Mayim Mayim

[Full notes] [Summary notes] [Other dances & the source code]

Formation Circle. W-hold.
Dance Structure ((A x 4) + (B x 2) + C + (D1 x 2) + (D2 x 2)) repeated throughout the music.
Music Structure 4 counts/bar & 4 bars/phrase except for Part C which is a 1 bar phrase.
Music Speed 145 counts/min.
Translation 'Water Water'.
Choreographer Else I. Dublin.
Composer Emanuel Pugashov Amiran.
Source Mostly based 'Palestine Folk Dance Series No. 3' (pub. 1946 by Lion the Printer for the Zionist Organisation Youth Department) downloaded from 2010/8/27. Styling details, where different, remembered from having done it in various casual international folk dance events in the UK previously.

Disclaimer: Mistakes are quite likely in the notes and no guarantees are made as to accuracy. There may be other versions of the same dance or other dances with the same name. Music may differ, particularly in speed, introduction and duration, between performers. The division into parts, bars & counts might not be standard. These notes of the dance are freely distributable (under GPL or CC-by-sa) in so much as the note's author's contribution but the choreography and/or collection were by other people and so their copyright might apply to the dance itself. Better than using these notes, go to a dance class where it is taught or refer directly to the definitive historical publication, 'Palestine Folk Dance Series No. 3', upon which these notes are largely based.

A simple, fun & lively traditional Israeli dance. It used to be very popular but I've not found done often in international folk dance events in the UK unlike the ubiquitous Tsadik Katamar, Hora Chadera, Nigun Atik etc..

It was created in 1937 to celebrate finding a water source in the desert in an atmosphere of optimistic early pioneer settlement and spread popularly in the kibbutz culture. Starting with Grapevine steps, it was the cause of the subsequent modern Hebrew word for a Grapevine step being a 'Mayim'.

I first lead it when on holiday and dances of a 'water' theme were being done so I thought this the obvious one but I had not prepared it teach so I looked it up on the WWW, downloaded a scan of the detailed historic 1946 Zionist Organisation Youth Department notes from and based my teaching of it mostly on that. The distinctive bits of the dance I remembered matched those definitive notes except that those notes had normal claps infront whereas when I'd done it before the claps had been over ones head. I don't know if the latter was an authentic alternative or a later Sacred/Circle Dance addition but I liked it (& it fits the dance's exuberance) so I kept the over head claps in. I also kept the styling I remembered (with flying Grapevines & shouts whereas the definitive notes have the styling less hammed up). The following notes are a mixture those two with the differences from the definitive styling described at the end.

Style: Israeli style. Casual & very exuberant.


Summary: 2 bars.

2 bars (8 counts).

Part A

Summary: Grapevine to the L starting R across infront.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. W-hold.
1 R across infront.
2 L to the side.
3 R across behind.
4 L to the side (this bar comprises a Grapevine Step (a Mayim)).

The Grapevine Step done with exuberance gains a twisting of the lower body acw when stepping R across infront and cw when stepping R across behind. It can also be done 'flying' (the R across infront becomes a leap), in which case swinging of the arms can also be added as it helps with the leaping.

Part B

Summary: In in R leap lowering arms, run (L, R, L) raising arms to high V. Ditto but out backwards lowering & raising arms to W.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. W-hold.
1 R leap forwards.
2 L running step forwards. Can exaggerate the running impression (there not being far to actually run in unless the circle is very big) by kicking up the R heel behind.
3 R forwards likewise.
4 L forwards likewise.
1 Quickly down to V-hold and further to slightly behind the plane of the body (to exaggerate the subsequent arm raising).
2-4 Progressively raise infront into a high V-hold.
1 Leans forwards slightly (to exaggerate the subsequent raising).
2-4 Progressively straighten up.
1 Pause.
2 Optionally shout 'Mayim!'.
3-4 Repeat count 2 (shout 'Mayim!') twice more.
Feet As bar 1 but reversing outwards (backwards in R leap, run L, R, L). The exaggeration is necessarily reduced (the leap is small & the kicking up behind is omitted) because of the travelling backwards.
Arms As bar 1 (down to normal (low) V-hold on beat 1 then progressively up) but ending in W-hold (not high V-hold).
Body As bar 1 (lean leans forwards slightly on count 1 then progressively straightens up).
Shout None.

Part C

Summary: Run 3 steps L, hop.

Start Facing the cw around the circle. W-hold.
1 R forward in a running step.
2 L forwards likewise.
3 R forwards likewise.
4 R hop turning to face the centre of the circle. Release hold but keep arms up in W-position.

Part D1

Summary: R hop x 2 touching L (across infront, side behind). Ditto.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. W-hold.
1 R hop in place, touching the toes of the L foot to the ground across infront when landing.
2 R hop in place, touching the toes of the L foot to the ground to the side behind when landing.
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 (R hop touching L across infront, R hop touching L side behind).

Part D2

Summary: Part D1 in mirror image but clap above head when L touch across infront.

Start Facing the centre of the circle. No hold but arms still in W-position.
Feet As Part D1 but in mirror image on opposite feet ((L hop touching L across infront, ditto touching L side behind) x 2).
1 Clap hands together above head.
2 Separate hands ready for next clap.
3-4 Repeat counts 1-2 (clap above head, separate).

Of course the first hop really needs to be a leap in place because it changes the supporting foot (but it feels & looks like a hop because it fitting in the series of hops).

Authentic version

Summary: Grapevine: not flying. Shouts: none (learn song). Touches side behind: not to the side. Claps: not overhead.

Differences between that written in 'Palestine Folk Dance Series No. 3' and what I've written above are mainly that the above has hamming up exuberance (which would probably have occurred naturally) written into it whereas the original, as written, was slightly less exaggerated:-

Part A: The Grapevines, although twisting, were smooth "like the movement of waves" not flying.

Part B: There was no mention of the shouts. (Instead it instructs dancers to learn the words & tune of song very well before doing the dance!)

Parts D1 & D2: The touches to the side behind should be just a little way behind and not to the side (toes of touching foot to the ground near the heel of the hopping foot).

Part D2: Claps not above the head but at natural comfortable height infront of the chest.

I've also subdivided the parts more in my notation. The original Part A = my (A x 4), Part B = my (B x 2) & Part C = my (C +(D1 x 2) + (D2 x 2)).