Dancer Samia Gamal

Gamal catapulted to fame in the 1930s and 40s in her native Egypt as a dancer, becoming famous for combining techniques from ballet and Latin dance into Middle Eastern dancing.  She starred in dozens of films with composer, singer, and actor Farid al-Atrash, and some compared them to an Egyptian Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. You can see examples of Simia’s dance work in a few clips on YouTube – in the 1954 Egyptian film Ali Baba , A Glass and a Cigarette (1954), and this unidentified clip from a film where she appears with Farid al-Atrash. In 1949, King Farouk proclaimed Gamal as “The National Dancer of Egypt”, which led to attention for her in the United States.  She travelled to the US the following year and appeared at the Latin Quarter, a famous US nightclub, first setting off a national fad for Middle Eastern-styled “belly dancing” in this country.