While visiting Egypt has its very own touristic attractions and traditions within the culture, one of the mesmerizing arts of dance occurs often in Egypt which is belly dancing. Most people consider that the dance comes from the Middle East as it is sometimes being referred to as “The dance of the Arabs” in the Western world. The term “belly dance” is actually a translation from the French language that means “danse du ventre” which is a tradition that is practiced by female dancers or as well-known as “the dance of the stomach”. The range of entertainment outside the capital city of Cairo is actually quite limited when it comes to the nightlife and entertainment side. Some locals and tour guides actually tell the tourists that if they don’t watch a belly dancer at least once during their visit, then they really haven’t got the most out of their visit to this beautiful country.
The art of the dance actually dates back to the time of Ancient Egypt, where Pharaohs would draw on their many temples and tombs and that there would be belly dancers present during certain rituals and celebrations which continues on until this present day. Their poses and movements were quite similar to the dancers that belly dance today. However, the modern day art of the dance owes more credit to the European experience of Egypt can date back to the 18th century. The sensual movements of the belly dancers have blended in folklore, gypsy and ottoman dances that have been inspired by the imagination of the Europeans who came to visit or were stationed posts during the many army regiments of that time during their stay in Egypt. Most of the excitement over belly dancing was often due to the visitor’s misunderstood belief that dancing was associated with prostitution which is certainly not near the truth.
One of the most mesmerizing aspects of belly dancing is the outfit attire which traditionally consists of push up bras, beaded hip bands, veils and sometimes short skirts. These outfits are sold and can actually be found in the many tourist shops especially around the Khan El Khalili area. Many hotels and local areas actually offer very entertaining belly dancing shows to their guests during different occasions. But that clearly doesn’t mean that any female dancer can become a great belly dancer just by being in good shape or good moves but certainly experience can play a huge factor especially during such traditional dances. Belly dancing actually has a major role in old black and white Egyptian movies, where actresses would actually practice and play the role of famous belly dancers. The history of Egyptian belly dancing is actually full of stars and well known dancers throughout the years. Belly dancing shows typically begin around the time of 10 pm, although the belly dancer might not even take the stage until midnight and even other cases maybe later depending on the popularity of the belly dancer herself. Here are some of the best Egyptian Belly dancers that edged their way in history with their charming looks and sensual movements.
Name of Belly Dancer: Samia Gamal
Her real name is actually Zeinab Mahfouz, Samia Gamal is actually one of the easiest known belly dancers of Egypt. She is iconic for having the most mesmerizing moves, she was also known for being the first belly dancer to perform in high heels and the rest is history. She was also a great movie star and played plenty of roles that included much success with her dancing expertise. Samia Gamal also mixed up different techniques from ballet and Latin dancing into her solo performances as she was known for beauty and a voluptuous body that was highly desired by both women and men.
Name of Belly Dancer: Taheyya Kariokka
Born as Badaweyya Al-Nidany, she has had a tough childhood and actually started dancing, singing and acting at rather a young age to escape the torture and abuse by her older brother. With the help of her nephew, she was able to escape the city of Cairo and that is actually when her career started. Once she started dancing, she began becoming famous as a solo dancer and then later starred in many Egyptian movies and was actually politically active and very vocal about her thoughts and opinions. In the year of 1940, Taheyya Kariokaa introduced a new dance of her own which relied on recreating oriental harmonies.
Name of Belly Dancer: Naeema Akef
Naeema Akef’s career started when she caught the eyes of famous director Ahmed Morsy who was the one who first introduced her into the film industry world as she was known as a singer and dancer before that time. She used to introduce several routines and monologues in a nightclub where several film directors were known to be in attendance. She started acting in many different movies which lead to her receiving the title of “Best World Dancer” in Moscow in 1958.
Name of Belly Dancer: Nagwa Fouad
Born as Awatif Mohamed Agami, she had an Egyptian father from Alexandria and a Palestinian mother from Nablus. Nagwa Fouad was among the many belly dancers that left her mark in the industry during what was known as “Egypt’s Golden Age”.
She had a belly dancing show titled “Qamar Arba’tashar” which was composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab who wrote an entire musical piece meant only for her because of her status of being so iconic in the industry. She has created her own production company and starred in many movies where she had many different roles but she was well known for her special choreographs that were presented.
Name of Belly Dancer: Soheir Zaki
Born in Mansoura, Soheir Zaki and her family moved to the city of Alexandria when she was only nine years old. She fell in love with music and dance from a young age to the point of teaching herself how to dance and listened to the radio quite often. She first got introduced to the art of dance by watching films featuring the famous Samia Gamal and Taheyya Kariokka. While her dancing journey began as a performer mostly in weddings, it didn’t take too long before she was staring in minor roles in several movies. Within hard work and experience, she eventually became one of the most popular dancers of her time, appearing in nearly more than 100 movies. She was also very famous for dancing under the songs of the legendary Egyptian singer, Om Khalthoum. The late president of Egypt Anwar Sadat would refer to her as “The Om Khalthoum of Dance.” She received plenty of expressions of honor from former presidents of the United States, Tunisia and also Gamal Abdel Nasser, former president of Egypt as well.
Name of Belly Dancer: Fifi Abdou
She is usually referred to as the queen of the oriental dance that is admired by millions in the East and the west as well. She became an icon of the belly dancing scene as she was in many of movies, cassettes and videos at her time. Fifi started her career working as a dancer but is now known as well off business woman. Her popularity raised with her dancing background and moving her way to doing wedding ceremonies and then a few years later she would turn into theater and films.