By Serene Serhan
Perfectly poised, the dancers of the Iraqi Folklore Group creatively portrayed a 7000-year-old civilization in less than an hour at Jerash on Thursday.
The warm sound of the Iraqi mini drum, the 'Alnaqara,' traditional popular songs, and exquisite dancing, made the night one of intellectual as well as cultural depth.
Curvaceous women dressed in theatrical versions of traditional attire, belly danced seductively, luring the eyes of the audience to their every move.
The men, in turn, stomped strongly with every step and pulsated with Iraqi pride, while the attendees clapped and cheered them on.
In each performance, the crowd was transported from the historically rich site of Jerash, to the equally rich history of Iraq.
The group's first piece 'Alhoudliah,' was a synthesis of Iraqi and Syrian heritage, in which the dancers, proud and full of confidence, danced an Iraqi dance to the tune of a Syrian popular song.
'Zahrat Al Janoub,' or the Rose of the South, the second piece, was a stunning solo from one female dancer.
She flaunted a confidence created by the power of femininity and its effect on man, tantalizingly seducing the crowd by moving her body with effortless flexibility.
Meanwhile, the group did not forget their traditional Chobi 'dabke,' which was the third presentation.
Accompanied only by drums, nine traditionally dressed men exuded courage and confidence.
Dancing aggressively yet playfully they amused a receptive audience.
The most shocking piece, the forth, 'Alhasjah,' featured an array of stunning women, dressed in red gypsy attire.
The women commanded the stage with a savage like aggression, wearing flashy sequined costumes, and stepping seductively to the beat of the music.
Suddenly, and without warning, the women, armed with two daggers each, enacted scenes of suicide over and over again.
The piece presented a disturbing, yet volatile image, "which depicts a gypsy woman scorned by the man she loves," explained Fouad Thanoun, the group's trainer.
The mostly Iraqi audience of around 150, cheered on, forgetting, if only for a short while, that this old and ancient culture has now been grasped by a ten-year war.
The award-winning group performed five more pieces at the North Theater, ending their dances with a tribute to the Iraqi children who are suffering from US imposed sanctions.
The group was established in 1971 with the aim of spreading and deepening folkloric arts and providing a delicate and elegant artistic interpretation of Iraqi culture.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )