Al - Ayyala Troupe


Al-Ayyala is a popular cultural performance practiced in the United Arab Emirates during religious and national festivals and weddings. It involves chanted poetry, drum music and dance, and simulates a battle scene. It’s difficult to decide the origin of this dance. However, it can be assumed through the movements and indications of the performances that it’s related to the locals’ lives and their commercial, agricultural and battle activities.

Al-Ayyala performers come from diverse backgrounds and age groups. The lead performer is usually an inherited role and is responsible for training others performers. Al-Ayyala is inclusive of all ages, genders and social classes.

Al-Ayyala is basically a victory dance performed after battles. It has other names such as (the honorable dance) as it is performed by the elite and honorable Arabs. Ayyala bands were formed and encouraged to preserve this art form, and to emphasize its cultural importance and significance.

Al-Ayyala bands are usually formed from professional folk dancers, musicians who play drums, tambourines, and brass cymbals, and from chanters and dancers. Usually once the band starts its performance, the audience joins in and shares the love and joy of this popular folk art.

Two rows of about twenty men face each other, carrying thin bamboo sticks to signify spears or swords. Between the rows musicians play large and small drums, tambourines and brass cymbals. The rows of men move their heads and sticks synchronously with the drum rhythm and chant poetic lyrics, while other performers move around the rows holding swords or guns, which they occasionally hurl to the sky and catch. In the Bedouin areas of the UAE, girls wearing traditional dresses stand at the front, tossing their long hair from side to side. The melody has seven tones in an irregular repeated pattern, and the chanted poetry varies according to the occasion. Mostly love poetry is chanted where the poet tells the story of his love and describes the beauty of his beloved and his attempts to win her heart. Sometimes the poem is multi-purpose; starts with a description of the beloved and moves on to other things.

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