Khaleeji Hair Dance Moves from Iraq and More – ALLAF 005
Welcome to the hair episode! Learn how to move your hair when you belly dance to a trance-inducing beat, try the “Khaliji Sideways Hair Sway”, and turn your next shower into a stress-relieving ritual.
DANCEABLE RITUAL: Cleansing Your Hair and Mind
Washing our hair is a chance to cleanse our minds and enjoy massaging and detangling our thoughts, even if it’s just a quick shower.
A paraphrased Buddhist proverb inspired this danceable ritual. It is, “Remember that when you cleanse your body you can also cleanse your mind.”
Next time you wash your hair, do more than just the regular mindless or preoccupied wash. Try washing your hair as a danceable ritual. This can mean doing a few dance moves while you do your regular routine or having a whole ritual for the duration of the shower.
If you want try a whole ritual, here are some ideas…
Make the whole process leading up to washing your hair a dance as well. Remove clothes artfully, turn the water on with soft hands, and step into the tub with a pointed toe and graceful arm. Thank the water with prayer hands, and raise them up as lotus hands beneath the water source. Smooth your hair. You can even do the “Dripping in Gold” move from show number 4!
Relax your face. Welcome the shampoo into your hand as a gift from above. As you put the bottle down, also release any thoughts that are not serving you. Let them wash away from you. Massage the shampoo into your hair with both hands. Dance to the music of the soap. As you rinse it out, do down mayas with the water running down your hips. Again, wash off whatever is not serving you. Release it. If you use conditioner, reach for it. Accept the gift of the conditioner. Release tension a third time as you set the bottle down. Untangle your thoughts while you untangle your hair, breathing in infinite space. When you are done, do wrist circles as your hand floats to turn the water off.
As you step out, take hold of your towel with 2 hands like it’s a veil. Throw it up and over yourself. Dry off your hair and body gently. Wrap yourself in the towel and take a beautiful bow, knowing you just danced with all of those doing hair washing rituals the world over. Ta da! It’s better if you have 10 minutes to take a danceable ritual shower, but even if you have just 3 minutes to shower, you can dance for part of it.
I lived in Asia for years, and was often in places where people bathe outdoors with their clothes on. Those are the perfect places to watch more mundane hair washing rituals. I like to reflect on the time young woman whipped her hair out of the water while bathing under a bridge in Bali. The women twisting and squeezing their long black hair in the river in Southern India beside the bathing town elephant Lakshmi. Standing on the Lao side of the Mekhong in my bathing garment washing my hair as long motor boats puttered by.
In addition to being in areas where people bath outside, festivals often offer a peek into the different ways we can wash our hair. Decades ago at a Rainbow Gathering, my mother in law remembers being so impressed with how carefully a woman washed another woman’s hair. They are still friends and that is their first memory together. At Burning Man, the Sweaty Betty camp is known for washing the hair of strangers. This is a big deal, because at Burning Man everyone brings all of the water they will use and is also responsible for disposing of gray water. And the Playa dust gets into everything. My friend Katie and I washed each others’ hair in bottled water over our evaporation pool at Burning Man, very deliberately making every drop count. So special.
But we don’t have to be in a foreign place to have a completely new and transportive experience. When we bring rituals into our home, we are part of something much bigger than a geographic location. And when we dance, we transcend words and time.
DANCEABLE SONG: Saharni Halaha
When researching songs and dances with great hair moves, two dance worlds stand out: Zar and Khaliji. They are quite different, and Khaliji will inspire the danceable song and damn sexy dance move for this show. Zar dance will be a treat for a future episode. Here’s a teaser: Zar dance can be done to remove a demon, identify a demon, or to befriend a demon. Juicy stuff. Both Zar and Khaliji are important dances for us belly dancers to at least be aware of with great hair moves.
Both Zar and Khaliji songs often are in 2/4 rhythms, like ayub. D kD k. That quickly repeating doum is good for swaying and thrash-like hair moves. On youtube here are many Khaliji dance videos filmed in Iraq with fantastic hair tossing. Khaliji literally an Arabic for “Gulf”, often referring to the Arabian Peninsula or Perisan Gulf.
The danceable song for this show is sung by Iraqi-born Al Mohandis, aka Majid Al Mohandis. The song is “Saharni Halaha” or “Charmed Me”. It’s a secular love song with a great electronic beat for hair tossing. The song is about a man who sees a beautiful woman, doesn’t know her name, and he walks the streets looking for her and saying a string of names that might be hers.
Khaliji seems to be performed to pop music with a lot of different rhythms. It is done at weddings, holidays, school performances by children, professional stage performances, etc.
DAMN SEXY DANCE MOVE: The Khaliji Sideways Hair Sway
Khaliji is a folk dance that has been incorporated into popular modern dance in places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of moves that are not related to hair in khaleeji dance, but I find the sideways sway and hair toss and circular tosses and figure 8 tosses to be very beautiful moves to fuse into belly dance performances. We’ll just focus on the sideways hair sway for this show.
And remember that our hair frames our face and crowns our whole body. The expression on our face and way we hold our body is important. Without attention to the whole body, hair moves can look pretty weird. So relax your face, smile, and maintain good belly dance posture.
This is a hair throw move, so if you have any neck issues, you can skip this move. There are ways to modify this move so it does not hurt your neck. The most important thing is that we all keep dancing. Pause this now and do some neck and shoulder stretches to get warmed up.
Let’s begin. The dancer places their palm against their chest. This move will come from the chest. The dancer often extends their other arm out to the side.
Their head turns from side to side. And a little bounce comes from the knees. Look side, bend knees slightly. As you switch sides go back to neutral soft knees, and then look to the other side and bend your knees again. Look side – bend knees…
If you have neck issues, there’s no need to go any further with this move.
The Khaliji dancers seem to lead with their temple and shoulder closest to that side of their head. They bend just below their rib cage a little toward the floor, leading with temple so they look sideways with their head almost parallel to the ground. There’s a bounce there. It’s not a fluid movement. Those with long hair will feel their hair reaching for the floor.
Then they toss hair over both shoulders to the other side of the body using the chest, not just the neck. Again, the hair is reaching toward the floor, and the dancer is looking sideways with their head parallel to the floor, and there’s a bounce. Some dancers keep the same hand on their chest even when switching sides, and some switch hands. This move often progresses into a flowing figure 8 that looks pretty amazing on dancers with long hair.
I have included elements of khaliji hair dance as the climactic end of a 5 minute set I performed on stage. I enjoyed getting slightly tranced out on stage because I feel much bigger than my body. I’m more aware of the universe, if that doesn’t sound to woowoo for you. There are many very impressive videos of dancers in Iraq whirling their black hair in circles and figure 8s for an entire song. It’s not clear to me if trance was ever part of Khaliji. Regardless, when I move my head the way I have seen Khaliji dancers move their heads, I’ve felt a bit tranced out.
As dancers, we remain very aware of how we feel when we are dancing and after we dance. We learn from teachers who take care of their bodies and understand how to keep dancing as we get older. So if you want to try this hair dance, be gentle.
FEATURED LIGHTEN MY BODY FOOD: Lentils
Lentils. Cooked in water, full of protein, the main component in our hair. They come in yellow, red, black, brown and green.
MAKE YOU SHINE COSTUME TIP: Make a no-sew headband out of stretchy cotton
Hair is so much easier to change our hair style than our bodies from day to day. And we use our hair to communicate who we are. Think about flappers, royalty, punks, Muslims, and how we have worn our hair in different stages of our lives.
Make yourself a no-sew headband out of stretchy cotton.
FEEL GOOD LOOK GODDESS HABIT
When you’re happy about how your hair looks, you present yourself with more confidence. And when you’re thinking positively, more positive things come.
SAINT OF TRUTH
Our minds generally over-estimate how much others notice things we are sensitive about.
I use Korean shampoo. I don’t know if it’s tested on animals, or contains wild chemicals. It makes my hair look better than any shampoo I’ve ever tried. I don’t know what it’s doing to the water supply when it goes down the drain.