What to See at Folklife #412: The Arab Tradition of Zeffa

(Thanks to Mish Mish  for this guest post! You can see the full schedule of events at the 2013 Folklife Festival at www.nwfolklife.org/festival.)

Photo courtesy of Mish Mish


This year, for the first time ever, those of you who attend  Folklife  will get to see a recreation of a Zeffa, the traditional procession that is a part of wedding celebrations held in many Arab countries.

Accompanied by musicians, dancers, family and friends, the bride and groom are led through the streets of the village to a big tent were the festivities take place after the formal ceremony. In Egypt the wedding procession is led by a dancer with a huge candelabra or shamadan balanced on her head. Many families go into debt hosting huge parties that last until the wee hours of the night with a lavish spread of food and continuous entertainment.

The Zeffa opens the Middle East, North African and Central Asian show, which takes place at the Exhibition Hall on Sunday, May 26th from 7 to 10pm. The line-up includes many folkloric dances from obscure parts of the world rarely seen on stage. Mystic Rose specializes in Afghan and Azeri dance, Karoun will take you to Badakashan and Karavans to a Kurdish village. The show also features many first- time performers: Nazaneen who  will be dancing Malaya Lefff, a saucy Egyptian street dance, Alfredo who will present a dance from the Caucasus region and Robyn Friend a nationally-known artist famous for her classical Persian dance.

Similar events you might want to attend on Saturday are the Persian showcase from 11:30am to 2pm and the Arab showcase from 3 to 6pm.

Photo courtesy of Mish Mish

If you are interested learning more about Arabic and Persian dance,  check out Mish Mish’s workshop on Monday at 2pm in the Rainier room.

Mish Mish is a well-known teacher and performer in the Puget Sound area. This is the 38th year in a row that she has appeared with a group at Folklife. She spent years belly dancing in Greek and Arab nightclubs and traveled to Egypt, Morocco Iran, Turkey and Central Asia to study the culture of these countries. Mish Mish is the director of Karavans, a dance troupe who will be appearing at the Persian Festival the last Saturday in June and the Arab Festival, the second weekend of October sponsored by Festal at the Seattle Center.