The moorish dancers
Morisco dancers, also known as Moorish or Saracen dancers, are figures that come from a historical and cultural tradition in the Arabic-Oriental region. The origins of these dancers date back to the time of the medieval Crusades, when contacts between Europe and the Middle East were intensified. Accordingly, in southern Europe, especially in Spain, groups of dancers were formed, thus performing at leisure and cultural events. These ensembles included Moorish dancers portraying exotic characters from Islamic countries.
Customs and traditional songs
Their costumes are richly decorated and evoke the traditional clothing of the communities of North Africa and the Middle East with turbans, veils and bright decorations. Their dance features synchronized movements and acrobatics, accompanied by their traditional music and songs.
From Northern Africa to Europe
The figure of the “Moor” can take on various symbolic interpretations: in some cases, the Moors were represented as defeated enemies or invaders, emphasizing the triumph of Christianity. At certain times and events, nevertheless they were also portrayed in a neutral and positive way; this, as an expression of an exotic and fascinating culture.
Over times, in some Mediterranean regions this tradition has been maintained and mixed with local customs. Even by today these performances are maintained during special occasions such as at patrons days festivals and other traditional cultural events.
MOORISH DANCERS IN THE BAVARIAN TRADITION “MORISKENTÄNZER”
The wooden sculptures of the Morisco dancers by Sonia Demetz bring us back to Bavarian traditions, culture and sculpture as well. Nikolaus Gerhaert van Leyden brought about a change in the plastic art in Bavaria, which became visible in 1480 with the Moorish dancers – “Moriskentänzer”. These wooden figures were carved for the ballroom of the old town hall. Today these are exhibited in the city museum. Sometimes the original Moorish dance is performed live at the Oktoberfest.