Nariman Aboud (Lebanon) ناريمان عبود

This is a short piece by Lebanese dancer Nariman Aboud (ناريمان عبود). The clip’s from a Lebanese tv game show. Nariman wears a red bedlah and in this clip she performs with a troupe of debke dancers .

Samira Tawfik سميرة توفيق

Video

The beautiful voice of Lebanese singer Samira Tawfik. Born Samira Cremona in Beirut, Lebanon in 1935, the story is that her talent was first discovered by a musician who heard her singing as she sat perched up a tree.
Samira Tawfik struggled for recognition in her home country early in her career. After a move to Jordan she became well known for her songs on Jordanian Radio, recording her first song, “Meskin ya kalbi Yama Tlawaat” (Poor heart, how you suffered). When the question of adopting a stage name arose, Egyptian musician Taoufik Bayoumi said “Ettaoufik min Allah” (Your success will come from God) and as a result, she adopted the stage surname Tawfik (‘Taoufik’) which means ‘success’ in Arabic. She has appeared in several movies including “Al Badaouia Al Ashiqa” (The Bedouin Girl in Love, 1963), directed by famous Egyptian director Niazi Mustafa.

Samara

Born in Baghdad the capital of Iraq, Samara moved to Beirut, Lebanon in the early 1980s as a student. There, she took dance lessons from famous bellydancer Nadia Gamal. The story is that Nadia Gamal asked Samara, ‘Do you want to be a dancer or do you just want the money?’ When Samara replied that she wanted to learn to dance properly, Nadia Gamal encouraged her to practice hard and develop her own personal style.
Samara made her name in Lebanon being most popular during the mid-1980s. However, the ‘Fanoos’ website is unabashed in describing Samara as ‘…an average dancer with boring tableaux’. The site continues with a bit of background, “In 1986, she (Samara) became a mother and had to shortly stop dancing or making appearances. Because of problems with her spouse Tarek Osman, which ended up in a divorce, her career was also put on hold and she disappeared for a long while before making a weak comeback in 2008. Samara was however busy giving private dance classes and opening belly dance institutes in all countries of the Gulf, and in 1997 she opened her first Academy in Brazil.” There are holes in this backstory that we could shoot pumpkins through but there you go…..
Samara’s rise to fame seems to have been thanks to her connection with Simon Asmar, I guess you could say he was the Lebanese Simon Cowell of the time. Asmar developed talented artists, not only bellydancers but singers too, and showcased them via his tv talent show ‘Studio el Fann’. He also either directed or produced many of the Lebanese tv game shows where bellydancers or singers performed. The tradition continues as Asmar’s son Bashir has worked as a producer’s assistant on the Lebanese tv bellydance competition called ‘Hezzi Ya Nawaem’. For those who’ve never seen the show, its like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ but with bellydancers only.

Kawakeb (1964) سميرة توفيق

This scene is from the 1964 Lebanese film titled ‘Hasna al Badia ‘ (حسناء البادية The Desert Beauty).  The dancer wearing the red and black dress is Lebanese dancer/actress Kawakeb (كواكب) and the ‘baddie’ in black at the end of the scene is played by Nadia Gamal who did not dance in this film.
The film starred Samira Tawfik as Hala (the girl on the swing) who’s thought to be unable to walk.  In this scene she discovers that she can walk when she sees that the evil flute player is about to blow a poison dart her way.  He also has a ‘moustache incident’ but never mind that, LOL.
Trivia: The phrase ‘al badia’ comes from the same root as bedouin.

Nadia Gamal (1973) نادية جمال

This is Nadia Gamal dancing in a scene from the 1973 Syrian film ‘Mesk wa Anbar’ (Musk and Amber مسك وعنبر ). The film starred Syrian comedians Duraid Laham and Nihad Kalai along with Egyptian actors Nabila Obeid, Ahmed Ramzy and Mohamed Reda (the actor not the dancer).

Taroub (1968) طروب

This is Lebanese singer Taroub performing the song ‘Kadouka al Mayyas’ or ‘Addouka al Mayass'(المياس قدك) in a scene from the 1969 Lebanese/Turkish film ‘Essabat al Nissa’ (Gang of Women عصابة النساء). The bellydancer may be Taroub’s real life sister Mayada who was also an actress and occasional dancer. Can anyone confirm?
The film starred Turkish action man and heartthrob Cüneyt Arkin as Murad and Said el Moghrabi as Murad’s perpetually frightened offsider. Also starring was Lebanese singer Sabah, Egyptian comedian Ismail Yassin and there was also a cameo appearance by Yousef Wehbi.
Those who know heaps about the origins of Arabic and Turkish music tell me that the tune Taroub sings was originally composed by Iraqi born Mullah Othman al Musli (1854-1923) (الملا عثمان الموصلي). The tune’s still very popular in the Middle East – there’s a Turkish version of the same song titled ‘Ada Sahillerinde Bekliyorum’ and a Greek version too. If you watch old episodes of the Lebanese tv show ‘Jar al Amar’ (the show with the b/w check floor) the same song is sung by Syrian born Sabah Fakhri who made it his own. There’s also an updated version performed by Lebanese singer Melissa.
Now, back to the film which was shot in 1967-1968. As it was a joint Lebanese/Turkish venture, it was dubbed into Turkish and released there in 1968 with the title of ‘Bes Atesli Kadin’ or ‘Atesli delikanli’. In the Turkish version Cüneyt Arkin is very much ‘The Star’. Sabah’s songs were still in Arabic though. Izmir born actress Hülya Darcan starred as Ayda in the Turkish version in which many of Sabah’s acting scenes have been removed and Hülya Darcan’s inserted in order to make the film seem more ‘local’. Though this film was directed by Egyptian born Farouk (Frank) Agrama, in order to get around local quota requirements in Turkey, the Turkish version has the director’s name given as Seyfettin Tiryaki. The film was released in Egypt in 1969.
Trivia: Frank Agrama emigrated to the US and went on to direct many horror films. He’s described by the BRW (Business Review Weekly) as “…a gregarious, Egyptian-born B-movie producer turned TV distributor.” Frank Agrama was also involved in the Berlusconi tax fraud investigation in Italy. Yes, this man gets around!
Thanks again to Dr Kiss at the Horror Movie Forum. What Dr Kiss doesn’t know about his chosen genre, isn’t worth knowing.

Howaida al Hachem (Lebanon) هويدا الهاشم

The dancer in this clip is Howaida al Hachem (هويدا الهاشم) aka Howaida Hachem, Howaida Hashem, Hwyda al Hatchem etc etc. Howaida was popular in Lebanon in the 1980-90s and is of the same era as Samara, Dani Boustros and Amani who often performed at the same venues. The clip is filmed in a Beirut nightclub and in this clip she wears a gold bedlah with a leopard print skirt and veil. Howaida made many tv appearances on LBC (Lebanon Broadcasting Corp) and along with her shows at nightclubs, weddings and parties, built a career that focused on performing long, intricate drum solos. And she was good. The drum solos often ended with a death defying Turkish drop which she performed while wearing high heels!
Trivia: I understand that after retiring in the early 2000s she married and now lives in Cyprus.