Photograph by Bob Greenwald

Dance of the Ouled Nail (2003)

5 minutes • Choreographed by Samara • Music: Traditional from Bou Sadaa

The Ouled Nail of Algeria were the subject of much interest by the Orientalists of the 19th century. Their dance, as many tribal dances of North Africa, is ritualistic in nature, with many repetitive movements, often done in unison. One by one the dancers in the group step forward in a solo or a duet, while the rest of the group encourages them with handclapping and chanting. Dancers of the Ouled Nail are “born into the profession” and dance publicly until they have earned their dowry, at which point they retire from public performing, marry, and continue the tradition through their daughters.

Click to watch an excerpt.

Photograph by Dan Brenaven

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