Saturday, 19 November 2011

Stars of the 1940s: Houriya Mohamed

Vane is right - yesterday's post was mean spirited. There's no getting away from it and I'm very sorry that I posted while in a bad mood, thereby breaking my own blogging cardinal rule. It's true that Alexandra is far from the worst dancer I've ever seen, and although I personally prefer dancers to wear longer skirts it's her prerogative to wear whatever she likes. The post won't be deleted (though it's pretty tempting), because unfortunately it's unlikely to be the last regrettable post I ever make. Plus, if I hadn't made it I wouldn't have got Vane's feedback. So ... rough with the smooth.

Now that the rough part is over, let's have some smooth.

Houriya Mohamed was one of the first stars of the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema: Edward Said claims that Houriya (indirectly) taught Taheya Carioca to dance. However, as Taheya's star began to rise Houriya and Taheya became bitter rivals - LebDancer's bio info for Houriya claims that either Houriya or her mother once destroyed one of Taheya's costumes prior to a performance, and that the relationship between Taheya and Houriya degenerated so much they wound up in a physical fight. You can read all about such undignified behaviour here.

Bohboh in Baghdad (1942) starred Houriya as Bedour, a Bedouin slave girl rescued from the desert. This is the celebration scene, in which Houriya wears a strikingly simple, modern-looking costume:

And here she is seven years later in Fatima and Marika and Rachel. The plot to this movie sounds a bit like a pub joke - Fatima is Muslim, Marika is Christian and Rachel is Jewish - but in this truly wondrous clip, as good as anything in an MGM musical, Fatima sings a song about "the brown skinned guy" a fortune teller has just predicted she'll meet. The costume is a lot more bling-bling this time:

Although, thanks to the different alphabets, Egyptians often wind up with many variant spellings of their names when they're transliterated into English, LebDancer advises that in Arabic "Houriya" means a beautiful heavenly woman - but Horeyya (as Houriya's name is often spelt) doesn't have any meaning at all. So there you go.


  1. This is more like it - yeah!

  2. Yet another dancer I'd never heard of until you posted about her!

    As someone who can barely manage to move more than one limb at a time, I have endless admiration for someone who can not only dance divinely, but sing while they're doing it!

  3. @Vane: Yep, I'm back on track! *contrite face*

    @Lilith: It's not that I have a huge library to draw on, I just spend too much time online and not enough time practicing ;)