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Published on Aug 1, 2014
Nisaa of St. Louis Presents A Reconstruction of Egyptian Belly Dance At the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries
This reconstruction represents Egyptian belly dance as it would have been performed in the entertainment halls of Cairo at the dawn of the 20th century. It is based on Nisaa’s careful analysis and synthesis of several lines of evidence, including:
1. Textual, photographic, and pictorial sources from the 1870s through the 1920s
2. Film footage of Egyptian ghawazee in the present day
3. Film footage of Egyptian professional dancers in the 1930s
4. Firsthand observation and experience of the Banat Mazin ghawazee dance style
Care was taken to choose musical accompaniment appropriate to the period in question. The accompanying tune, Raqset el-Hawanem (Dance of the Ladies), dates to the 19th century and remains a popular belly dance tune today. The rendition used here was performed by George Dimitri Sawa and his Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble on period-appropriate instruments, including an antique qanoun restored to 19th century specifications based on illustrations in Edward Lane’s Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836).
Belly Dance with Nisaa www.bellydancewithnisaa.com
Special thanks to George Dimitri Sawa for permission to use his rendition of Raqset el-Hawanem www.georgedimitrisawa.com
Thanks to Sahra Kent, Andrea Menning, and Mousa Salameh for providing invaluable support to this project.