Young Saudis to train in traditional dance through DGDA scheme
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has opened registrations for the third “Diriyah, Bayt Al-Ardah” initiative, which is held in collaboration with the National Center for the Saudi Ardah, part of the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives.
During the program, young Saudis will be trained in the nuances of the traditional celebratory dance style by the Kingdom’s best performers, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
The initiative welcomes Saudi youths aged 12-17 who wish to receive Ardah training to apply for a place on one of four three-day educational training courses held in February 2023.
At the end of each course, five trainees will be shortlisted for a final assessment. The 20 finalists who pass a rigorous panel assessment covering the five core elements of Ardah (the Saudi flag, attire, sword, drums and march), will be honored at a ceremony in March to mark the end of the initiative.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 10, 2023.
Held at the historic mansion of Prince Thunayyan bin Saud in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the initiative aims to strengthen the next generation’s connection to Diriyah’s culture and history.
One of several community engagement programs established to preserve and protect Saudi heritage, DGDA’s “Diriyah, Bayt Al-Ardah” initiative aims to further popularize the dance form among young Saudis.
Ardah is one of the Kingdom’s foremost performance traditions, and in 2015 was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
In the Ardah, performances start with a chant that was once used to rouse warriors facing an enemy. Performers dressed in traditional costumes then perform a dance with swords to the beat of drums.
Originally, Ardah was performed only by males of the Shammar tribe in the central Najd region before going to war, but nowadays is practiced at celebrations, weddings and national cultural events by all tribes.
Combining poetry with masterful sword displays, the Ardah dance epitomizes Saudi loyalty and pride. It is these values that the DGDA aims to instill in the hearts and minds of young Saudis nationwide.
In the DGDA’s first two iterations of the initiative, held in 2019 and 2021, more than 200 participants received training in the art of Ardah, with 26 young people being subsequently honored in a closing ceremony attended by several senior officials.
Saudi Ardah remains a highly coveted skill among young Saudis thanks to its celebratory nature and uplifting poetic elements.