Samia

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Wandering around the internet to see what's new, I found the following. Not Samia Gamal's finest moment as a dancer, but still interesting.

 

Tourbeau

Active member
I will cut Samia some slack out of the possibility that acting was involved here. Without knowing the story, maybe she's supposed to be somewhat untrained as a dancer and angry here...in this dive bar where she is starring in a major theatrical production?

But this reminds me of something that has been rolling around in the back of my thoughts for some time. First, let me say I like Samia Gamal. I enjoy her performances. I think her dancing brought a joyous elegance to her music, and I wish someone would discover some lost footage of her performing live when she was younger. The few live clips I've found online are from later in her career like these from 1984 when she was in her early 60's and had a brief revival

عودة الفنانة سامية جمال للرقص عام ١٩٨٤

سامية جمال وسمير صبري - يا جميل يا جميل
https://m.facebook.com/ذكريات-من-عمر-فات-160181587988546/videos/سامية-جمال-وسمير-صبري-يا-جميل-يا-جميل/897561793962820/


And this show at a different hotel but from presumably around the same time, since she's wearing the costume depicted in the ad in the first clip and performing with the same singer, Samir Sabri.

أغنية تعالى | سمير صبرى وسامية جمال | فندق السلام

FWIW, I spent quite a bit of time looking for a clip of Samia dancing to "Ya gameel" in an old movie, but I couldn't find one. i found two clips of Farid singing it (one B&W, one later in color), but she's not in them.

But here she is with Farid, dancing to "Ma oulli we oltello" in a variation of the same costume from the GIF in the other thread

ما قالى و قولتله - فريد الأطرش

And "Ma nakhbish aleik," if you want to compare how her dancing evolved.

فريد الأطرش سامية جمال ما نخبيش عليك

(If you're curious, the song while they are taking bows is "Sukar sukar helwa al donya sukar," a duet Samir Sabri sang with Shadia, so good for him that at least for a few minutes at the end, he got to crawl out from under Farid al Atrash's massive shadow.)

Anyway, my first thought is that Samia's light-blue dress is the Godzilla of Fringemonsters. How much did that thing weigh?

Next, I find it interesting that her dancing is less "distinctively Samia" when she doesn't have those circle skirts to play with. In some ways, I actually like it better. I haven't tried to do a side-by-side of the two old movie clips that match the songs in the Hyatt el Salam show, but her musical interpretation feels richer to me when she's not doing as much skirtwork, even if I suspect the choreographies aren't substantially different.

Which brings me to the point I've been ruminating on...Samia Gamal is a very intangible dancer, and by that I mean what she does seems very straightforward, but when someone tries to copy it, they always come up a bit short for me. I didn't want to post this in the other thread, because I'm not trying to single anybody out. Pretty much every clip I've seen on YouTube where somebody is doing a tribute to her or trying to explain how to dance like her has this problem for me. I could call it the "Bob Dylan Effect." No matter how talented you are, no matter how much attention to detail and sincere admiration and affection for the subject you bring to your imitation, it always feels a little like a parody.

Seriously, find a clip of anybody doing a Samia Gamal piece, and right before you click on it, think, "Ugh. I hate Samia Gamal. She's always just swanning and swishing around with that stupid smile on her face. She's not even really dancing half of the time. I could just punch her!” and see if you don't understand what I'm talking about. It's not about Samia Gamal herself. It's when dancers try to copy her. There's always a little too much something and not enough something else. Is it that other dancers put too much oomph into her movements, especially those little chest roll ups she'd do for emphasis? Too much angle in their body angles? Not enough internal connection to the music (because Samia was basically mainlining Farid's creative energy in some of those old film performances)? I can't quite put my finger on it, but something always feels a little off to me.

Although the more I think about this, maybe the problem is not specific to Samia Gamal. I don't recall being particularly impressed with any imitations of Souheir Zaki or Dina, either, because those always feel like when dancers try to copy them, they grab for the lowest hanging fruit (their signature moves) and hang on for dear life, too.

Perhaps the problem goes back to our lack of pedagogical rigor. Most teachers don't expect students to analyze important dancers--heck, some of them don't even expect students to watch them--so when a dancer sets out to do a tribute piece, they might never have even thought about what makes up that dancer's style, and they're left to their own observations and whatever information they can scrounge up online of who-knows-what quality. This differs from other artistic disciplines where, in order to be considered sufficiently knowledgeable, your education involves analysis ("Write a paper on Emily Dickinson's use of meter" "Perform a jazz solo in the style of Charlie Parker" "Give a presentation on Van Gogh's use of light" or whatever makes sense in your creative field.) We simply don't have those expectations--not on students, not on teachers.

I'm not saying every dancer should study like they're in graduate school, though. Obviously, casual hobbyists who just want a little exercise and fun don't need to. But if you consider yourself fit to mentor advanced students? If you want to teach workshops on the international circuit or make commercial instructional videos? If you've been a serious hobbyist for more than ten years and you consider belly dancing to be a part of your identity? Isn't it weird if this level of academic thoughtfulness has never been part of your educational experience, after you've probably spent many thousands of dollars in pursuit of proficiency?

But back to Samia...This clip interests me, because when the music speeds up at the end, she opts not to shimmy like crazy, which is what many dancers would do.

رقصة سامية جمال من فيلم سكر هانم
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I love Samia, always have, and absolutely agree with you that the fault in the original clip lay with the production requirements and not the dancer. It happened a lot- emphasis on the theatrical effect and not on the dance.

Thanks for all the clips and the thoughtful discourse accompanying them. I had contemplated making an "all things Samia" thread as sheer self-indulgence, and appreciate the great start to it. Samia's old movies were among the first belly dance films I ever saw, long, long before YouTube made everything so readily available. One of my teachers had a small collection of old films on reel to reel that some of us would get together and watch after class, usually fast-forwarding to the dance clips. If I had to choose a single importance influence on my own dance-self, it would be Samia and my teacher who shared the films and who'd obviously herself been influenced by Samia.
 

hippyhips

Member
I do love samia. I think I understand when you talk about people imitating her. IMO, when I see people doing a golden era Samia, it’s always doing a 50s Samia caricature “style”. Rather than the spirit of it. Like people who dress in modern 1950s style and it not “quite” being the actual 50s, but rather a derivative of it, and proclaiming they like 50s style of dress (no shade to it, but it’s a caricature of what the 50s are). Not to say this people are not good dancers (they’re amazing) but I understand your point of “not quite on the button”
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I do love samia. I think I understand when you talk about people imitating her. IMO, when I see people doing a golden era Samia, it’s always doing a 50s Samia caricature “style”. Rather than the spirit of it. Like people who dress in modern 1950s style and it not “quite” being the actual 50s, but rather a derivative of it, and proclaiming they like 50s style of dress (no shade to it, but it’s a caricature of what the 50s are). Not to say this people are not good dancers (they’re amazing) but I understand your point of “not quite on the button”
I get you. Retro is cool but it's "not quite on the button."
 

Tourbeau

Active member
It's a shame this isn't in color so we could see her costume better. Between the drape on the bra (I can't decide if it makes her bra look more like sunglasses or a moustache) and that flappy flap on the skirt, that costume is...something. And the part around 3:35 where she's so close to him and doing that handwork so close to her body must have seemed pretty spicy to audiences at the time.

نسخة جديدة لأغنية خذي قلبي للموسيقار فريد الاطرش والفنانة سامية جمال


The person who uploaded the clip says this and another number are usually cut from broadcast of this movie. I could see this one maybe offending somebody, but Samia doesn't even dance in the other clip.
 
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