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Image:Scroll2.png "Semhu is an allegory for the world, but one where the allegory is richer than the source."
- Sirahet re Ahnatep

Semhu (service to the spoken word) is an Eypharian style of theater. It is one of the oldest traditions in Mizahar, dating back over seven thousand-years. While the subject matter and training has changed, the performances remain a rare glimpse into Pre-Valterrian Eyktol.

Semhu is an intensely physical and visual artform, combining acrobatics, mime, and martial arts to produce a highly stylized and often vigorous dancing style. This bodily expression is paired with ornate singing and vocal phrasing.


The Dance Style

Semhu draws largely from the Eypharian style of dual wielding and High Arumenic. In the Eypharian style of Dual Wielding particular forms and poses are memorized and connected by equally stylistic transitions. Because of the overlap of art and war, the poses and their names are influenced both by their martial purpose and theatric connotation.

For example, the pose "Eypha’s Tears", resembles both a weeping woman, and serves as an effective block for blows to the head and shoulders. In the Semhu style, the pose has greater flourish, where the martial form accommodates blades and is more brusque.

Where the art form draws from High Arumenic are in the slower more pantomimed movements, effectively creating an extensive, wordless vocabulary.

Semhu dance is either largely acrobatic with robust movements and aerial displays, or is somewhat stilted, comprising of a string of complicated poses. Acrobatic styles are mostly for show or to convey elements of nature, such as fire, sunlight, wind and water. These are usually performed in larger groups, all the figures creating a single entity, such as a river. The pose based style is usually a solo performance and largely narrative. An Eypharian observer will be familiar with basic gestures and what they mean.

Vocal Aspects

In Semhu the performers are divided between singers and orators. The best performers are capable of both.

The singers learn a style that requires minimal accompaniment, using their voices as an instrument between the words. Orators are known for their expressive command of language and ability to convey pathos through the spoken word. Orators tend to be accompanied by musicians and a choir of students. Due to their lack of mastery in singing, orators must be proficient in acrobatic styles of dance, whereas singers tend to emphasize the gesture-based method.


In the beginning of the art-form, there were no schools or extensive training. Priests held open auditions for roles in religious or historical plays. Temple acolytes were members of the chorus and often the best performers. Hopeful participants trained on their own time with tutors (often former stars of Semhu).

As the art form matured, the competition became fiercer and the religious aspect gave way to the secular, replaced by schools overseen by professional performers. Each city boasted a Semhu school, but after the Valterrian only Ahnatep’s remained, effectively centralizing the art. What performers remained from other cities flocked to Ahnatep bringing their own styles. This forced collaboration is what made Semhu a multi-faceted art. Acrobatic schools were joined with narrative schools and actors met vocal musicians.

Semhu training begins around five or seven and takes place in the halls of Peret. Eypharian youths are submitted to an audition in which their suitability and future roles will be evaluated.

Training consists of daily classes and multiple performances in which the only audience is the instructors. Regardless, of talent, each student is cycled through lead and minor roles for these private dress rehearsals.

During these performances, the students onstage are accompanied by “Khereps”. A Kherep is an instructor equipped with a rod of palm wood. When a student makes a mistake, he is hit with the rod, making a rapid connection between pain and failure. This also teaches the performers grace under pressure.

Costuming and Staging

Popular Pieces

Coveted Roles