Legends of Belly Dance in Eqypt
Egypt is home to many of the great belly dancing legends. Throughout history, many Egyptians have made their way out into the world to spread the tradition of belly dancing. All Egyptians love to dance, but here are some who have taken belly dancing to the next level.
Shafiqah Aglebtieah Below is Namia Akef
Shafiqah Alqebtieah was born in 1851 and began the Golden Age of belly dancing. After studying under Shooq, she became the star that brought belly dancing to the public’s attention. She started out dancing in folk festivals and by the 1920s, she was dancing in the night clubs. Shafiqah was the first one to dance the candelambra dance.
Oum Kalthoum also helped to bring about the Golden Age. She was called the Voice of Egypt, making six movies and recording over 300 songs. Oum Kalthoum brought music to the belly dancing scene that expressed themes similar to those that belly dancing itself was meant to express.
Taheya Carioca was considered the best belly dancer of her time. She danced through many of the Arab states, was cast in dancing roles in films and even danced for the King of Egypt himself. When she first began dancing, she often danced a variation on the Brazilian Samba. Her love for the Samba inspired the addition of Latin beats into many belly dancing songs and dances.
Samia Gamaal was Taheya’s rival. She developed belly dancing into a more expressive, loose, improvisational dance. She added notes from Latin and ballet to her dance, and started the veil work. She was also reported to be the first belly dancer to dance in high heels. Samia performed in a more theatrical way to express the meanings of her dances.
Namia Akef is another star of the Golden Age. She danced in many movies and won best dancer at a festival in Moscow. Namia’s agile moves made her a world-renowned dancer and the envy of fellow performers, who once tried to assault her because she was so favored. Adding smooth, graceful moves to dances, Namia is said to be one of the most talented belly dancers of her time.
Fifi Abdou, born in 1953, has become synonymous with belly dancing. She is considered the queen of Oriental dance and is a master of raqs sharki. Part of what has made Fifi incredibly famous is her female empowerment. Many believe her dancing to be vulgar and against the tenets of Islam. However, Fifi is still performing and wowing audiences today.
Dina Talaat (pictured to the left)
Dina Talaat is another great dancer that is still working today. She danced with troupes since she was in her teens. In the 1980s, Dina earned a name for herself as a popular solo act. She is considered to be the last great Egyptian dancer by some. Dina has shocked audiences by appearing in shorts and a bikini top rather than the traditional belly dancing costume.
Belly dancing started out as a traditional dance, but through the innovations of many talented dancers, it has become an ever-growing phenomenon. Through their love and passion for dancing, these women helped shape belly dancing into the beautiful and enormously popular art form that it is today.