When Did It Happen?
The Dance and World Events

Middle East


North America



4000 BCE-500 BCE


Drawings of Ancient Egyptian dance. (These were not the ungainly "walk like an Egyptian" shtick) 1



Muhammad’s lifetime 2




Arab conquest of Spain and southern France 2




Ottoman Empire 2


1793 (USA)


Independence for USA

1798 (Egypt)


Napoleon occupies Egypt 2

1834 (Egypt)


Muhammad `Ali banished female dancers from Cairo. 3


1851 (UK)


Crystal Palace Exposition (London) included MED – eg Tunisian 4


1867 (France)


Paris Exposition included Middle Eastern dancers and musicians. 4

1871 (Egypt)


Aida performed in Cairo Opera house. The accompanying ballet introduced the "Pharaonic style" of dance based on misinterpretation of tomb paintings.5


1876 (USA)


First known MED in the US – at Philadelphia (at the Centennial Celebration)5


1893 (USA)


Colombian Trade Fair and Exposition ("Chicago World’s Fair") – Sol Bloom is sometimes credited with coining the term "belly dance". 6, 7, 23


1894 (USA)


Oldest known film record of MED. Oldest surviving film is 1895. Taken by Thomas Edison.8


1896 (France)


Oscar Wilde’s Salomé opened in Paris – first connection of Salome & Seven Veils.9


1901 (France)


Dancers wearing shamadan headgear photographed in an exhibition in Paris 10


1909-1912 (France)


The Ballet Russe performed six "Oriental Ballets" in Paris which were to influence western fashion and perceptions of the East for decades.11

1920s (Egypt)


Zouba el Klobatiyya and Shafiyya el Koptiyya (Shafî’a il-IbTiyya) popularized shamadan so it became de rigueur in the zeffa.3, 12

1922 (Egypt)


Tutankhamun's tomb's official opening

1923 (Turkey)


Turkish Republic (Kemel Ataturk) 2

1926 (Egypt)


Badîa`a Masabni opens her nightclub (Sâla) in Cairo 14. In 1951 Badîa`a skipped to Lebanon to avoid a huge back tax bill.24 (Badîa`a is believed to be a major influence in the Westernization of the dance and the origin of the term "raqs sharqi"5)

1932 (Iraq)


Iraq independence 2

1934 (Egypt)


First Egyptian film studio opens14

1932 (Saudi Arabia)


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia established 2

1943 (Lebanon)


Lebanese independence 2

1948 (Palestine)


Israel declares its independence 2

1952 (Egypt)


Egyptian Revolution deposes King Faruq;

Rejection of things Turkish including pantaloons and karsilama. 13

Badîa`a Masabni’s former nightclub burned down; clamp down on "belly dancers"; folk dance elevated.14

1959 (Egypt)


Souher Zaki was the first dancer to perform to the music of Oum Kalthoum and did so on Egyptian TV 15

1959 (Egypt)


Ali and Mahmoud Reda form the Reda company. 16

1964 (Egypt)


Reda Troupe is subsidized by the Egyptian government and becomes a national troupe.17

1966 (Egypt)


Naima Akef (b.1939) dies 18


1968 (USA)


Bal Anat formed by Jamila Salimpour19 (first troupe of what Morocco would describe as "American Tribal")


1969 (USA)


Bal Anat introduce dancing with snakes 19


1971 (USA)


Bal Anat introduce dancing with swords 19


1974 (USA)


Robert and Lynn Zalot found Habibi 20


1980 (USA)


Masha Archer (ex-student of Jamila Salimpour) introduces the Indian choli as part of the costume.21


1980s (USA)


Carolena Nericco dances with Masha Archer 21


1990 (USA)


FCBD first performance for MED community. Numerous other ATS troupes/styles can be traced back to FCBD – eg Gypsy Caravan and Ultra Gypsy (and hence Masha Archer and Jamila Salimpour) 21

1973 (Egypt)


Registration of dancers via muSannafât ("dance police") 14

1975 (Egypt)


Oum Kalthoum (b.1898) – the voice of Egypt – dies and is mourned by millions 18



First Sydney Middle Eastern Festival

1990 (Lebanon)


Nadia Gamal (b.1937) dies 18



Gulf War 2(the economic fallout was one factor in the decline of the Egyptian dance scene )13


1992 (NZ)

MEDANZ incorporated in New Zealand

1994 (Egypt)


Samia Gamal (b.1924) dies 18




Bobby Farah dies 22

1999 (Egypt)


Tahiya Carioca (b.1920) dies 18

2003 (Egypt)


Nelly Mazloum dies 18



First MEDANZ Festival (held in Christchurch)

1 Irena Lexová, Ancient Egyptian Dances
2 Arthur Goldschmidt, A Concise History of the Middle East
3 Karin van Nieuwkerk, "A Trade Like Any Other"
4 Jamila Salimpour, Habibi Vol 12, No 4 p 5
5 Dr Mo Geddawi, lecture 2003
6 Morocco, MED List 11 Jul 2004 "As to the fact that Oriental and other folk dances of the Near & Middle East & North Africa were presented at the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia in 1876, there are drawings, paintings, accounts, etc. to be found in many antique chronicles of that time: books, newspapers, gazettes, etc. Maybe even a few silver & mercury-coated glass-plate negative photos"
7 Donna Carlton, "Looking for Little Egypt"
8 Marilee Nugent, Habibi Vol 19, No 3 pp 46-51
9 Andrea Deagon, Habibi Vol 19, No 2 pp10-25
10 Andrea Deagon, MED List 27/1/03
11 Laurel Victoria Gray, Habibi Vol 19, No 1 pp44-47
12 Morocco, Habibi Vol 15, No 2 pp2-5
13 Morocco, MED List
14 Karin van Nieuwkerk, "A Trade Like Any Other"
15 Yousry Sharif, lecture 2000
16 Aisha Ali, Arabesque, Vol V, No 6
17 Habiba, Habibi Vol 18, No 1 pp2-7
18 Betsey Flood, Habibi Vol 20, No 1 pp50-56
19 Jamila Salimpour, Habibi Vol17, No 3 pp16-19
20 Zalot, Habibi, Vol. 12 No. 1p 2
21 Kajira Djoumahna, Habibi Vol 20, No 1 pp30-38
22 Michelle Forner, Habibi Vol 17, No 1 pp 2-8
23 In Sol Bloom's 1948 memoirs, he took no credit for how "danse du ventre" came to be translated into English as "belly dance" but admited its risque association was a gold mine. (Kharmine, http://forum.orientaldancer.net 3/12/07)
24 Jalilah Zamora, MED List 2 Jan 2004

Also see

Return to www.bellyraqs.co.nz
for those with a general interest in the dance
Site Index Return to www.raqs.co.nz
includes articles for the dedicated convert

© Copyright 2007
Updated by JEWEL