Metkal Kanowi and Hallah al Safi – Sa’idi singer and dancer – Part II
Originally this week’s blog was going to be solely about this unique video, then I almost changed my mind to write up all the amazing information about Metkal and Hala that so many of you are sharing with me! As there are still people who continue to contact me with first hand information I will postpone this new information (part 3) and continue with this video.
Please Click Here to access this video on Youtube.
Unfortunately embedding is disabled so we can’t show it here.This video differs from other Metkal & Hala videos in that it includes four Folkloric Stage dancers who dance in a different style than Hala normally does. With Metkal Kanowi and two rababa musicians in the background
:03 two female dancers, trained for the Folkloric stage enter, move in a style and with steps/combinations that could be from Reda Troupe, Kowmeyya, or a regional governorate troupe influenced by either of these aforementioned National Troupes.
:23 Two male dancers enter dancing in a Kowmeyya style, whose athletic manner of men’s Sa’idi movement has more height to the steps and jumps than Reda technique. :40 the music and the dance slows with the women exiting at 1:10.
The camera focuses on the kollah¹ water jar, where, by video effects, Hala al Safy appears superimposed on the jar. Then she turns and does continuous “Figure 8’s” during the rebaba taksim (as the 2 Folkloric men theatrically socialize with Metkal). 1:38 Metkal Kanowi sings the mawwal, wearing his signature Sa’idi galabeya, turban and famous mustache. Hala al Safy, during the mawwal, is kneeling doing mostly hand movements, bringing her tarha (head veil) across her face, smiling her sweet smile.
At 2:31 the rhythm picks up, Hala stands, then she dances with the two Folkloric men. The movement is Cairo stage steps/combinations with Hala holding the kollah on her shoulder.
3:07 Hala dances in her unique style, in her signature solid color, sequined dress with its fitted torso and full skirt, then at 3:24 she returns to the choreography including at 3:41 a duet turn combination that I have never seen in Egyptian choreography before. At 3:50 she returns to her signature movement and acting out the words of the song as Metkal stands close.
6:09 The Folkloric women return to the studio set stage, dancing with Hala. 7:05 the Folkloric dancers exit leaving Hala to dance and smile with Metkal.
Of the two male folkloric dancers the first to enter is Mohamed Abdel Hai who was a member of the Kowmeyya while he lived in Egypt, at the time this video was made. Later he and his family moved to California where he and his wife worked at the Cascades as performers and directors of the dinner show, where I also had the pleasure to perform. Mohamed and his wife taught the dancers of the Cascades (including myself) the Kowmeyya repertoire and aesthetics.
I was familiar with this unique video before I met Mohamed and his wife and I was so amazed that I knew someone famous when he told me it was him in the film!² Later, when I became aware that there was more than one technique of Egyptian folkloric dance, I asked Farida Fahmy who the dancers were in this video. She said she did not recognize them, and it was not Reda technique.³
As I felt the Folkloric dancers were dancing in more of a Kowmeyya style, I contacted Fatin (living in the East Coast, who was a member of Al Firqah Al Kowmeyya Al Fannun Al Shaabeya) and asked her about this video. She so kindly shared her insights:
“These dancers are hired from the choreographer directly and at this time there were many who will do these choreographies for TV … the choreographer and dancers were paid directly [from] the producer, and of course the only available and trained dancers were from Reda or Kawmeya but we can’t say that this a Kawmeya dance at all. Mohamad Abdel Hai is in this choreography, maybe the others as well from the new generation of dancers … after we left. Also some of the famous choreographers were hired [by] these TV producers, it was a extra side job and income for them, to name some: Hassan Khalil, Kamal Naim, Mohamad Khalil and from Reda there is Hassan Afifi and Mahmoud Reda himself … Again being a member from any of these troupes doesn’t mean that the troupe itself is participating in this show. By law Kowmeyya can’t perform or be part of any private agreement, every show has to be through the Ministry of Culture, since most of the dancers, choreographers, musicians are Government employees and have all the benefits such as health insurance, small loans….”4
Thank you Fatin for your insight and information about the Kowmeyya and the entertainment business of Cairo. And another big thank you to so many people who have shared first-hand information about Metkal and Hala. I am following through on several of these threads; more information is still coming in and the jig-saw puzzle is filling in!
Don’t forget that this week is the last week of the Journey Through Egypt Dance Archive Kickstarter campaign! It is the last chance to get in on some of these great rewards. All products available through the Kickstarter won’t be available for individual sale for several months following the conclusion of the campaign, so if you want some new music, a nubian scarf or a great new poster for your studio, make sure to head on over and pre-order one!
¹ Information and terminology by Mme. Fatin (East Coast, previous member of Kowmeyya)
² Communication with Mohamed Abdel Hai and his wife. Approximately 1983.
³ Communication with Mme. Farida Fahmy. Approximately 1985.
4 Written by Mme. Fatin. April 19, 2014