I’ve blogged before about how the film industry loves to have “harem” scenes where an attractive woman “belly dances” for the Sultan. They’re completely inaccurate and silly, historically and culturally speaking, and have created a lot of confusion among people in regards to the purpose and use of belly dance. See my post Bellydance: A Disclaimer.
That said, I do think that these vintage belly dancing harem scenes from old movies are actually very fun to watch in a kitschy sort of way. And sometimes the costumes are really amazing or give me some great ideas. Plus I think it reminds me of the glamorous song and dance movies from the 40′s that my mother and I used to watch together. But instead of Marlyn Monroe or Rita Hayworth it’s belly dance!
Tonight I was browsing Bhuz and came across a video posted of Samia Gamal that I had not seen before. It’s a fun clip to watch, and I feel kitschy, so I thought I would share a few new videos I found of vintage harem scenes! First up, the Samia Gamal clip I just mentioned.
Here is another “harem scene” type vintage video with Naima Akef. As usual we have the beautiful woman dancing while a man lounges nearby ogling her. She does a lot of kicking, traveling and spinning. She does one move where she kicks her foot up then uses the momentum from the kick to spin around, then puts the foot down and spins smoothly around again on her toes. I might have to try it.
Yet another harem scene, but this time the dancer clearly has no dance experience! At one point she does some light pole dancing! She is quite beautiful, though. Her blue skirt is really nice and I like the jingling sound that I assume is supposed to be coming from her.
In this clip from a movie set in Ancient Egypt an Egyptian Queen dances to keep the interest of her lover. I found this video particularly interesting because the cape she dances with is very similar to a modern dance prop called Isis Wings, only without the sticks we use to keep the cape extended. The fabric even has light pleating! I wonder if the dancer who invented Isis Wings was inspired by this movie? She soon takes it off and uses it like a large half circle veil and does some interesting things with it. She then discards the veil and does some rather aggressive hip work that I can only imagine was painful!
Lastly here is a very colorful dance scene that is set in the 60′s. The dance floor is full of dancers in colorful pastel costumes. Even the serving girl is dressed like a belly dancer. Then the stage clears and out comes a solo dancer draped in a veil which she quickly discards. She is wearing a GORGEOUS gold costume that I really want! Her dancing is not that great is is very much the “come hither” type but I forgive her cause that sparkly is to die for! (If you haven’t figured it out yet dear readers, it’s really all about the costumes!) Out come two more dancers in similar bra/belt sets that are dripping in sparkly gold fringe. Ah… I gotta make me one of those vintage style bedlahs!
As you can see, the “dance for the sultan” scene was very common in old movies and had a big part in shaping what the average person thought belly dance was. As much fun as these clips are, they aren’t authentic. They’re just for fun.
That’s all the videos I have for now. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did!