Iraqi Gypsy Dance (El Kawliya)

The Iraqi gypsy dance is improvised, its movements not being bound by any rules. The movements are full of power, earthiness, passion and a zest for life. Gypsy dancers have kept their traditional dances alive by maintaining their simple lifestyle and by not allowing modern elements from ballet or from any other dance styles to slip in.

The original travelling people came from India. However today, one can differentiate between three distinct groups: The Roma, related to the Sinti and the Manush tribes, who have lived in Central Europe and the Balkans since the 5th century, the Gitanos, who live in Spain and Portugal and the gypsies of Egypt who are called El Gager or El Ghawazi and lastly those in Iraq, El Kawliya. After the collapse of the Saddam regime the El Kawliya have suffered under the attacks of religious fanatics. They have been driven out of their villages and can now be found living in the outskirts of Baghdad, between a huge refuse dump and a sewage channel.

You will find a documentary film by the film maker Ali Tale about the life of the gypsies in Iraq on YouTube.

 
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