Shelil dance


A special type of dance where females dance by swaying their coiled, branded, and often well-oiled hair in public. This genre in fact is a variation of the common Sisiit. Lyrics associated with this type of dance consist of the aesthete character of the female body and the hairstyle, appreciative, as such, of the female sex. The lyrics act mean encouragement, praise and the engaging dance, and with the intensity of the dance and the singing of the verses at the moment, the performance accelerates until everybody get a bit tired and, eventually, it is  followed by another Shelil dance or a different genre of dance. The dancing females may either dance alone, in groups, taking turns. The dancers turn their head and the hair to the right and to the left side in unison with the song, the Kelembura (drum) and the clapping of hands. A lead singer may say newly versed poems in praise of the dances, or may repeat already available poems common in the tradition of that particular community. This is common among the Blin and the Sahel Tigre speakers. Usually several Shelil players may perform simultaneously. Opening the hairstyle publicly is an appropriate occasion for adult ladies to express their emotional feelings and show their particular skills, thus owning these domains as theirs. It is a taboo for males to perform such skilled Shelil dance because of the hairstyle as well as the taken for granted assumption that is particular to females. It may be contrasted to Beredg and Wessomia which are mainly performed by adult males even if the females also are crucial participants as they play the Kelembura (drum), and ululate in Beredg. Ululating is common in Wessomia, as it is typically considered to be a festive expression of married women to express their joy and welcoming of a feast. Young, unmarried ladies are excused if they are not able to ululate. 


In a weeding ceremony, especially of the bride-groom, his sisters and closer relatives females are expected to express their joy and participative mood by dancing Shelil, especially when the wedding group (Kxan) are entering the boy’s family home with the bride,. Eventually, other female dancers also join the relatives, and the dance may stay so long as the males keep playing Beredg, to resume later in the night dance called ferwenter or kondi. When a relative male is getting married, the sisters and close relatives of the bride groom are expected to show their joy by welcoming the wedding group bringing the bride from her parents to the boy’s family home. Mainly bride part girls in welcoming the boy’s wedding party players who come to girl’s home to bring her. Adults, mainly married women can also participate; seldom adult elders. Adult women with special hair styles and young girls also play the Shelil in all festive occasions especially during weddings when relatives of the newly wedding partners are expected to express their joy, participation and acknowledgement of the weeding event. The ever-present drum, the use of swaying of the oiled, well-prepared hair, and often the sound of the sticks stricken against each other, are the most common in this type of Sisiit – all in unison with the rhythmic beats and sounds.