Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy and the Reda Troupe (1963)

Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy and the Reda Troupe perform in a scene from the 1963 film “Agazet nos el Sana” (Mid Year Holiday/Vacation أجازة نص السنة.). The film also starred Egyptian actress Magda and Abdel Menam Ibrahim.

Mahmoud Reda is the co-founder, along with his brother Ali and Farida Fahmy, of the Reda Troupe who bought folkloric Egyptian dances onto the stage where they could be seen and appreciated by a wider audience.  In his younger days, Reda was a gymnast representing Egypt in the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics.

Reda freely acknowledges however that he altered the folkloric dances by adding other influences to make them more accessible to the audience. In his own words during an interview with Carolina Varga Dinicu in 2005 he describes his troupe’s dances as being merely “inspired by the folkloric”.  As dancers, it would do us well to remember that Reda has never claimed to show authenticity and his comments on the dances in their original form were less than enthusiastic.  His interpretation of the Hagallah, a dance from the Mersa Matruh (مرسى مطروح) area of Egypt would be just one example.  (So you can place it, Mersa Matruh is in the top left hand part of Egypt, near the border with Libya.)  Back to the dance.  You’ll see al hagallah frequently in dance shows, usually performed to same piece of music (you know the tune – daa, daa, daa, daa, da-de-da etc), often with the same steps as the original Reda choreography, sometimes with scarves, sometimes without, sometimes costumed with the style of tiered skirts or sometimes in the glittery cabaret version. The Reda style hagallah is a great show piece but is it ‘real’? However, as an Egyptian friend said recently, ‘Egyptians have so many other things to be worried about than some old time dance!’

Trivia: Mahmoud Reda’s daughter Sherine was married at one time to Egyptian singer Amr Diab.


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