Golden Era Belly Dance with Badriyah – 064

Belly Dance Podcast 064 Badriyah Featured Image

Learn some of the secrets of recreating Golden Era belly dance moves and costumes from Badriyah. Find out the best belly dance scenes from classical Egyptian movies with Samia Gamal, Naima Akef, Taheya Carioca and hear Badriyah’s dreams of opening a Belly Dance Museum.

Badriyah is a professional oriental dancer, devoted mainly to Egyptian classical and folklore styles, modern fusion with oriental dance and the Golden Age of belly dance.

She teaches in Ghent, Belgium, and travels around Europe to give workshops and lectures. Badriyah’s dream is to build up a real Bellydance Museum. As a start, she collects vintage bellydance items; such as newspapers, magazines, postcards, lobby cards, vinyl records and press photos depicting bellydancers from 1700′ to 1970′. Badriyah danced in more than 60 shows with Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution in 13 different countries including Greece and Morocco, In the 2016 Moroccan tour, the company danced to the Royal Morrocan philharmonic orchestra.

Listen to the podcast interview with Jillina!

What are some of the key things you learned about Egyptian folkloric dances when you were in the troupe Al Fayyum led by bellydancer Sheyla? 

What are Some Differences Between Character Dance and Folkloric Dance?

Folk dance is done my native people in their traditional setting.

Character dances are often inspired by folkloric dance or other things like folkloric jewelry.

Mahmoud Reda created character dances based on folk dance. His dances were meant for the stage and the screen, so he had to adapt them.

What did you Learn on Your 7 Trips to Egypt

Give students time to write down their notes at the end of class

I took workshops you took at the Nile Group festivals, and private classes, and your classes with Nour.

New technique in Cairo! Dance with straight legs (not bent knees)

This is something Nour was teaching.

Make sure that your student gets maximum. After a class with Nour, I was getting ready to leave and she asked “Where are you going? Sit down and write everything down.”

Give your students time to write down what they learned after class

I give my students the recording after class, write down feedback for my students, and repeat it in an email.

The 3 Best Golden Era Belly Dance Movies for Belly Dancers  

#1. Afrita Hanem, Little Miss Devil, 1949 with Samia Gamal and Farid Al Atrache

Here’s the part where Samia Gamal comes out of the genie lamp:

Here’s another glamorous Samia Gamal dance scene from the movie Afreta Hanem:

And here is the scene where Samia Gamal does a djinn oriental fantasy dance.

In the fantasy dance, she is doing big kicks and back bends and lunges. Samia Gamal does raqs sharqi style dance in other scenes, so you can compare her doing 2 different dance styles in the same movie.

#2. Ahebbak Ya Hassan, I love you Hassan, 1958, scene 1, scene 2. with Naima Akef imaging herself dancing in a cabaret and theater. And this is Naima Akef dancing to Lamma Bada in Ahebbak Ya Hassan.

And Naima Akef dancing when she wakes up and gets dressed, neighbors dancing on balconies, etc.

Naima lives on Muhammad Ali street in that movie. And there is also a singer. Both of these girls are in love with the neighbor. And so there’s a little bit of fights, but at the end the girls cooperate together, it’s a very interesting. But from that Ahebbak Ya Hassan, we can see one of the most famous dancing scenes of Naima Akef. The one when she enters an entertainment hall and she starts to dream to perform in it. And suddenly she starts to turn and her clothes change to a dance costume, and she starts this one of the best choreographies I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It’s like seven minutes long. And she used the same choreography when she traveled to Russia in 1956 or 1957 and she used it in dance competition where dancers from the whole world performed various dance styles and she won it. So this is truly impressive dance

Ahib Al Ghalat, I like Mistakes, 1942, full movie (link might not work)

Here’s a link from The Victorious, also starring Tahia Karioka. Maybe this is Tahia dancing flamenco style?

This is Taheya Karioka doing a folkloric style line dance. 

Belly dancers in the Golden Era had to be able to perform many different dance styles in addition to belly dance, especially if they were performing in a cabaret or a movie. Tap dance, or something like flamenco. Rhumba. Pharaonic dance, like fantasy dance. Like hieroglyphs.

Valerick Molinary teaches private classes on Golden Era Belly Dance as well. 

What Colors Were the Belly Dance Costumes in Black and White Movies?

I asked Eman Zaki the designer from Cairo what colors the golden era belly dance costumes were. She said you can look at the movie posters, but sometimes . And costume designer Madame Abla said the old belly dance costumes from movies were a lot of pink, blue and green.

What are some differences in the historical bellydance styles awaleem and ghawazee in the 19th and 20th century?

It is hard to say because we do not have a lot of records of Awalim and Ghawazee dancers from the 1800s and 1900s. We kind of know how they look.

We do have clips from the Benat Mazin from upper Egypt dancing, and there are many more ghawazee families.

We don’t have much video documentation from the dancers in the 19th century. The only accounts we have are written accounts. Probably the Awalim and Ghawazee dance styles probably did not change so much in that hundred years. They did of course change, but not nearly as much as Raqs Sharqi changed in 100 years.

For Awalim, we do have recordings from Nazla Adil.

Nisaa of St. Louis Presents A Reconstruction of Egyptian Belly Dance At the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Shining is also reconstructing old belly dance styles.

There are also differences between upper Nile Delta ghawazee and lower Egypt. If you want to learn more, Nisaa and Shining are 2 dancers who can help.

Late Golden Era Belly Dancer Fifi Abdou is Still Dancing Full Power

We can see her life (Fifi Abdou on Instagram), and what she is doing right now. Not that many dancers from the Golden Era are doing this same. For example, Farida Fahmy of the Reda Troupe doesn’t even want phtoos taken of her when she gives interviews now.

Listen to the podcast interview with Eshe!

What Goes in a Belly Dance Museum?

You have collected over 300 vintage bellydance items. What are some of the dream items you are searching for? Are there things that we can send to you for the museum if we find them? 

A dance costume from the 1940s or 1950s owned by one of the famous dancers like Samia Gamal. A Golden Era belly dance costume. Or a necklace from the 19th century. The first Ghawazee and Raqs Sharqi dancers had coin necklaces. I found coins with holes in them that might have been a on a dancer’s necklace. There might be hardly any left. The pieces of the necklaces would have been taken apart and repurposed if they were not still being worn.

Some of my dream items have reached me. I have a vinyl record of Badia Masabni and a billboard of Samia Gamal from 1956. And a vinyl record of Naima Akef singing.

I will turn a space in a beautiful house into a belly dance museum and a belly dance – themed cafe with a stage and cakes named after famous Golden Era dancers. Vinyl records would play…

Danceable Ritual: Thank the Universe Before Performing

It’s something I always do. Before I perform, I find a little corner backstage and clasp my hands and thank the universe that I am there and I can perform. I am not a religious person, but I hope to be a grateful person. Especially in those moments, I realize that it is so beautiful that I can go on stage and perform and there are people who are very happy to watch it. I thank my body that it is healthy. And I think life that it brought me there. It calms me down. And then I’m ready to go on stage. Realizing gives me the opportunity to really dance. To live it. To be present in every second. I feel the theater. I feel my body. Since I started doing this, I don’t have the feeling that I missed something when I performed.

Root yourself in the present. Then you live! Life is in the present moment.

When I realize that I’m more in my mind and thinking about the future, I’m not in the present moment. When I realize that I’m doing it too much, I stop and observe little details. For example, how the leaf of the plant next to me looks.

Danceable Song: Se’aa Bi Kurb Al Habib by Farid Al-Atrash

It is just sweet calming melody. It brings calmness. You can also find an original version on youtube of Farid Al-Atrash singing it. The calmness gives an opportunity to enjoy the movement and not rush. It has energy, but it is slow. And the melody is repeated by different instruments, you can feel the difference. And this is reflected in your body. This song brings a different aspect to belly dance than the modern music.


Golden Era Belly Dance Move: Pelvic-forward hip circle

This move is the core move of Golden Era belly dance. In modern belly dance, we often do big hip circles to the back. In Golden Era they often did the opposite. They emphasize the pelvis forward.

This is easier with high heel shoes, which belly dancers wore a lot in the 1930s, and in the 40s and 50s.

The movement emphasizes the forward part of the classical big hip circle

Spread your feet wider than your hips, and push your hips really nicely forward. It is important not to do a big circle in the back too. Keep the hip circle in the front and then just transfer from side to side rather than bending over forward. If you bend your knees more and spread your feet apart more, you can go deeper.

There’s one more thing she’s doing, and that completely changes that element. And that’s the usage of her arms. So you can notice that she has her arms above her head. And once she goes to the circle, she lowers the hands to her forehead and she slightly twists or tilts arms towards the direction where she is going. And it gives this beautiful dance posture. So it’s a combination of a front hip circle and usage of the arms and really leaning into the movement. And also the head is going to decide where are you go with the movement. So for example, if you start on your right leg and you go to the left, you lean the body to the left and also your look should be left, diagonal down.

Vegan Whole Food Ingredient Badriyah Loves: Apple

Adding apples to salad brings more freshness. For Christmas in Czech Republic, we make potato salad with raw apples.

Golden Era Belly Dance Costume Tip: Do not use rhinestones!

Use beads, pearls, or metals. Golden Era belly dance costumes did not have rhinestones, so if you avoid using rhinestones your costume could look more similar to vintage costumes. 

Feel-Good-Look-Good Habit: Smile

When our facial muscles are being used to create a smile, good hormones are released. Think of gifts in your life, and the smile will come naturally.

And when I feel insecure, I lift my posture. This also makes me look better.

Golden-Era Evolution

How did raqs sharqi evolve in the Golden Era? Find out in Badriyah’s upcoming workshops listed on her website! The workshop choreographies will contain moves from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Part of the workshop is in the Bellydance Bundle.