Esal Rohak


Morning all, ive been thinking about doing a solo for the next hafla (whenever that will be).. Its just going to be for other dancers so im not "going public". The music i want to dance to is Esal Rohak and im currently looking up translations and getting to know the music. would any of you good people know if there is anything socially or culturally significant i should know about this song before going ahead?

thank you


It's a nice song. Enjoy yourself.

My husband, a professional musician, says performing for non-musical (or in this case non-dancing) audiences is business. Performing for other musicians and dancers is the great challenge because the regard of peers means far more than the applause of the untutored.


Active member
As far as I know, it's the usual guidelines for performing to Umm Kalthoum. YMMV, but I was taught by a native teacher that if you are dancing to her music (whether she's singing on the record, or it's a remake with or without vocals), a dancer should be on their best and most dignified, respectful, elegant behavior. There's obviously some leeway for the circumstances of the gig, but generally speaking, this is not the time for hyper-sexy/trashy/novelty costumes, vulgar moves, or experimental fusion that deviates glaringly from traditional raqs sharqi.

Most dancers go out of their way to use remakes so they don't have to thread the etiquette needle of dealing with Umm Kalthoum's vocals, but if you have your heart set on using one of her actual recordings: (1) don't play finger cymbals over her singing, and edit your selection very carefully so you (2) respect the structure of the song and don't make a mess of her artistry, and (3) don't make it sound like you're co-opting her applause if it's a live recording. With all these constraints, you can see why so many dancers just opt for a bellydance instrumental version or another singer's cover that doesn't command as much respect.

"Esal rouhak" is from 1970, so it's very late in Umm Kalthoum's career, but it's your artistic choice what you do with that information. Do you want a costume consistent with that era? Are you concerned if some modern Egyptian moves like windmill arms would be anachronistic? These decisions are up to you, and they may depend on the version you are using. A synthesizer-heavy modern arrangement doesn't carry the same historical weight as a classical arrangement with traditional instruments.

The only other thing I can think of is if you have to provide background information on the song, don't get confused between Abdel Wahab Mohammed (the guy who wrote the lyrics for this song and a number of other pieces Umm Kalthoum sang) and Mohammed Abdel Wahab (the guy who didn't write the music for this song, but did compose a bunch of other songs Umm Kalthoum made famous). They're two separate artists with mirror-image names.


(sorry for the long wait in reply - life) thank you for such a great answer! im humbled i dont think i would have he courage to dance to umm kalthoums version, im just not ready for that responsibility hehehe. ive only been learning belly dance for three years, so i consider myself a beginner, but i tend to learn fast (im areas) so im hopefully, ready to dance to this song and i haven't learned zills so i wont be playing those. im tending to use a mixture of old and new styles, and hopefully weave them together without too much "wrong", having said that, i wont be using and modern "sexy" or fusion styles. thnak you for your answer, there is alot to think about x

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Actually, the very first choreography (and first lessons) I learned was an Oum Kalthoum song. However, I never used it for public performing but I've seen others perform to her songs and they were very respectful.