Yowalah, the traditional dance of the UAE, is everything that a traditional dance should be.
A combination of dance, poetry and celebration of the national spirit, it is a special attraction during festivals, national holidays and weddings. Each dance has a different nuance expressed through the dance itself, the instruments used, the various accessories and clothing.
“[Yowalah] was different in the olden days. People would freely dance together to show their joy,'' says Khulood Al Atiyat, a UAE national, who is the president of Student Volunteer Programme at Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) and a student of Zayed University.
These days they are more organised, she says. “Performers meet for rehearsals and discuss specific rules such as how to rotate an accessory and move to the beat and rhythm.''
Globalisation comes at a cost, and younger UAE nationals don't seem to be too interested in traditional dance. But the UAE government is working towards changing that.
Here are a few facts on the Yowalah provided by Al Atiyat:
This particular dance is performed only by men.
People of different ages can perform these dances.
There is a definite synchronisation between the moves and the melody or rhythm of the poems or songs.
They dance using sticks, guns or swords. Sometimes, though, they use only their hands.
Large numbers of people perform this dance, but it could also be solo.
Dances are different based on the celebrations or events.
Picture: MEGAN HIRONS/gulf news