Belly dance history – Egyptian dance in the 1940s, 50s and beyond

Belly dance is a style of dance that comes from Egypt. Really it’s just Egyptian dance. In the west we call it ‘belly dance’, however to Egyptians and Middle Easterners it’s just dancing – they don’t call it ‘belly dance’ or ‘oriental dance’. Because belly dance is an Egyptian art form, its history is based in Egyptian cultural traditions (particularly notable in Saidi and Baladi styles) as well as the Egyptian dancers that paved the way for the art form. During the Golden Era of dance in Egypt, the art form was incredibly rich, with dancers that were highly artistic and also individual. Belly dancers such as Naima Akef, Samya Gamal, Nagwa Fouad and Taheyya Karioka contributed much to the art and the history of belly dance would not be the same without them.

Belly dance history - Famous Egyptian belly dancers

Egyptian dancers – Naima Akef, Samya Gamal, Nagwa Fouad, Taheyya Karioka


Why belly dancers dance barefoot

To give an example – all belly dancers used to dance with shoes until one night Samya Gamal danced barefoot. While she was dancing, one of her shoes broke or slipped off, so she ripped off the other one and continued dancing barefooted. The next evening all of the dancers in the Cairo nightclubs danced barefoot too! Today this is the norm.


First drum solo

Another tidbit of belly dance history – The first drummer to ever play a live or recorded Tabla Solo was Ahmed Hammouda. He was the Tabla player in Nagwa Fouad‘s band, and she was one of Egypt’s most talented dancers. Today, many drummers still copy Ahmed’s style in their own Drum Solos.


Belly dance history – Famous Egyptian belly dancers

To learn about the Egyptian dancers from the 1940s, 50s and beyond, see links to their biographies below. There you can read about each dancer’s artistic career, her contribution to the art form, and even her personal life. It’s a fascinating view of Egyptian dance history through the lives of Egypt’s belly dance stars.

Biography of Naima Akef

Biography of Samya Gamal

Biography of Nagwa Fouad

Biography of Taheyya Karioka

Biography of Hager Hamdy

Biography of Badeia Masabny


Belly dance history – The Golden Era of Egyptian Dance

Here’s a blog article written by Serena Ramzy where she discusses the Golden Era, a very special time in Egyptian Dance history. She shares her thoughts on the dance styles of the dancers from that time period, and how we can learn from them today.

The Stars of the Golden Era of Egyptian Dance – Serena Ramzy