The magic of dancing in Mauritius and Seychelles

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At that moment, we break loose from anxiety and the bad weather that has been trying to sabotage our plans. We open the floodgates of our inner freedom and convince ourselves that the dance is not just another flight of fancy of some crazy foreigners. We entertain ourselves, the chef, and the old wooden boats. We don’t need anything; we have everything – here and now.

–Bistra Yakimova, “The Magic of Traveling: Follow the Locals”

This is just one way to try to explain why dance is so important in our lives, in our travels. We overcome bad situations, we explore new places and meet new people through dancing. In this article, we’ll try to put a spell on you with some traditional dance from Mauritius and Seychelles. We hope that this will give you a new perspective to explore history and people.

The history behind Séga dance

A long time ago, the beaches of Mauritius played a different role than nowadays (mainly to serve folks on vacation). Except for being a place where masters could admire the beauty of nature and fishermen to sail away with their fishing boats from, the beaches used to be the spot where slaves gathered in the evening. In their spare time, at sunset, they would come out on the sand where they would move to the rhythm of the playful Sega music. At first, the accompaniment consisted of just tambourines and triangles, complemented by other percussion instruments as a rattle, moutia, hand drums. Around the hissing flames of the fire, the slaves would dance vigorously, without taking their feet off the sand. In contrast, all other body parts were swinging quite energetically and the colorful rags the slaves wore danced with the wind. The rhythm of music and the songs in Creole set the slaves free from the stress of the heavy workdays and served as their way to protest against the social injustice.

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The beach performance

We got so inspired by the story of the dance and we watched some live shows containing Sega so we thought we want to feel as free as the dancers and feel the sand between our toes. While the sand itself doesn’t allow much of footwork, the wind and the colorful traditional clothing gave us the authentic taste of celebration and freedom. We struggled a bit with the unexpected strong wind on the Palmar beach. We still managed to have a lot of fun self-shooting ourselves dancing sega and looking like locals helped us make new friends. One of them even sang in Creole for us!

 

Our Séga workshops

Ever since we returned from Mauritius we kept feeling the vibes and wanted to spread the emotion of dancing and the wealthy island culture. That’s why we included the dance from Mauritius in several events we organized or took part in.

We booked a dance studio to make a book party in Varna. Together with hit the stage to enjoy a lesson in Mauritius dance and even without sand between our toes (with fancy scarfs though), we traveled through the magic of dance.

Dancing Sega in Varna on Follow the locals book event

 

An impromptu dance workshop on a training course in Cyprus just happened. This topics of the course were happiness and positive psychology, and how can one not be happy when dancing? We danced in the middle of a pine forest and yes, it was a spiritual experience.

One of our favorite activities is dancing with people of different ages and backgrounds. So we were so excited when with did a Sega dance workshop with parents and kids from Haskovo. Not only had we tons of fun, but kids were so interested in the culture and traditions of Mauritius and they had the chance to explore it together with their parents in storytelling games later.

 

Dance from Seychelles

And three years later we found ourselves in the region of this amazing islands nearby Africa! This time – on Seychelles! We did our homework and researched different styles of music that are popular over the islands of Seychelles. It turned out that yet there’s no dance so emblematic in Seychelles as Sega is in Mauritius.

Still, we love the playful rhythm of Moutia (or Moutya) music. Moutia originates from a mysterious erotic dance that dates back to the days of slavery so it was also an opportunity to express the slaves’ discontent. The songs were banned by the colonial authorities as they believe they’re some sort of prayers. A local friend on Praslin told us, that colonizers thought slaves were using music and songs to communicate and speak badly of their masters.

We couldn’t watch live Moutia dance, as it’s danced on special festivals few times per year. We visited a traditional market near Beau Vallon beach and we could hear the amazing rhythms, but nobody dared to dance (maybe they needed more cocktails).

 

As you can see from the video, we were geared with a Mavic Air drone and a GoPro, and it was a pleasure dancing on an absolutely secluded beach. We had a small incident with a nasty wave, the sun was scorching, but we enjoyed our self-taught Moutia so much!

 

Let us know if you hear about some traditional dance from the archipelagos in the Indian Ocean! have you ever tried dancing like locals? Would you love to explore cultures and history through dance?

 

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