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Kitty was born in 1927 in Alexandria, Egypt to Greek parents. She was famous for her fusion of western and oriental style and she danced in almost 50 films! Unfortunately, that’s about all the info I could find on this vintage beauty.

WHY  I <3 HER:

Her positive playful energy and her smile 🙂 of course she has some killer moves too 😉

I know it’s technically Friday…but’s #TBT is inspired by my interview with Alia Thabit! Ibrahim, or Bobby, as he was called by his family and friends, was one of Alia’s first teachers and mentors. In fact, he was a mentor to many in NYC and around the world.

So Here’s The Deal: 

In 1939, Robert Ibrahim Farrah was born in Western Pennsylvania to Lebanese parents. When he was just a little boy, he would dance and perform at family parties. Cute tidbit, Farrah considered his mother to be his first dance teacher 🙂 Ibrahim carried this love of dance with him into adulthood.

In 1957, Ibrahim attended college at Penn State and earned his bachelor’s in American History. A love of history would play a huge part in Ibrahim’s life, although… not American.

After graduating Farrah took a 6 week trip to Lebanon and then moved to Washington D.C.

It was in D.C. that Ibrahim met dancer Adriana, who encouraged him and became his mentor. Farrah began performing at places like The Syrian Club, he also began teaching and was a drummer + M.C. at Club Suez.

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This weeks #TBT was recommended to me by my friend Raissa. Ragaa has been one of Raissa’s favorites for years, and it’s easy to see why! Ragaa’s dancing is very dynamic, smooth, and seductive all at the same time. I think she has a very unique energy – definitely a dancer to learn from!

There isn’t much information out there about Ragaa, but I did find some tidbits. Ragaa, an Egyptian dancer, began her career in the Akef Circus, and later she worked in the Helw Circus as an acrobat. In the first video of the playlist below you will see her do a killer backbend – definitely circus status!

Ragaa was featured in many films as both an actress and a dancer throughout the 50’s. On several occasions she danced in a duo with her sister Awatef Youssef.

Later in her life Ragaa formed a production company with her husband.

Enjoy TBB’s Ragaa Youssef YouTube Playlist!


“Archaic dances still influence our moving center, for they are rooted in the cosmic memory of our planet. They may disappear into past but always find their way back to us through research work and spiritual identification.”

So Here’s The Deal: 

It’s hard to know where to start with Nelly Mazloum. She was an intellectual, an entrepreneur, an actress, a choreographer, a dancer, a teacher of modern, ballet, egyptian folkloric, and traditional oriental dance.

Where was Nelly from?

Nelly-Catherine Mazloum-Calvo was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1929. She was of Greek and Italian descent. Her father was a jeweler from Naples, Italy and her mother was a pianist from Anatolia. Her parents owned a hotel across the street from the Alhambra theatre.

How Nelly began to <3 Dance!

When Mazloum was just 2 years old she suffered from poliomyelitis, or paralysis of the legs. With lots of hard work from her pediatrician and his wife, who was a ballet teacher, Mazloum was able to walk again at age 4. And then there was no stopping her! “Dance became her passion and the very symbol of life.”

How It All Started: 

She officially began her dance career at age 5 and was called a prodigy child by the media. In 1939 she landed her first film role in a greek film, I Prosfygopoula (The Refugee Girl).

Nelly performed modern dance and ballet at the Casino Opera run by Badia Masanabi (click here to read more about Badia!). Although she danced in the early afternoon, she would stay into the evening to watch Samia Gamal (Read up on Samia!) and Tahia Carioca (Learn more about Tahia!).

Nelly’s golden years were the 1940’s. During this time she performed and acted in approximately 17 films. She performed oriental dance in only a few, Shahrazad (1941) and Soliman’s Ring (1946).

In 1947 she established a ballet school in Cairo for girls from elite society. She also trained dancers for the National Opera House in Cairo.

At 19 years old, in 1948, Nelly was named the Prima Ballerina at the Royal Opera House in Cairo.

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Although there isn’t much info out there on Ms. Zizi Mustafa I gathered some tidbits for you, just to give you an idea of how cool she was:

  • Zizi was born in 1943 in Cairo, Egypt.
  • She worked as an actress and a dancer. Some of her famous acting roles were in  “The Pickpocket” (1963), “The Wife of an Important Man” (1987), and “Ragel Wa Sitt Settat” (2007).
  • She performed in many clubs including Cave du Rois in London (Gilded Serpant).
  • Managed by Safaa Farid the last 9 years of her career.
  • Could do up to 18 shows a night. Wowwwwwwww…. tired just thinking about that…
  • Her daughter is Mina Shalabi, a famous Egyptian actress

What the internet is missing in info about this incredible dancer, it definitely makes up for in videos! Watch the below and get inspired!!!! 

Watch Zizi get her groove on! Click here!

and here!

and here!!!!!

Happy Thursday!



Helena was born in Greece on the tiny island of Hydra (Ydra) in 1948. She was immersed in Middle Eastern music by default— Greece had been ruled by Turkey for hundreds of years and she felt this influence growing up. She came to the US when she was 8 via NYC but her family settled in LA.

Due to the growing Greek community there at the time, dance clubs and restaurants were opening more and more— in these clubs is where Helena really starting getting into Raqs Sharqi— she watched used to dancers like Antoinette and Aisha Ali, mostly Americans, with her mentor FoFo De Milo.

She fell in love with this dance during her adolescence in LA.
FoFo De Milo (a Greek-American entertainer, dancer, owner of Greek Village Restaurant in Hollywood) was a distant relative of Helena’s and she pretty much took Helena under her wing— she was “discovered” by her from family gatherings and FoFo offered to train her at her studio.

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“Art,” she said, “is not linked with age or nationality; it is linked with creation and presence and if the artist can give and enjoy, she must continue to perform.”


We can’t believe we haven’t done a TBT post on this beauty yet! She’s a legend in the belly dance community and a true artist.

Nagwa, whose birth name is Awatef Mohammed El Agamy, was born in 1943 in Alexandria Egypt. Her father was Egyptian and her mother was Palestinian.

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Mona El Said was discovered at a popular disco called Triang A Go Go in Cairo. It was there that Leila Murad told her, “You should dance, because you should be an artist.” That was all Mona needed to hear. She began dancing professionally at 13. Due to her fathers great disapproval of her dancing, Mona left Egypt in 1970 and moved to Lebanon to be able to pursue her dream of becoming a famous dancer.  She fulfilled her dream dancing in Beirut at the best clubs.

Mona found her way back to Cairo in 1975 as a dance star. Her fame, talent, and originality got her gigs at the most upscale Cairo hotels. As mentioned on her website, Mona highly disapproves of counting music saying that it stops you from feeling the music. She “focuses on feeling and emotion, new, innovative movement and creates magic on the stage with her energy.” Mona also notes that is important to listen to the speed of the music and not speed up unless the music calls for it.

Mona’s command of the stage and her audience and her regal presence earned her the nick name of “ Princess of Raks Sharki,” from non other than Tahia Carioca. Egyptian newspapers and magazines nick named her “Sa’mraa El Nile” or “The Bronze of the Nile.”

Aside from dancing in clubs and hotels Mona starred in seven Egyptian films and was featured in many others.

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We weren’t able to find munch info on this dancer but found this cool excerpt from an old publication:

“Ella Lola was born Sept. 2, 1883, in Boston, and made her first appearance as a dancer at the age of eleven years, and by her clever work has steadily come to the fore, until now she takes rank among the best in her class. She has been featured at various times with road companies, and has met with success at the leading vaudeville houses through the country.” – The New York Clipper, 19 April 1902, page 167.

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