Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Stars of the 1940s: Fairouz Arteen Kaleva and Tahia Carioca vs Shirley Temple



"Lebdancer" posted this on YouTube, along with a useful summary reproduced below (in hopes that Lebdancer won't mind!). I'm learning a melaya leff at the moment and it's interesting to see a little girl do it. Although I can understand why someone might feel uncomfortable about a child doing a dance usually performed as a burlesque on 'dock girls', firstly I would recommend reading Lebdancer's explanation of the scene and secondly I would recommend looking at this similarly-aged scene from USA:



This is "Lebdancer's" explanation of the Fairouz clip (I've taken the liberty of editing it a bit and adding footnotes):

"From the 1951 film Fairouz Hanem (The Lady Fairouz) starring Egyptian child star Fairouz Arteen Kalevan. In this film Fairouz plays the part of a young orphan left a huge fortune when her parents died. The executor of the will is the bald man, played by Hasan Faik, who is a thief and is stealing all of Fairouz's inheritance along with his accomplice (played by Stephan Rosti).

In this scene, Fairouz has just arrived at her elegant home with her new-found friends who are from a sha'abi neighborhood*. There is a high society party going on and the executor doesn't want to allow anyone in who is wearing a melaya leff because it's not considered classy, but Fairouz pushes her way in and informs him that these are her friends and she has invited them.

As they walk across the room the guests begin to murmur and whisper as to how women in melaya leffs found their way into an elegant home? Some turn their backs. Then Fairouz, clad in her very own melaya leff, sings about the wonders of the garment. The lyrics of her song are about how there is no other garment as beautiful as the melaya leff in the entire world. This melaya leff dance is quite different from the later version developed by Reda** for his theater show.

Fairouz also sings about the beauty of the [burqa] and the kasaba (the face covering and the nosepiece). Historically, in Egypt the kasaba was sometimes made of metal, and among the more well-to-do sha'abi women it would sometimes be made of silver or gold.

Taheya Carioca dances with sagat towards the end of the clip while Fairouz sings dressed as a little boy in a galabeya. Taheya Carioca plays the part of the sister of one of the melaya leff-wearing women, and her character works as a dancer at a club. For this latter reason she is not on good terms with her father. She has been hired to dance at this party by the executor.

Actress Fairouz Kalevan is the sister of Nelly, who is famous in Egypt and the middle east for the fawazeer^ that she used to do every year during Ramadan. They are the cousins of another Egyptian actress and dancer, Lebleba, and they are Egyptians of Armenian heritage. Fairouz is alive and well, retired from show business and presently lives in Cairo."

*Sha'abi neighbourhood - an urban area populated by (usually poor) migrants from the country.
** Mahmoud Reda (born 1930) - dancer, choreographer and founder/director of The Reda Troupe. Acknowledged pioneer of Egyptian dance theatre. More: www.faridafahmy.com/history.html
^Fawazeer - An entertainment TV show popular during Ramadan (Muslim festival). In 1958 the first fawazeer in Egypt was a radio quiz show, but it has since evolved into quite an elaborate spectacle. More:
www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/fawazeer-miriam-nostalgic-disappointing-ramadan-quiz-show

More Fairouz here

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