Naima Akef (1954) نعيمة عاكف‎

The dancer in this scene is the legendary Naima Akef (1929-1966) and the singer is Karem Mahmoud (1922-1995) who was a well-known Egyptian singer and actor. The scene’s from the 1954 Egyptian film ‘Nour al Ayoun’ (Light of My Eyes نور عيوني ) which also starred Mahmoud al Meliji, Zeinat Sedki and Hassan Fayek.  A quick summary of the film plot is that Nour the dancer (Akef) loves Adel the singer (Mahmoud) and they’re a successful duet. Hanafi (al Meliji) is jealous and pins a murder charge on Adel who’s arrested. Nour gets a confession from Hanafi and Nour and Adel get married.
Trivia: If you’re interested, there’s a clip on this channel of Egyptian dancer Nagua Fouad performing while Karem Mahmoud sings “Samra ya Samra”.

Naima Akef (1951) نعيمة عاكف

Dancer and actress Naima Akef (1929-1966) performs in a scene from the Egyptian film ‘Furigat’ which was released in July 1951. The film’s Arabic title فرجت is often translated into English as ‘All’s Well’ but the word can also mean ‘released’ which sort of ties in with the storyline
The film starred Naima Akef and also Abbas Fares, Hassan Fayek and actress Zomoroda. I think the actor miming the song in this scene is Salah Abdelhamid.
Naima Akef’s big break came when she was introduced by singer Suad Makkawi to the talent scouts at Nahhas Films in Cairo, a company that, at that time, was part owned by Egyptian actor Yousef Wehbi.
The overseeing company, Studio Nahhas, was nationalised in 1963 by the Egyptian government and its name was changed to ‘Studio el Nil’ (Nile Studios). At some point thereafter the name was changed back to Studio Nahhas and now the whole area is known as Cinema City.

Melaya Leff (Egypt)

This is a three part clip featuring dancers performing with a wrap known in Egypt as a melaya leff. The melaya itself is made of black fabric, usually reaching from the head down to the floor. Egyptian ladies once used the melaya leff to cover themselves modestly when they went outside the home. They wore their regular clothes underneath the melaya leff. The melaya leff used for performances has sequins or pailettes sewn on to it while the regular daywear version does not. The melaya leff was most popular up to the 1950s and is often worn in old time Egyptian movies. It can still be seen occasionally today being worn by older women in some more rural or conservative parts of Egypt. Dancers use the melaya leff as part of a ‘character piece’. Its become a prop usually combined with a floral ruffled dress, headscarf with pom poms, burqa and ship-ship.
In this clip we have:
(1) Naima Akef and singer Mohammad Abdel Mottaleb. This is part of a longer scene and in this melaya section Naima Akef is wearing ship-ship on her feet, these are backless mules or slip ons with a high heel. The word for the footwear is also written as shep-shep, it all depends on your Arabic accent 🙂
(2) A chorus line of melaya clad dancers.
(3) Fouad el Mohandes and Shweikar in the 1968 Egyptian film ‘Mutarada Gharamia’ (‘Chasing Passion’ مطاردة غرامية) which was based on the successful stage play ‘Boeing, Boeing’. Fouad el Mohandes and Shweikar were married in real life at the time this film was made.

Naima Akef (1949) عاكف‎ نعيمة

Naima Akef in a scene from the 1949 Egyptian film ‘Sitt al Bayt’ (Lady of the House ست البيت). From what I’ve been able to find out, this was her first credited movie role.  The film starred Faten Hamama (who was married to Omar Sharif for many years).  Also starring were Emad Hamdi, Thuraya Fakri, Hosna Soloman and Zeinab Sedki.  Zeinab (with a ‘b’) Sedki is often confused with Zeinat (with a ‘t’) Sedki the comedienne from the same era who often appeared in films with Ismail Yassine.
The singer in this scene is Abdul Aziz Mahmoud while Emad Hamdi is at the bar getting hammered.

Naima Akef (1952) نعيمة عاكف‎

Naima Akef dances in a scene from the 1952 Egyptian film ‘Al Nimr’ (The Tiger النمر). The film tells the story of Darwish (Zaki Rostom) a nightclub owner who is nice to those around him but is in fact, a drug runner codenamed ‘Tiger’. Naima Akef plays his daughter Faten. The film also starred Lola Sedki as Huda, Farid Shawki as Afifi and Anwar Wajdi as Salah, the policeman.

 

Naima Akef (1949) نعيمة عاكف

Video

This is Egyptian dancer and actress Naima Akef performing in a scene from the 1949 film ‘Lahalibo’ (لهاليبو) in which she starred along with Hassan Fayek, Shukri Sarhan and Suleiman Naguib. The film was directed by Hussein Fawzi who was Naima Akef’s husband between 1953 and 1958.
Trivia: The film has also been released with the tile of ‘The Circus Girl’.

Horeya Hassan (1958) نعيمة عاكف

Usually known as a bellydancer, Horeya Hassan (حورية حسن) shows just what a good singer she was in this scene from the 1958 Egyptian film ‘Ahabek ya Hassan’ (I Love You Hassan أحبك يا حسن). The film starred Shukri Sarhan who’s at the piano and Naima Akef who’s dancing in this clip.  Also starring were Abdel Monem Ibrahim who’s the pyjama wearing drummer, Estefan Rosti, Tawfiq al Daqn and Nadia Nour who was only in a couple of films.
The song Horeya Hassan sings is titled, ‘Min Hobi fik ya Gari’ (With love for you my neighbour). The song was written for this film and its now so popular for bellydancers thanks to the versions on Leila Farid’s cds.
Towards the end of the scene Horeya Hassan looks into Hassan’s room and sees Naima Akef dancing.

Naima Akef retrospective عاكف‎ نعيمة

The commentary of this retrospective of the career of Egyptian bellydancer and actress Naima Akef (1929-1966) is in Arabic but even if you’re not an Arabic speaker, the pictures and clips give an overview of her movie career. It covers many of her most famous dance scenes including ‘Tamr Henna’ in Part 2. If you follow old time Egyptian movies you see famous Egyptian comedienne Zeinat Sedki playing the riq as part of the band in the ‘Tamr Henna’ scenes.
(One day I’ll have the time to do a translation but unfortunately I can’t see it being any time soon.)

 

Naima Akef (1957) نعيمة عاكف‎

Naima Akef (نعيمة عاكف) dances in what’s probably the most famous scene from the 1957 Egyptian film ‘Tamra Henna’ (تمر حنة).  The film also starred Ahmed Ramzy, Seraj Munir, Rushdy Abaza as Hassan, Tamr Henna’s finance and Fayza Ahmed who is the singer in this clip.
Trivia: 1) Tamar hinna, tamra henna or tamerhinna is the name here for tamarind.  The words ‘tamer hina’ mean literally ‘Indian date’.  Supermarkets sell tamarind by the box full and you can eat the fruit straight from the box.  There are big seeds/pips though.
2) If you follow Egyptian classic movies you’ll recognise Zeinat Sedki as the riq player in the band.

Naima Akef (1957) نعيمة عاكف

Naima Akef dancing in the 1957 film ‘Tamr Henna’ (تمر حنة ). Along with Akef the film starred Faiza Ahmed, Rushdi Abaza, Ahmed Ramzi, Siraj Munir and Zeinat Sedki. The story line has similarities to Pigmalion/My Fair Lady in which a lower class girl is transformed into a genteel lady. In ‘Tamr Henna’ however Prof. Higgins is replaced by a rich man with a jealous fiancee who connives with Hassan (Abaza) who’s the fiance of the girl, to shame Tamr Henna publicly and ‘put her in her place’. The scene in this clip shows a party where, unknown to Tamr Henna, her family has been hired to entertain the guests (‘Kali ballik min Zuzu’ anyone?). She is forced to dance for the partygoers thus revealing her true background. The man who dances with her in this scene is her fiance and she is shocked to see him. In later scenes her jealous fiance stabs her but she survives and returns to her roots.