Middle Eastern Dance
Iraqi Style Raqs Sharqi / Qawliya "Gypsy" Dance

Characteristics
Iraqi raqs sharqi contains some elements from gulf khaleegi dances.  The exuberant hair tossing is the most noticeable.  It is done much faster than is usually seen in khaleegi.  Hip movements focus more on backward motions often emphasizing the posterior.  Dancers sometimes use props such as knives and mimic stabbing themselves (for example in the hip or amdomen).  This is meant to be playful as in "If you don't want me, I'll kill myself" and may play into the sense of martyrdom, pain, and suffering common in Shi'ite Islam where pain and loss is expressed through matam(beating oneself, often with a sword or knife).  This is a fast fast paced high energy dance that has a lot of bouncing.  Another prominent feature is the arms which they rhythmically point and toss from side to side sometimes almost pumping them up and down or back and forth.

Costuming Elements
Dancers generally wear a long semi-fitted dress with a simple scarf tied around the hips.  Dancers usually have long sleeves but it is not uncommon to see one with no sleeves.  When done on stage this dance is often performed in the common raqs sharqi bedlah seen in other parts of the middle east although one piece bedlah style dresses are more common than the two-piece bra and belt sets.

Key Dancers
Malayeen

Video Examples









































































Additional Resources
Coming Soon!
Qawliya dancer performing in a nightclub in Iraq.
Alex Bida.  Egyptian dancer. Circa 1860.  Watercolour.  Victoria & Albert Museum, London