Archive for October, 2012

Music Mondays …?


My apologies to all of the music enthusiasts out here.

The lack of Music Monday blogs have been a combination of an overwhelming amount of duties having to be performed as part of the ubiquitous Monday routine along with my perception that no one was actually reading this blog.

To my surprise, there were a few fellow dancers that shared the last post I shared on Mohamed Abdel Wahab. I didn’t realize this until 3 weeks after posting… with this being said, I assure you another fun music article will be available for your eager eyes and dancing souls in the next couple of days – weather permitting.

Hang tight everyone!

Sending love and good vibrations to the East Coast of the USA – we are all in this together – come wind, rain, snow… or whatever else breaks loose in this storm system!


“Wolf and I” by OhLand – Fusion Bellydance by Kendra Ray

Song: “Wolf and I” by OhLand. I do not own the rights to this song, I just perform to it!

Choreographed by Kendra Ray . By fusing a foundation of bellydance and theatrical delivery, along with the philosophy of the yin and yang – the balance of light and dark, Kendra portrays the embodiment of the Moon who longs for her companion, the Wolf.

Mohamed Abdel Wahab – the “Beethoven” of the Arab World

This composer/singer/musician/actor is responsible for creating more than one-thousand songs in his lifetime (1907-1991) – many of which have become classics in the world of bellydance. The name Mohamed Abdel Wahab may not sound familiar to some, but his work is synonymous with Arabic music and includes famous titles such as, “Ya Msafer Wahdak”, “Al Nahr Alkhalid”, “Cleopatra”, “Aziza”, “Zeina”, and the classic “Enta Omri” – performed by the rival performer-turned-ally, Oum Kalthoum .

To highlight the incredible impact this man has had on the music and dance that has helped to shape Egyptian culture and what we know as bellydance today, here are some interesting facts:

According to




  • Composed Egypt’s national anthem, for which  Anwar Sadat awarded him the rank of general.
  • Hybridized Western song forms such as the tango, samba, and rumba.
  • In 1964, Gamal Abdel-Nasser awarded Mohammed Abdel Wahab Egypt’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor.
  • Composed the United Arab Emirates’ national anthem in 1971.
  • Worked at a circus as a young boy so he could sing despite his family’s objection

Many times, I will refer to classic bellydance music and stylization as having a constant cross-cultural influence throughout the last century. To better explain how the political environment along with Western elements in Arab culture played a role in this development, here is an excerpt from European rule replaced Ottoman rule, Western influences 
affected local music.

In particular, stage musicals in Arabic incorporated 
Western elements.  In 1926, it fell to Abdel Wahab to 
complete a musical left unfinished by the late Said 
Darwish, a great composer of the previous generation.  

After visiting Paris and familiarizing himself with 
French musical presentations, Abdel Wahab invented the 
Arabic film musical. To a popular culture in which 
romantic love was commonly associated with suffering, 
Abdel Wahab introduced a romantic hero of light-hearted 
wit and urbane sophistication.  His films portrayed a 
Westernized social elite and featured music that broke 
from tradition.  Fellow composers noted that the music 
was simplistic compared with Abdel Wahab's previous 
work, and Abdel Wahab used lip-synching rather than the 
improvisation on which Arabic music had traditionally 
relied; but audiences loved it.  The film "The White 
Flower" was a phenomenon, breaking attendance records.  

Abdel Wahab enjoyed introducing new female singers to 
the public through his movies; many became stars...  
Musically, his films continued to be controversial, 
as he began to feature large orchestras with admixtures of 
Western instruments.  Into his art, he hybridized Western song 
forms such as the tango, samba, and rhumba.

In the 1950s Abdel Wahab left film and concentrated on 
his last recordings as a singer, assuming a new and 
more serious musical style.  In the 1960s he stopped 
singing, but he continued composing for other singers.  
It was in 1964 that after years of rivalry at the top 
of their profession Om Kalthoum released a record of 
his "Ente Omry" written for her to a text by the poet 
Ahmad Ramy.  

...It was the song the young generation thought of when they 
thought of Om Kalthoum, though it was certainly Abdel 
Wahab, not Om Kalthoum, who spiced up the orchestration 
with an electric guitar.

For many years Abdel Wahab appeared very little in 
public, but his popularity never faded.  In 1988, at 
the age of 81, he made a surprise return to the studio, 
singing a new composition, and despite lyrics that 
seemed unacceptably iconoclastic to some radicals, the 
disk sold two million copies.

To know the dance is to know the music, and Mohamed Abdel Wahab is certainly a pioneer in the music culture that bellydancers are trained to know and love. The art wouldn’t be what it is without his innovation in and integration of Western and Middle-Eastern cultures.

Here is a clip of legendary dancer, Samia Gamal, dancing to one of his most famous compositions, “Zeina” in the 1956 film Zanouba:

Here is a clip of Mohamed Abdel Wahab performing with a full orchestra. According to Google translate, this means “Lover Spirit” :

%d bloggers like this: