Egyptian Stick Dancing - From Folk Dance to Stage Performance

Hello Dancers!

Since we are doing Saidi style dance in class this week (in Intermediate/Advanced), I wanted to share a few videos that show where Egyptian stick dancing (Tahtib) comes from and how it is adapted for the stage by both folkloric dancers as well as belly dancers doing cabaret style nightclub shows.

As the first, more traditional style folkloric clips below show, this is a dance that evolved from a martial art and that was originally done by men. When belly dancers do it as part of their show, they are almost doing a play on it. At the same time, it has become a beloved part of a belly dance show and many famous dancers have put their spin on it. I hope you will love Fifi Abdo doing her version. She is famous for it (among other things).

The last clip is of the Egyptian belly dancer Randa Kamel doing her version of Saidi in performance at a belly dance festival in Greece. Notice her head movements at certain parts! This is exactly what we talked about it class last week. Notice too something very important for all performers and especially belly dancers - her ATTITUDE!! She loses her hip scarf part of the way through her performance and she just jiggles it off and throws it out of her way and KEEPS GOING. She laughs and smiles. She doesn’t worry about it! This is the spirit of live belly dance, its all about going with whatever happens in the moment and enjoying yourself so that your audience can enjoy themselves too.

I hope you enjoy these clips even if you can just watch couple minutes of each one.

This 1976 video is published with the permission of Dr Magda Saleh. Rayyes Hassan and Rayyes Mahmoud. This video was taken in the region of SOHAG, at Sheikh Shebl.

Tahtib (Egyptian Arabic: تحطيب taḥṭīb) is the Modern Egyptian term for a stick fighting martial art originally named Fan A'Nazaha Wa-Tahtib (the Art of being straight and honest through the use of stick). The martial version of Tahtib also evolved into a traditional form of Egyptian folk dance involving a wooden stick, also known as "stick dance" or "cane dance".

Fifi Abdo Egyptian Cane (Saidi) style Dance

Remember too that I shared another really cute YouTube of Egyptian belly dance star Lucy doing her take on Saidi last week - be sure to catch that one if you haven’t!

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Carnival of Stars is this weekend! Two days packed full of belly dance, with performances on two stages, live music, shopping and food. It’s a wonderful experience if you can make it. I am performing on Saturday, July 20th at 4:50 PM to live music by Pangia on the Cafe Stage and again on Sunday, July 21st on the Main Stage at 1:20 PM. But you will see great performances any time you go. Be sure to get a program so you can know who is performing when. Let me know if you have any questions about this fantastic festival!

Alisa will be performing at Carnival of Stars!

Alisa will be performing at Carnival of Stars!

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I will also be performing in live music bellydance shows at El Morocco in Pleasant Hill on July 28th and at Tannourine Restaurant in San Mateo on August 2nd. Details on my Shows page :).

Have a great week!

Lucy's Saidi Tableau

Last night in Intermediate we were dancing to a song that quoted a bit of Saidi music and we did a some Saidi-inspired movements. I told my students that I would play a clip of belly dance Saidi so they could see some of the things I was talking about.

Long-term readers may remember this clip because I’ve played it before. It’s a classic performance by of one of Egypt’s most famous and most beloved belly dancers, Lucy. I hope you enjoy it. I love everything about this.

Lucy and her orchestra with singer Raafat, at a party for actors .

I will share more Saidi clips next week as we will continue to work on this in class!

In the meantime, I also recommend this past post I wrote about the Egyptian belly dancer Lucy, which features more clips of her dancing in different styles. Her feeling and musical interpretation are so beautiful to watch.

Just a reminder that Carnival of Stars is right around the corner! Two days packed full of belly dance, with performances on two stages, live music, shopping and food. It’s a wonderful experience if you can make it. I am performing on Saturday, July 20th at 4:50 PM to live music on the Cafe Stage and again on Sunday, July 21st on the Main Stage at 1:20 PM. But you will see great performances any time you go. Be sure to get a program so you can know who is performing when. Let me know if you have any questions about this fantastic festival!

I look forward to seeing everyone next week!

xo Alisa

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 :)