Aida Nour in Cairo 1991 in Khaleegi thobe
Dance," Says Aida
A conversation with Aida Nour
by Lynette Harris
Aida Nour came to Southern California to teach a 3-day workshop
in Los Angeles, Gilded Serpent took the opportunity to ask this
master of Egyptian Oriental dance a few questions about her life,
her thoughts, and her plans. Thanks to Nora Assad
and Debbie Lammam
for their translation and editing assistance!
Nour began her dance career at age fourteen by joining
a folkloric company in Alexandria, her hometown. She went on to
join the Reda Troupe of Cairo. Because she was doing
folkloric dance, she had the support of her family and she is
the only performer in her family. In 1981, she left the Reda
troupe and made the transition from folkloric ensemble work to
solo Oriental dance. This was not only in order to advance her
career, but also in order to develop her love of dance and explore
the expressive and communicative possibilities of the Oriental
form. She likes the immediate feedback of the audience and communication
about how she listens to the music, she said that she usually
has an immediate response to a song
and if she likes it, she uses it. She said that she finds it difficult
to use choreography in performance, although when she teaches
she uses choreography in order to structure the material for a
large group. In this way her folkloric
dance training did help her to be a better teacher.
likes improvisation, and says that if a dancer has very good
technique and a good ear for the music she should “just dance.”
Aida believes that oriental dance is about a women’s femininity.
Because each woman has her own
feeling, each one will have her own unique expression. “It comes
from here” she said, as she tapped her chest.
On the subject
of foreigners studying Oriental dance, Aida said that from Japan
to California she has seen non-Egyptians learning Oriental dance
well, that anybody can have the feeling for dance, and that Egyptian
dance gives women femininity. Rather than noting different regional
styles of Oriental dance around the world, she believes that each
dancer has her own individual style.
In Aida Nour’s
career, she has commissioned music from many composers, including
accordionist Wahab el Hassan of Alexandria, Abdel
Raffar, and others. Although none of this music
is yet commercially available, she plans to release it in the
future. She is also working on her life story, reflecting on 32
years of dancing, which she plans to release as a DVD including
pictures from her childhood. She hopes to have this, and the music
CDs, completed within the year.
As for teaching
in the future, Aida is
next heading to Toronto to teach for Yasmina,
to the Stockholm Festival, and then to Brazil
in September. She will produce dance festivals in Cairo in April,
June, and November with the Nile Group. She commented
that Cairo is so big that it could probably hold 50 dance festivals
a year, and there would be no problem between any of those 50
festivals. In addition to this heavy schedule, she is also in
the business of designing and manufacturing dance costumes.
asks to pose with Tracy, Feb 2006
answered some of our random, more personal questions:
- “I have
one son who is 25 years old, but I do not have any grandchildren
yet because my son just got married. No, I am not married to
- “I have
known Yasmina for 29 years. She was the first
person for whom I gave a workshop. In 1981, I was in an Egyptian
festival in Montreal and it was there that we met. I gave her
good feedback about her dance and told her she was good when
I saw her dance in class.”
- We asked
Aida: Why did you ask specifically to be photographed with Tracy
Farmer? She answered: “She has my same complexion; her face
is round—just like my aunt’s face. My mother was Nubian and
Tracy looks like my family.”
there any hierarchy in the Reda troupe, we asked? Was there
any problem working your way up in the troupe? Aida replied:
“Everybody is equal in the Reda troupe; only Farida was
a star. The rumor is not true about skin color being a problem
within the Reda troupe; there were no problems with skin color!”
- We observed,
“You are very fit,” and asked her, “What is your training routine?”
and Aida responded: “I don't train every day because I am
now also a designer every day. My experience here at this workshop
in L.A. is that all of the dancers are good, and they all have
good stamina; yet, I do not even feel tired! I have felt appreciated!”
show in Cairo in 1991
asked about her relationship with Aida, Yamina
adds the following information-
"Aida was here in Toronto in 1982 as part
of an Egyptian Tourism promotion campaign. She performed
at the Sheraton Hotel for a week with a great band and
another folklore dancer named Hosni. The night
club I was performing in called Nefertiti invited Aida
to come and perform. She saw me dance when she came to the club.
At this point in time I had no teacher. In fact, I was just about
to give up Bellydancing because no teachers in Toronto wanted
to teach me and they were in general not welcoming me to the scene.
Aida was very encouraging with me, gave me confidence and the
courage to continue. She gave me 3 of her constumes as gifts and
later sent a Shamadan from Mohamed Ali St. She did not
teach formerly at that time. I went to her hotel room everyday
during the week she was here and we practised in front of the
mirror on the dresser. The shimmy was the first movement I learned
from her. She did not speak a word of English and I spoke no Arabic
but being so close beside her, I just tried to breath her in.
She is the reason I became dedicated to Egyptian style."
workshop with Little Egypt in Los Angeles had about 50 participants.
In Toronto at Yasmina she sold out with 150 students!
Sunday workshop participants, Feb 2006 in Los Angeles
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for other possible viewpoints!
Streets of Cairo- Egyptian Rhythm, Language
and Dance by Keti Sharif
streets are much like its dance – streams of freestyle movement
guided by intuition rather than rules. There are no 'principles'
as such in both circumstances – it’s the organic-ness
of Egyptian life that creates order in chaos.
Cairo 2005 How to Eat,
Drink, Sleep, and Breathe Raqs Sharqi, Part Two of Four-Dance
Lessons by Andrea
Egypt, if a woman is only going to wear one item of make-up, it
will be black eyeliner.
How MECDA Began Part II,
To Whom It May Concern by Mish Mish El-Atrash
was very curious to hear what Fairuz had to say about how M.E.C.D.A.
began, as I was one of the original dancers to organize it.
Loay Dahbour: Kuwaiti Drum
Pro Interview by Yosifah Rose
addition to teaching us about drum solos, Loay also took some
time to share with us his valuable insights as a musician after
working for the past thirteen years with hundreds of San Francisco
Bay Area Bellydancers.
a Muslim-American Political Cartoonist Weighs-In,
by Khalil Bendib
Try as I may, while reviewing the infamous Islam-o-phobic
Danish caricatures, I fail to discern in them any clear political
statement other than the questionable assertion that Islam equals