Hala al Safy and Nadia Fouad (1974)

The first dancer in this clip is Egyptian born Hala al Safy performing in a scene from the 1974 Egyptian film ‘Al Abtal’ (The Heroes  الأبطال) which starred Farid Shawki, Ahmed Ramzy and Mona Gabr and was described as ‘Egypt’s first kung fu movie’.  Hala al Safy is followed by a very brief clip of Nadia Fouad performing in the same movie.  As you probably know, in 1986 Hala al Safy, whose real name is Suhayr Hasan Abdeen, renounced dance and performing. She now considers it haram (forbidden) and describes her career as a dancer as a time “I left my life in the hands of the Devil to play with…”

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Hala al Safy هالة الصافى

This is Egyptian dancer Hala al Safy (هالة الصافى) performing with the son of Metkal Kanawi who was also named Metkal Kanawi. To add to the confusion, Metkal (the elder) also performed with Hala al Safy. The audio quality isn’t too good in this clip so you’ll need to turn the volume up.
Hala al Safy had a long and successful career as a bellydancer, also appearing in many movies. Several of her movie performances can be seen here on TheCaroVan. In 1986 she renounced dance and public performances. Hala, whose real name is Suhayr Hasan Abdeen, now considers dance to be haram (forbidden) and describes her career as a dancer as the years she’d “…left my life in the hands of the Devil to play with.” She continues, “Hala al Safy died and buried her past with her.” To know more about Hala al Safy’s transition from bellydancer to ‘repentant artist’ you may like to look at a book titled ‘Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety’ edited by Kamal Salhi. There are also many websites in Arabic that deal with the topic of repentant artists both specifically and generally.
Luxor born Metkal Kanawi (the elder), is probably best known as a vocalist and rababa player in the genre of Saiidi music. His group’s music is known and loved by dancers worldwide and I saw Metkal and the Rababa Orchestra perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia many years ago. Metkal Kanawi died in 2004 and one of his sons, Hijazi Metkal (حجازي متقال), has become a well known baladi singer in Egypt. Another son, Hamdi, has become a rababa player like his father. There’s a recording from many years ago of Hamdi accompanying his unnamed mother (who’s not Hala al Safy) as she sings a mawwal.  Metkal’s son Metkal, who’s featured in this video, passed away in the 1980s.
Many, many thanks to Jalilah who’s cleared some of the fog of confusion.

Hala al Safy (هالة الصافى) and Metkal Kanawi

This clip shows Egyptian dancer Hala al Safy performing with Metkal Kanawi. Its not the best quality being a conversion from an old VHS video tape to digital, but its invaluable as an archive piece. The song is ‘Farowla’ which is the Arabic word for strawberries. Hala al Safy had a long and successful career as a bellydancer both as a live performer and she also danced in several movies. You can see several of her movie scenes here on TheCaroVan on Vimeo.
Metkal Kanawi who passed away in 2004, is probably best known as a vocalist and rababa player in the genre of Saiidi music. His group’s music is known and loved by dancers worldwide. I saw Metkal and the Rababa Orchestra perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia many years ago.
Whatever happened to Hala? In 1986 Hala al Safy renounced dance and public performances. Hala, whose real name is Suhayr Hasan Abdeen, now considers dance to be haram (forbidden) and describes her career as a dancer as a time “I left my life in the hands of the Devil to play with.” If you’d like to know about her transition from bellydancer to ‘repentant artist’ you may like to look at a book titled ‘Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety’ edited by Kamal Salhi or ‘Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean’ edited by Tullia Magrini.

 

Hala al Safy هالة الصافى

Top of my list – Hala al Safy and her husband Melkal Kanawi.  In 1986 Hala al Safy, (whose birth name is Suhayr Hasan Abdeen) renounced dance and performing. She now considers it haram (forbidden) and describes her career as a dancer as a time when “…I left my life in the hands of the Devil to play with…”
If you’re interested in knowing more may I recommend:
– ‘Performing Piety: Singers and Actors in Egypt’s Islamic Revival’ by Karin van Nieuwkerk
– ‘Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety’ edited by Kamal Salhi.

Hala al Safy (1984) هالة الصافى

Hala al Safy dances in a scene from the 1984 Egyptian film ‘Al Mushaghiboun fi Jaish’ (Hooligans in the Army المشاغبون فى الجيش).  Unfortunately the music has been (badly) overdubbed at a later time. Starring Saeed Saleh, Samir Ghanem and Younes Shalabi (the three men at the table) the film is about three friends who are called up for military service.
The film was directed by a famous name in Arabic film Niazi Mostafa who had, in 1936, very early in his career, directed a scene featuring Badia Masabni and her troupe which included a young Taheya Karioka.  Niazi Mostafa was murdered a couple of years after this film was made.
In 1986 Hala al Safy, (whose birth name is Suhayr Hasan Abdeen) renounced dance and performing. She now considers it haram (forbidden) and describes her career as a dancer as a time when “…I left my life in the hands of the Devil to play with…”
If you’re interested in knowing more about Hala’s transition to Soheyr or in other artists who have ‘repented’ and their reasons for doing so, may I recommend:
– ‘Performing Piety: Singers and Actors in Egypt’s Islamic Revival’ by Karin van Nieuwkerk
– ‘Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety’ edited by Kamal Salhi.

TheCaroVan YouTube channel

deleted YT image

TheCaroVan’s YouTube channel is no more.  The channel featured short clips of bellydancers from the Middle East and occasionally singers, usually in scenes or clips taken from old Egyptian and Lebanese movies some as far back as the 1930s.  Full movies were never uploaded.
TheCaroVan YouTube account has been terminated after receiving copyright demands from companies and copyright organisations who claimed the ownership of some of the clips and/or the accompanying music.  While some of the claims were from entities who, after a minimal amount of research proved to be non-existent, some claims and organisations were legitimate and if you were a regular visitor to TheCaroVan you would have noticed that in the past, clips has been removed in compliance.
In the end, TheCarovan account was terminated due to a take-down notice by a company in France who claims to own the copyright to the 1955 Egyptian film ‘Sigarah wa Kas’ (A Glass and a Cigarette) which features dancing by Samia Gamal.  Interestingly enough there is at least one other company who claims to own the worldwide copyright of this same movie.
I removed the offending clip yesterday, immediately on receiving the notice, but that wasn’t good enough apparently and the account has been terminated.  As a result the channel and its research and information that more than 6,000,000 viewers had accessed, is now lost.
So, long story short, TheCaroVan is no more and I am now ‘An individual whose account has been closed [is] prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube account.’
Ah well, as someone who lives in the Middle East, as you can imagine, we have one or two other things to worry about at the moment…..