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  1. #1
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    Default Christmas Magi Dance

    Hey Everyone!

    Some people at my church have asked me (a little late, in my opinion) if I would dance in our Christmas play. Our church's Christmas play follows the Bible story from the angel coming to Mary through the visit of the Magi (wise men) and the slaughter of the innocents by Herod. The idea they gave me was that the although the Magi are not described a lot in the Bible, they would have almost certainly had a caravan, including dancers.
    They want me to do a short, not-too-sensual dance when Jesus is presented with the gold, franckinsense, and myrrh.

    First of all, does anyone know the historical accuracy of Middle Eastern Dance at that time period? And if I should do it, what music, moves, and dress would you recommend?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Well, that made me laugh because I've read a lot of Biblical research and as far as I can tell, no scholar (Christian or otherwise) has ever been able to verify anything at all about the Magi except that they were travellers from the East who seemed very knowledgeable about astrology and Jewish prophesy.

    They were probably wealthy because none of the gifts they brought was cheap, and travelling by caravan is a fair bet because, given the notorious banditry of the time, it was the safest way to travel. And if you travelled a long, long way you had a lot of pack animals, provisions and probably servants.

    So, OK, maybe some of those servants danced for their own and their masters' amusement. Outside the gospel stories, the Nativity tales are considered just folklore -- the Magi are not supposed to have arrived on the night of Jesus' birth and nobody knows why anyone labeled them "kings." So whatever you come up with is going to be pure speculation anyway. (Here in the Rockies, I've seen bighorn sheep present in the stable at our Nativity plays...)

    As you've got short notice to come up with something (I've got a hilarious image of some elder saying, "Hey, why not throw in a dancing girl? But, uh, let's not make her too hot!") -- my suggestion is doing something in the classical Persian style. More head and hand movement than hips if I remember correctly. I'm sure somebody here is bound to know more.

  3. #3
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    Wink Strange Idea

    This might be a strange idea but even in biblical times celebratory dance was a large part of Jewish culture. What about doing a dance that is drawn from traditional jewish folk dances. There are some that are fairly easy to learn and not sensual at all. They are usually done in a line or circle. If it was easy enough you could pull in the shepards to give the impression that the people were so excited about Jesus's birth they just started celebrating as that is really the impression the Bible gives. If you know any Messianic Jewish people or historical reenactors they might be able to show you some traditional folk dances.

  4. #4
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    Default dance options

    I found this sight on the web...

    Beyond The Hora

    it gives directions for modern Israeli folk dances. There is no documentation to show whether they have thier roots in older dances or are completely modern, however, having walked through some of the directions they look very traditional and you could adapt them to the music you have avaliable.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joyisadancer View Post
    I found this sight on the web...

    Beyond The Hora

    it gives directions for modern Israeli folk dances. There is no documentation to show whether they have thier roots in older dances or are completely modern, however, having walked through some of the directions they look very traditional and you could adapt them to the music you have avaliable.
    I think that's a good idea. There's an operetta called "Amahl and the Night Visitors" that has local villagers dance in honor of the Magi, who have chosen to rest for the night in a peasant's home. You could, possibly, change the idea to a local dancer performing. I'm guessing you have a crowd scene, anyway, of villagers drawn to the site by the unusual vistors.

    Your character could lead the way, typing a sash around her hips and beckoning others to join her in a line dance. And the steps could be very simple, inspired by the Isreali folk dances.

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