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"ETHIOPIA Dances for Joy"

(Filmed and directed by Tamalyn Dallal/ USA/ 2013/ 50 Min.) 

Intrepid dance artist Tamalyn Dallal travels to Ethiopia. Contrary to dire images of poverty one might expect from old news reels, she finds a joyous array of unique dances that are completely different from those found anyplace else on earth.            

    Shoulder dances ("Eskesta")may become the next world dance craze. There are also lithurgical dances, dances with umbrellas, head tossing dances and more. 

    Ms. Dallal gives context to this vast array of dances by sharing her travel adventures, showing Ethiopian food, fashion and daily life. 

    The journey begins as she teaches Middle Eastern dance to teenage girls in a circus school, with young jugglers and acrobats as a back drop. 

    We learn that Ethiopia has 80 cultures, each with their own language or dialect. In Ethiopia's melting pot, Addis Ababa, The Hager Fikr Dance company represents nine categories of dance that encompass these cultures.  

    Tamalyn encounters the Ethiopian Orthodox pope on an airplane to the historical city of Axum, where he leads a colorful, processional Palm Sunday mass. 

    Each town she visits yields surprises, from an encounter with hippos to descendants of Ancient Egyptians in papyrus boats. We experience a candle lit Easter mass with priests dancing in an ancient rock hewn underground church, a Muslim celebration of the life of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), coffee ceremonies, castles, exotic foods, dance, and more dance. 

    "Ethiopia Dances for Joy" is dedicated to Tamalyn's late brother, Richard Harris, whose life as a travel writer inspired her to honor his memory with a film that promotes and shares joy. 

Review from the Video Librarian

Ethiopia Dances for Joy!

(2013) 50 min. DVD: $35. Dance on Film. PPR. ISBN: 978-0-9795155-9-0.

Dance instructor Tamalyn Dallal’s latest ethno- graphic program aimed at students of dance and culture (see review of Zanzibar: Dance, Trance & Devotion in VL-1/12) travels to Ethiopia to document na- tive costumes, customs, and dances. While teaching Middle Eastern dance at a circus school in the city-state of Addis Ababa, Dallal films their routines. Using simple props such as balls, hats, and ropes, the students defy gravity in solo and double configurations. Dallal also visits the Hager Fikir Theatre Dance Company, whose dancers perform pieces representing nine different regions, including the northeastern desert area of Afar, home to the world’s highest temperatures (the performance here features intimidating props such as long knives and automatic weapons). The traditional accompanying music incorporates flute, drums, and stringed instruments such as the lyre-like krar. From

Addis Ababa, Dallal heads north to Tigrinya, a pilgrimage destination, and west to Harar, where the elaborate preparations for Easter (“Fasika”) are in progress. In the former capital city of Gonder, she observes an Am- haric dance in which participants imitate ecstatic chickens with rapid head, neck, and chest movements. Most of the people Dallal encounters are Christian or Muslim, except in Gonder where she stops at the Beta Israel village of Wolleka. Ethiopia Dances for Joy! is not a conventional documentary, but Dallal does provide plenty of context here both through voiceover narration and onscreen text, making this an engaging cultural travel guide. Recommended. (K. Fennessy)