Seudati dance is one of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam or NAD dances, that was become the tribal war dance in the era of Dutch Colonization, and it was forbidden to be performed because it contains particular rhyme to fire up the spirit of war against the colonizer.
The word Seudati comes from the Arabic syahadati or syahadatain, which means testimony or confessions. In addition, some are saying that the word comes from the word seurasi, which means harmony or compact. Seudati dance has been developed since the Islamic religion in Aceh. Islam advocates of utilizing this dance as a medium of propaganda to develop religious teachings of Islam.
Initially, Seudati dance were using Arabic and Aceh language, where it is used for media of propaganda. The next dance is known as a variant form of dance called ratoh or ratoih which means to preach or demonstrate. This dance is usually made ??before the opening game of cockfighting. Ratoh has the same functions as Randai in West Sumatra, which is to preach about the problems in a community and how to solve them.
One of the most interesting characteristics of the typical dances of Aceh is always done in solid and varied groups. Moreover, most of Aceh dancing is always in group.
Seudati dance is so simple yet beautiful. The dance is performed without music or gamelan. There is only poetry and rhyme. The music is rooted in gestures and words of the dancers themselves. This dance is shows about the flexibility and courage that radiating from the singing dancers, the moves of the fluctuate dancers that moves slow then faster and stop in silence. To be sure, this dance will mix the audience’s emotion.
The performance of the Seudati dance is sometimes very long; there is even one which begins at 8 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. The stage is an open field. The dance can be very exciting when there is a competition between two neighbouring villages, each with its own Seudati team.
Each Seudati Dance is danced by ten men or ten women. When it is danced by men (Seudati Agam) the ten dancers are divided according to their function in the dance; one Aneuk Seudati, or the child of Seudati, one Adoee or younger brother, and eight Dalam or Aduen or elder brothers. One of the eight Dalam is called Sheik or leader, and there is an Apet Sheik or deputy leader. The six others are called Rakan or Kawan, meaning friends.
The patriotic nature of the Seudati Dance is seen chiefly from, the costume of the Seudati Agam, consisting of a long white right shirt, long white or black trousers, a sarong (a cloth wrapped round the under part of the body worn above the knees), selendang (scarf) fastened round the waist, rencong (short sword) and a head cloth. The dance is very gay and vigorous, varied by frequent rhythmical clapping on the breast. As they dance the dancers sing in turn stories showing the greatness of Aceh in the past.