Additional Viewing

Chapter 12—From Baladi to Belly Dance: Rhythm, Dance, and Music in Egypt and Beyond

Audiovisual Resources

The following audiovisual items are of particular relevance to this chapter. Portions or complete versions of these productions may be available via VOD (Video on Demand) providers as well as in their conventional DVD or VHS formats. Please see the Chapter 2 “Audiovisual Resources” section of this Online Learning Center for an extensive list of VOD providers.

Bellydance Superstars. 2004. ARK 21/Firestars, Inc. DVD. 78 mins.

This raqs sharqi/bellydance troupe features American dancers who perform in many different styles, traditional and contemporary. Notable is a Tabla Solo dance by Sonia with tabla accompanist Issam Houshan.  They are also the featured artists in another Bellydance Superstars DVD, The Art of the Drum Solo. The Superstars take the stage live in a third DVD, The Bellydance Superstars Live in Paris at the Folies Bregere.

Between Two Notes = Le blues de l’Orient. 2006. Directed by Florence Strauss. Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada. DVD, 86 min.

Musical road movie that takes filmmaker Florence Strauss from Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to Palestine, Israel, and Egypt. Includes voices of performers such as Umm Kulthum and Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab.

Dances of Egypt. 1991. Associated Researchers of Arabic Folklore (ARAF). VHS. 59 min.

Filmed in rural and urban locations between 1971 and 1988, this video introduces diverse dance styles of Egypt, including some that are no longer being performed. Filmed by dancer Aisha Ali.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad. 2007. Produced and directed by Eddy Moreety and Suroosh Alvi. VBS.TV. DVD, 84 min.

Documentary feature film that follows Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda from the fall of Saddam Hussein to their escape from Iraq. In English and Arabic with English subtitles.

JVC Video Anthology of World Music and Dance: The Middle East & Africa I-II. 1990. Distributed by Rounder Records. Vol. 16-17. VHS

JVC/Smithsonian/Folkways Video Anthology of Music and Dance of Africa: I. 1996. JVC/Smithsonian/Folkways. VHS.

These anthologies feature a number of selections that are of direct relevance to this chapter. Volumes 16 and 17 of the world music and dance anthology feature a traditional Azan, or Islamic call to worship (16-1); a “Bedouin dance” from Tunisia (17-2) and a “belly dance” from Lebanon that both represent raqs sharqi styles; an Egyptian popular song with firqa ensemble accompaniment (17-1); a Sufi “whirling dervish” performance from Turkey; and a Moroccan ma’luf instrumental ensemble example featuring instruments of the takht ensemble. The first part of Volume 1 of the Africa anthology is devoted to Egypt (Uganda and Senegal comprise the remaining sections). It includes a ritual Egyptian zar (zaar) performance (1-4), ghawazi dancing in a street festival (1-3), and an example of “commercial Egyptian folk music” (1-5).

The Stars of Egypt. 1994. Ramzy Music International (U.K.). 7 vols. VHS. 492 mins.

Features historical footage of the greatest Egyptian raqs sharqi dancers. The two tapes of Volume 3 (Part I and Part II) are both dedicated to the artistry of Samya (Samia) Gamal. Produced by Hossam Ramzy and the dancer Aischa. Additional information available at

Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt. 1996. AFD. VHS. 67 min.

This highly acclaimed 1996 documentary explores the intertwined music and life of the iconic Egyptian singer in relation to Egyptian history and politics during a time of crisis and change. Directed by Michal Goldman and narrated by Omar Sharif; based on the biographical research of Virginia Danielson, author of the book The Voice of Egypt (see bibliography in the textbook); in Arabic and English, with subtitles.