The American Guedra is not a strict replica or re-enactment of the North African folk dance but an experiential group dance ritual that has evolved for several years as a grassroots tribal dance. This version is not concerned with 'performance' but rather experience. It doesn't represent a historically-accurate tribal dance but is a group blessing ritual using rhythmic chants borrowed from overseas, and is not recommended for performance in front of an audience as that would change the focus and intention.
I learned this particular dance ritual
and also about the North African trance dance called the
Guedra from videos and taking Guedra classes at Pennsic. My
sources for the non-traditional version are the late Lady
Amira of Orluk, and Kharajin of Turku (who learned from
Mistress Beaumarishka of the Outlands).
The Tuareg (blue people, Berbers) of the
Sahara in North Africa practice this dance ritual. The
cooking pot used as drum, the rhythm, the dance, and the
dancer (when she's on the ground) - each is called guedra.
When the dancer is standing it's called t'bal. Their
traditional movements have been documented and interpreted
as having specific meanings (see Links below). Women are
usually the guedras (center dancers), but both men and women
drum or chant in support.
As Kharajin recommends, take off rings and long necklaces to avoid injury because the clapping and the guedra movements can be vigorous.
All sit in a circle (touching if possible). Guedras (center dancers) start standing, sitting or kneeling on ground, covered with dark veil. Depending on size of group there can be 1 - 4 Guedra dancers in center (if more than 1, they are back-to-back).
When dancing using these movements, think of good energy pulsing up through the body and out through the fingers.
Unlike the zar, the guedra is not cathartic but benevolent; done to send good energy out to the world. Take time to focus mentally before starting. The group is not an "audience" but actively supports the center dancer by chanting, clapping, zaghareet, and mentally "being there" for her.
The group sits or kneels in a circle on the ground, arranged as "A's" and "B's" around the circle (A B A B A B etc.). The clapping is done in a 2-beat rhythm, A's on count 1, B's on ct. 2. The chanting is done sequentially also. The clapping and chanting should be vigorous and loud! Clap hands forcefully and 'throw' energy to center dancers; rocking or swaying the body helps build energy.
CHANTS (each part sung [A and B] overlaps next part continuously, starting a little early if necessary, so the sound is continuous)
Beginning - slower (takes 4 counts: 2 measures of 2/4)
(A) ULL-ah al WHILEH-deen "God; our parents"
(B) ULL-ah WHY-Yay "Ah, God"
The guedra (center dancer) begins by letting the group energy fill her and make her move as in the warm-up movements. In our American or experiential version there is no choreography or required movement repertoire, the intent is not 'performing' but 'doing'. (See 'Ecstatic Dance' link) When her energy builds sufficiently or her veil is discarded signaling a change in intensity or feeling, the leader changes the chant to:
Middle - faster (takes 2 cts: 1 measure of 2/4)
(A) Ha-WEE (part A) "Spirit"
(B) Ja-WEE (part B) "Essence"
Alternate or additional chant for second part:
(A) Wa HO Wa Jeh "He is coming"
(B) Ah HEY Wa Jet "She is coming"
People - Short overview of Berber history
Amazigh Voice reprint - link between Amazigh Kahenas and Hawaiian Kahunas?
Casbah Dance - info on both performance and "real" Guedra
"Festival in the Desert" - music festival for the Tuareg
Karol Harding's Guedra FAQ - plus resources for further research
Moroccan Gateway - includes aural sample of Guedra in progress