The Siwan Burmeya is a type of dance performed during wedding celebrations by the Zagala group. Siwans are divided to seven tribes, and their leaders; named Ajwad; together co-decide on common affairs. Among those affairs was the matter of outside groups that come to work and settle in Siwa. They were only allowed to stay outside the city of Shali, and eventually formed a village of their own called Mansheya. Among these expats were the Zagala, they came to work as farmers, but they were also into poetry, songs, music and dance.

Since the Ajwad had put strict rules concerning the separation between men and women; even during wedding celebrations; the Zagala had to perform both male and female’s roles in the dances. Hence, the Burmeya dance was fashioned. The word “Burmeya” derives from the word “Barm” meaning rotating, as the performer(s) rotate(s) in place, or in a circle. The dance is performed either singularly or in a group, and involves hips shaking while rotating.

If only one person is dancing, the rest of the group would sit in a circle around him, clapping and playing music. The musical instruments used are drums and Teje’bett/Teshabebtt/Suffara (a type of flute). The dancer rotates in place while shaking his hips from right to lest. He uses a shawl, lay it on the buttocks, and hold the two ends by hand.

In case the dance is performed by a group, the dancers form a circle, with the singers and music players at its center. Each performer now rotates half a circle in each direction while leaning a bit. He moves his arms back and forth, and moves along the dancing circle.

This singular dance is performed during the groom’s bridal bath parade. The tradition is for the groom to go along with his friends to a nearby water spring called Ain Tamosy for the bath, accompanied by the Zagala. They perform at designated stops along the way. It is also performed during another bridal parade called Besbasa parade, where a special meal with the same name is sent from the bride’s house to the groom.

After the groom and his friends are back from the bath, they have dinner, then other members from the Sufi order that the groom belongs to come over and perform Zhikr (Remembrance) and chant until very late at night. Afterwards, a poet recites poems of compliment, glorification and flirtation, and the night ends with the Zagala with their singing and dancing.

Samir Gaber, Folk dance atlas, National Center for Theatre, Music, and Folk Art, p 2