Kouka (1953) كوكا

This is Najia Ibrahim Bilal who’s better known as Kouka (1917-1979). In this scene she sings, dances and uses a sword. The scene is from the 1953 Egyptian film ‘Gharam Bosayna‘ (The Love of Bosayna غرام بثينة) in which she starred along with Yahia Shahine (1917-1994) and Aziza Helmy (1929-1994) who are both in the armchairs in this scene. On the floor playing the drum is the irrepressible Wedad Hamdi. Also starring was Abdul Ghani Qamar.

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.