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Touda dances Ahwash
From Imilchil on the banks of the Assif Melloul (the ‘White River’) in the Eastern Atlas, Touda has travelled some 195km to dance with her Ahwash troupe at the Flower Festival in Kalaat M’Gouna. She speaks to us in the Tachelhit dialect of Amazigh, while another member of the troupe translates for us. Ahwash is a collective Amazigh performance style whose name is linked with the Sufi concept of fana’, the ‘annihilation of the self’ in religious experience. While the men sing, the women chant and dance. The movements vary considerably from village to village, area to area. Touda wears jewelry and a white robe adorned with shining coins, showing she belongs to the Ait Laza tribe. The men of the troupe wear turbans and flowing white jellabas and carry silver daggers and traditional embroidered leather pouches. Like all female Ahwash dancers, Touda is unmarried – a requirement not imposed on their male counterparts. But during the dance, all are equal.