A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nagwa Fuad Says Islamists Ruining Belly Dancing; Update on the Islamist/Belly Dancer Wars, Part I

I've been somewhat remiss over the last year or two in keeping you up to date on the ongoing culture wars between Islamists and belly-dancers. Let me catch you up a bit, starting from the most recent developments.

Recently Nagwa Fouad, a superstar belly dancer who dominated the field in Egypt in the 1970s, recently complained to Al-Masry al-Yawm (translation here from Egypt Independent):
A once-prominent Egyptian belly dancer said she has decided to stop dancing, saying Islamists have destroyed art and creativity in Egypt.
“Artists are sitting at home because Islamists destroyed art and creativity,” 70-year-old Nagwa Fouad told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Perhaps I should look for work in Turkey.”
At 70 (Wikipedia makes her a few years older, but who would be so ungentlemanly as to quote Wikipedia on such a matter?), Fouad continues to perform in films and television (though not on stage), and as this Ahram Weekly report notes, she initially lied about her age, pretending to be older. As the latter profile also notes, one of her television roles, in the series Zizinia, she even played Badia Masabni, the founder of the greatest bellly-dance club of them all, Casino Opera, which produced both Carioca and Sonia Gamal, beginning in the 1930s. (I must write more on the history of the belly dance, especially if Islamists continue to attack this indigenous art form.)

I could reproduce the photo of Nagwa Fouad today from the link up above, but I think she'd prefer a clip that shows her talent in her prime, despite the 1970s clothing on the audience:

As I said, I've skipped over a number of developments on this important cultural front line in the past several months. In coming days, I plan to make up for that with one or more posts on the growing culture clash.

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