Dancer Profile: Azza Sherif

Azza Sherif.jpg

The bellydance world lost one of its great dancers today: Azza Sherif. I’ve been thinking for some time about writing a regular blog post on various topics related to bellydance and with Azza’s passing I was inspired to go ahead with it.

I want to share some biographical information I found about Azza in my own research and videos of her performances. Hopefully this inspires you to go and find out more about her, or about other dancers- both past and present- who have been influential in this dance form.

Brief Bio: Azza Sherif (b.1947) began dancing in mid 1960s and throughout the 1970s, 80s and mid-90s. She continued to teach into the 2000s. Azza began dancing when she was 18 and gained experience by leaving Egypt to dance in Europe and Lebanon. When Azza returned, she quickly became a popular dancer to work with, appearing in over 20 Egyptian films over the course of her career. Oum Kalthoum (apparently) said that Azza’s “body was perfect for raqs sharki.” While she never reached the same heights of fame as some of her contemporaries, such as Soheir Zaki or Mona Said, she is still a star in her own right and a dancer worth studying. Later in her career she worked with Raqia Hassan. With a dance career that spanned three decades, there is no doubt she had an influence on bellydance.

What to look for when you watch Azza dance:

  • Lovely hands and arms

  • Shoulder shimmies galore

  • Strong and consistent hipwork- shimmies, vibrations, twists, figure eights, and circles.

  • Great stage presence, energy and musical interpretation (seen particularly well in the Tunisian piece).

From The Classic Carovan Page: Azza Sherif is the bellydancer in this scene from the 1984 Egyptian film 'Wahda bi Wahda' (One by One or Tit for Tat واحدة بواحدة ). Azza Sherif featured in films until the mid 1990s. The film starred Adel Imam and Mervat Amin who are the couple sitting at the table, him with a beard, her with short dark hair. Trivia: Also starring was Zizi Mustafa the dancer who is in a non-dancing role.

The Classic Carovan: This performance by Egyptian born dancer Azza Sherif is a transfer from VHS video tape to digital and the quality of the visual reflects that, but despite all that its one of the most inspiring and breathtaking performances ever. The title of the song is “Qalo Zini 3amil 7ala”. The song is Tunisian and was first released by a singer named Olaya. Thanks to Badr al Asmari for the song title and information

Leslie HolmesComment