Follow Me

Close

“Nadia Gamal is the greatest cabaret oriental dancer in the Middle East…she expresses pure spirituality with her arm movements but then those hips begin to move and she pulls you right into the earth!” ~Ibrahim Farrah

This weeks #TBT post is inspired by my interview with Aszmara! When I asked Aszmara ” if you could meet any dancer from the past, who would it be and why?” Her answer was, Nadia Gamal, although she actually had met her before- lucky duck!

I know it’s super late, but I had to really go into detective mode to get some info on our girl Nadia. I even searched for old Arabesque articles on EBay and I found one! Hehehe….ANYWAY… here’s the deal with Nadia:

Nadia Gamal was born Maria Carydias in Alexandria, Egypt, 1937. Her mother was Italian and her father, Greek. Nadia first began dancing in her mother’s cabaret act which performed at the Casino Opera in Cairo (opened by Badia Masabni), she performed European folk dances. Being part of her mother’s act allowed Nadia to study many different types of dance; ballet,modern,jazz, tap and acrobatics. However, her passion was for oriental dance ( Nadia didn’t like to call it “belly dance”). At the age of 14, she got her big break. While on tour with her mom’s act in Lebanon, one of the oriental dancers in the group became ill, and after proving that she could fill the role, she was allowed to do so. And the rest is history! …but I’ll tell you more anyway :p

Nadia’s career took off and she was featured in numerous Egyptian and Indian films. In 1968, she was the first oriental dancer to perform at The Baalbeck Festival in Lebanon. It’s a festival that celebrates world music and dance – both classical and modern. It’s held in an ancient Roman acropolis, which is pretty cool. She also danced at the Cairo Opera House, for King Hussein, and the Shah of Iran. She toured the world – Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin and North America.

read more

“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.

read more