"Zanzibar Dance, Trance, and Devotion"
(Directed by TAMALYN DALLAL/USA/2011/ 80mins.)
World acclaimed dancer, Tamalyn Dallal has once again captured rare art-foms in her new film, Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion. This is a spectacular anthology of 26 traditional dances from the East African islands of Zanzibar. With the help and guidance of Zanzibar's government sponsored Kariako Dance Troupe, she traveled from village to village filming dances, trance practices, and Maulids, which are Islamic celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad's birth- done with rhythm and movement.
Highlights include a group of former clove farmers from the island of Pemba as they show the rarely seen dances of harvest, rhythmic stick fighting, and other dances that call forth the spirits. Ms. Dallal filmed a tribe of matrilineal women, a happy village that attributes their good fortune to an 800 year old spiritual practice, and another where they incorporate pantomime with drumming while wearing vintage sunglasses and military uniforms.
This film was a collaborative effort in which Tamalyn Dallal filmed each group or village, then returned to show them the edited versions of their dances. Each group gave their feedback and corrections. The result preserves dances as they are seen today for future generations in Zanzibar. It is a gift to the island, as well as an important addition to any library or universities collection.
Zanzibar Dance, Trance, and Devotion is a priceless collection that is of interest to scholars, dancers and those who want to experience vibrant dance and music from one of the most exotic places on earth.
On the multi-faceted work of Tamalyn Dallal:
“DESCRIPTIVE, INSIGHTFUL, AND WITTY”-Bozenka, world reknown dance star
“A WONDERFUL GIFT TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RICH DIVERSITY OF THE CULTURES ON OUR PLANET”-Helene Eriksen, dance ethnologist
Review from the "Video Librarian"
Jan/Feb 2012 Video Librarian Journal
Zanzibar: Trance, Dance, & Devotion (2011) 80 min. DVD: $39.95. Dance on Film. PPR. ISBN: 978-09795155-9-0. This collection features 26 live performances shot in Zanzibar, a largely Muslim island state in Tanzania. As filmmaker, cinematographer, and dancer Tamalyn Dallal explains in the introduction, she worked with the folkloric troupe Kariako for two years to compile the material. Throughout, Dallal provides unobtrusive commentary regarding the steps, costumes, languages, instruments, and facial markings (such as paint and piercings). Subtitles translate the lyrics, which can be amusing, as in “You are skinny, but you are arrogant” and “If you have a funny head, the hairdresser has trouble.” For the people of this East African territory, each dance holds a distinct significance, although Dallal admits that even the participants in the Mwanandege ritual have no idea why umbrellas are involved; nonetheless, they feel strongly about preserving such traditions. Other dances recognize or celebrate sexuality, marriage, harvest, rites of passage, political ceremonies, and the treatment of diseases (fortunately for viewers who may be animal lovers, Dallal doesn’t film the killing of a chicken for the Kilua dance). For the most part, these aren’t particularly difficult or complex routines, but there’s plenty of joy throughout, with the possible exception of the trance sequences, which involve sheitans (spirits) who seem to possess some performers. Before her final edit, Dallal showed each tribe or village her footage to make sure she had represented each aspect correctly. DVD extras include a filmed segment of an acrobatic display that draws from Chinese traditions. A fine multidisciplinary title that incorporates history, religion, geography, and ethnomusicology, this is recommended. (K. Fennessy)