The following is a post by Alexandra, visual artistperformer and instructor at Belly Motions.

Alexandra’s series of blogs on Historical Influences are meant to give the reader a taste of history on Middle Eastern Dance. For more on this series, click here!

When did Belly Dance hit the theater?

Who were the pioneers? How did they shape the future of the dance?

Badia Masabni, an early 20th centry Egyptian night club owner, was responsible for elevating Middle Eastern Dance as a performing art by exposing the dance form in her venues. In addition to Badia, there were two other significant individuals responsible for taking Middle Eastern Dance, namely Egyptian dance, to the stage…

Meet the Reda and Fahmy Families

Established in 1959, these two families formed a theatrical troupe that would begin the crusade to elevate Egypt’s Folk dances into a learned and practiced art form. Two of the founders, Mahmoud Reda and Farida Fahmy, are among the most sought after master instructors today.

Dancer, choreographer, director, gymnast and actor, Mahmoud Reda introduced ballet, jazz and modern dance elements into Egypt’s folk dances. Farida Fahmy, also Reda’s sister-in-law, was and actress and the main dancer in the troupe. Her clean style, bright personality and dedication became an inspiration to many dancers. Together they broke new ground for the future of Oriental Dance as we know it today.

Here are three important contributions from the Reda Troupe:

• They brought respect to Egyptians and their culture.

• They formed structure to choreography, solo performances and dance instruction.

• They shaped the dance into what we know today as Oriental Dance, or “Raqs Sharki.”

Dancers all over the world have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Reda Troupe. Today’s Belly Dancers are able to conduct amazing theater productions thanks to the developments by these historical figures (as well as living legends!).

CLICK HERE to watch a video of Mahmoud and Farida in their early years!

For more information on these masters, visit Farida Fahmy’s website or click here for more on Mahmoud Reda.

Curious to witness a real Belly Dance show on the big stage? Don’t miss the Belly Motions Annual Theater Production Sunday, February 9th, 2014!