Shamadan (1978)

A shamadan dancer from the 1978 film ‘Sultana al Tarab’ (سلطانة الطرب ). The film tells the story of the rise to fame of Egyptian singer Munira el Mahdeya. Sharifa Fadl plays el Mahdeya and also starring are Farid Shawki, Nahed Jaber, Samir Sabri, Badria Abdel Gawad and Leila Fawzi. Despite starting her career singing and dancing in local coffee houses, Munira El Mahdeya went on to be considered the greatest female Egyptian singer prior to Umm Kolthum. Her style of singing was referred to as ‘Ottoman’, the Turks having been in control of Egypt for 300 years up to the 1880s. She initially appeared on stage only in male roles as at that time in Egypt female acting roles were taken by Christian or Jewish actresses or as a last resort by male actors.

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