manipulation of the stick and the demeanor of movement replicated a battle scene. The main motions with the stick include spinning, twirling, rowing, flipping and striking. Often two dancers will enact a friendly battle with synchronized sparing and coordinated strikes. But the essence of the Saidi dance is in its demeanor. The body moves heavily and confidently with a subtle pulse. Grace is more valued than aggression. This dance is done solo or in groups where the sticks are operated in unison, and men and/or women play together.