Muscat Festival: In line with tradition
Dressed in gorgeous traditional attires, 15 Lebanese stomp onto the stage to energetic beats forming a perfect line and drawing applause from audiences.
The troupe at Naseem Gardens is Alif Laila be Laila and is performing at the Muscat Festival for the first time. It has chosen to showcase the Lebanese folk dance, dabke. The stage reverberates as the dancers create a tempo using props like the saif (sword), duff (tambourine) and synchronised foot tapping to maximum effect.
The songs sung with the dance mostly tell a story or are enactments of special occasions like weddings and other social gatherings. Before stepping onto the stage, group leader and choreographer, Hassan Zein al Deeb said that the performance would be a fusion of the traditional and the modern.
“We will be performing dabke on daloona, alariya, alzayno, haegalo and zaffa. We have fused traditional with modern dancing to give the audiences a new taste of dabke,” said Deeb.
The dance form not only showcases the culture and tradition of Lebanon but also generates a sense of belonging to society, said Deeb. “Lyrics and moves form an intrinsic part of this dance form, which has been passed down generations. Earlier, villagers mending roofs would stomp and sing while at the task. This is how the dance originated.”
Today, the dance is often performed on special occasions. Deeb explained, “One of the highlights of our performances will be zaffa (the wedding dance) which is performed the night before the wedding when the groom applies henna on his hand, gets a hair cut to get ready to meet the bride. We will be performing on ten songs for the festival.”
The group performs throughout the week between 7pm and 10.45pm.