Hoda Shams El Din (هدى شمس الدين)

A couple weeks ago I was looking at the YouTube page of Sausan's Academy of Egyptian Dance and stumbled across a very cute clip of Egyptian belly dancer Hoda Shams El Din (هدى شمس الدين).  

  Photo of Hoda Shams El Din courtesy of  The Belly Blog

Photo of Hoda Shams El Din courtesy of The Belly Blog

Before I get to the clip, I wanted to mention a really interesting article/interview with Luna of Cairo.  Luna is an American belly dancer who moved to Cairo to study Egyptian dance and to work as a professional belly dancer.  Like many other belly dancers who have not had that opportunity, I have enjoyed her reports from Cairo.  This interview is about her decision to leave Cairo and move back home, and in it she says:

The dance scene is now centered around an Eastern European aesthetic, physically and in terms of dance, and that’s not why I came to Egypt.
— World of Dancers: Exit Interview with Luna of Cairo

This is a very frank and important observation from a dancer who has been deeply involved in the Cairo scene.  I am mentioning it because this is precisely why I like to share vintage or classic Egyptian style belly dance clips on my blog and why I also try to support other artists who share the same respect and love for the roots of the dance.  I feel that someone new to belly dance could go onto YouTube and look for clips and get a completely skewed idea of what the dance is, and perhaps be discouraged from trying it.  Some of the clips out there make the dance look much too gymnastical (is that a word?), technical or impossible for the average person to do, and I fear women could be discouraged from trying.  I always hear the words of my teacher Amina in my head when I would start to get to wrapped up in this kind of thinking.  She says, "It's a folk dance."  That means it is not only for someone with elite training.

Anyway, I highly recommend the whole interview with Luna of Cairo for a great read.  It sounds like she will be teaching workshops now that she is home from Egypt, so here's hoping that San Francisco is on her list.  Follow Luna here to stay up-to-date.

And so back to the clip I started talking about!  Sausan is another artist I admire so much- she is the owner and head chef of Al Masri Egyptian Restaurant (where so many of us in the Bay Area LOVE to dance, watch dance and listen to live Arabic music!) and also runs the Sausan Academy of Egyptian Dance.  She has taken many film clips of dancers and created DVDs of them categorized by dancer- she has translated many of the songs into English and subtitled the DVDs so it's quite valuable - you can see her collection here.

Sausan herself is a beautiful performer and I will share a video of her here when I start my series on American dancers.  For now, here is Hoda Shams El Din, with the caption below from Sausan's research:

©SAED Hoda Shams El Din was born of Armenian parents. Her first appearance on the silver screen was in 1950 as a dancer. She later starred and danced in a movie called Halal Alayk (You Really Deserve It) with Ismael Yaseen in 1951 and continued to appear as a dancer and actress until the mid 1960s.

A charming performance, right??

You can see more of Hoda Shams El Din on the CaroVan Vimeo Page.  And you can learn more about her at this really fascinating article on The Belly Blog.

Lots of news for this week too: first of all I get to be part of not one, but TWO live music and belly dance shows this weekend!  Tomorrow (Fri 6/1) I will be at Tannourine  Restaurant in San Mateo for a live Arabic music and dance with Khalil Abboud and Band.

  Live Music and Belly Dance Show at Tannourine in San Mateo on Friday, June 1st!

Live Music and Belly Dance Show at Tannourine in San Mateo on Friday, June 1st!

And then on Sunday, June 3rd I will join Khalil Abboud and Band again at El Morocco:

  Beautiful Live Music and Belly Dance Show at El Morocco in Pleasant Hill - Sun June 3rd!!

Beautiful Live Music and Belly Dance Show at El Morocco in Pleasant Hill - Sun June 3rd!!

Details for these and other performances are on my Shows page!

And then I will be teaching belly dance for the Summer 2018 session at the South San Francisco Parks and Rec - you can register easily online!

  Belly Dance Classes in South San Francisco!

Belly Dance Classes in South San Francisco!

Complete class information on my Classes page.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you find a class, clip or show that you will enjoy and I will see you next time :)  Happy Dancing.

Samia Gamal

Hello Dancers!

I hope everyone has had a great couple weeks dancing!  I had the opportunity to check the Bay Area Belly Festival last weekend - I arrived in time for the live music set with Tahneen, a favorite local Arabic music band.  It was lovely to see all the dancers perform to their beautiful music.  If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for their mailing list to stay in the loop about next year's festival and other events planned by the amazing Sudeep.

I am thinking of starting a series on American-style belly dance and dancers which, as much as I love Egyptian-style dance, is also a huge source of inspiration for me.  So stay tuned for that and today we'll enjoy the most classic Egyptian style with Golden Era legend Samia Gamal.  I chose this clip because of the song, it's a classic Egyptian song that was popular with early American dancers because it is on a George Abdo album under the title Raks el Gezlan on the album the The Art of Belly Dancingwhich was one of the albums I grew up listening to!  More on all that in the weeks to come, for now let's enjoy the one and only Samia Gamal.

Samia Gamal- Golden Era Bellydancer from Legends of Bellydance DVD

There is another lovely clip of Samia dancing a drum solo here - this is a must see clip for learning about Egyptian style drum solos.

And just a few notes- I will be teaching this summer at SSF Parks and Rec for a 6 week session, I will get my Classes page updated this week with all the info.  Contact me if you have any questions!

And I will be performing at Al Masri on May 20th with Nazir Latouf and Band, at Tannourine on Friday June 1st with Khalil Abboud and Band and at Carnival of Stars Saturday, July 21st.  I will try to get my Shows page updated this week as well with all the details.

Happy Dancing!

 

 

Aziza of Cairo

Today I want to share a beautiful clip from one of Cairo's popular current belly dancers.  This is the Egyptian Aziza, not to be confused with the American belly dancer of the same name.

 Egyptian Belly Dancer Aziza of Cairo

Egyptian Belly Dancer Aziza of Cairo

This is a longer clip in which she dances to a shaabi/mahagranat sounding song, followed by a more traditional (though modern) baladi song.  At about 11 minutes in she starts a drum solo and this is really worth watching to see how she dances it, picking and choosing what she dances to, playful yet riveting to watch.

I love watching clips of Aziza and I think she is very adept at changing her dance for her audience.  Her nightclub clips have a different feel to when she is dancing on stage at festival like she is here, and it is very instructive to see.  But even here, dancing at an Eastern European festival, she retains the nuance, timing and ease that I love in classic Egyptian dance even as she adds flashier elements that are suitable to this situation.  She adapts for the crowd but never loses what is her.  I love this and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

To contrast this with a nightclub show, see this earlier Aziza post.

And just a reminder that I will be performing in a live music and belly dancing show at Tannourine Restaurant in San Mateo one week from today.  Details on my Shows page.

Thanks for reading!

Hager Hamdi (هاجر حمدى)

Here is a cute clip from a dancer I haven't featured before, Hager Hamdi (هاجر حمدى).  I found her one day when I was browsing on The CaroVan Classics page. 

The little information I found about her seems to indicate that she was an actress who also danced, rather than strictly a belly dancer.  I always enjoy the natural and relaxed style of the "actresses who dance" and this is a really fun and happy clip.

I also love that there are a lot of backup dancers, so you get to see so many different costumes.

The dancer in this clip is Hager Hamdi (1924-2008) who plays dual roles in the 1951 Egyptian film ‘El Moallem Bolbol’ (‘Bolbol, the Boss’ المعلم بلبل). She initially plays a movie star named Suhair whose sudden departure leaves the director of the film Wahid (Kamal al Shinnawi) looking for a replacement. He finds Suhair's lookalike in a teacher named Bolbol also played by Hager Hamdi. The film also starred Ismail Yassin and Riyadh al Kassabgy. The male singer in this clip is Egyptian comedian Shekuku and the female singer is Suad Mekawy. Trivia 1: Kamal al Shinnawi was Hager Hamdi’s husband at the time. Trivia 2: 'Bolbol' (also spelt Bulbul) means songbird or nightingale. Does anyone else remember the Afghani whistling genius, Bulbul, the Nightingale of Herat?

The caption above is from The CaroVan.

Classes in South San Francisco resume tonight!  Info on my Classes page, we are going to have a fun session.

And I will be performing at Tannourine Restaurant in San Mateo on Friday,  May 4th.  The details are on my Shows page.

As always, thank you for stopping by my website :)

Melhem Barakat and Fifi Abdo

This is one of those clips that I watch over and over and over again.  I just love the whole relaxed and happy vibe it has, and Fifi's personality and musical feeling just shine through.

Melhem Barakat is a classic Lebanese singer and I love his music.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I hope your week is going well!  My classes page is updated with registration info for classes starting next week!