Who is Mahmoud Reda

The figure of Mahmoud Reda is unprecedented in the world of Egyptian art and Oriental Dance

His work is a window into the world of Egyptian culture, especially with regard to its music and dances and popular customs.

The unquestionable courage and talent of Mahmoud Reda as a dancer is as important as his scientific and social contribution to dance. 

         Thanks to his invaluable investigation of folklore and dances from different regions of Egypt, Raks Sharki was greatly enriched by feeding on the roots of the people.

Mahmoud Reda is the pioneer of the Egyptian “Theater Dance” . He knew how to take to the stage his own interpretation full of elegance, respect and essence, of the folk dances and folklore of his country.

The result of this staging of his research, the result of years of work and travel, led him to create a new style within the Raks Sharki, of great projection and originality.

The results of the trajectory of master Mahmoud Reda are, in figures, amazing: more 150 dancers have passed through the Reda Troupe, (founded in 1959 and directed by the teacher until 1990) as well as dozens of musicians, technicians and specialists in the world of scenic art; more than 50 countries had the lucky to witness the Reda Troupe show, and more than 150 dances and Dance scenes of different inspiration make the repertoire of the teacher. This is all history, but a living story, because their influence on Oriental Dance or Raks Sharki, today, throughout of the entire globe, it is more than palpable

Every dancer of oriental dance versed in the subject, knows and values the figure of Mahmoud Reda and his legacy.

And, although oriental dance today in day tends to evolve to a concept and mode partly far removed from style and Master’s dance concept, he can’t, nor does he get, nor do I think he wants completely disconnect from the essence and the base that Mahmoud Reda provided, since Mahmoud Reda built solid pillars and enriching to build the temple of Raks Sharki.

“My work was a mixture of the original folk dance, the ballet I learned here in Egypt and in Paris, and my own personal style and this was surprisingly successful.”

Quote by Mahmoud Reda taken from the article “Mahmoud Reda, pioneer of Egyptian folk dance”

The documentary value of the work of Mahmoud Reda is incalculable. You have to think that the time in which he made his “Research laboratory” & nbsp; (decade of the 70s) there were hardly any image files and even less video on the dance, folklore, and cultural and musical customs of Egypt. In the Most occasions, these cultural manifestations were limited to events punctual and traditional populations, and there was only written memory or Verbal of those fans who had been able to witness these events.

In Egypt we can distinguish several regions cultural areas: Bedouins of the desert, the inhabitants of the Nile Delta, Upper Egypt, Nubians and the tribes of the far south, as well as the inhabitants of the oases of Siwa, Dakhla and Kharga.

But Mahmoud Reda did not just observe the dance and music of each region, he also immersed himself in everyday traditions, work, social relations. His inspiration came from any day-to-day scene, from seeing fishermen handle the nets with a peculiar and characteristic movement and posture, or from seeing women collect cotton to the rhythm of their songs, etc..

In the book “Dancing is my life” that Master himself gave me, dedicated by him and Farida Fahmy (his companion on stage, artist of great value and importance for the oriental dance of which I will speak in future articles ) under the roof of the auditorium of the Library of Alexandria, there is a palpable example, among many others, of the creativity and theatricality of the stage pieces of the Master, fruit of His valuable observation of the Egyptian world:

“In the province of Al-Minia they had the opportunity to witness a game of young girls who had a lot of potential to be represented on stage: the girls played in a semicircular ring to sing in unison, and in turns, each girl took a step forward to imitate, with gestures, movements, dances and songs, to characteristic characters of his people; I was already the daughter of mayor, or the professional rural dancer, or the villain, or “the crazy from town”. Mahmoud Reda created a dance number inspired by that game, in which also included children playing ball, called Al’ab Al-Azfal.

I have had the good fortune to meet Master Mahmoud Reda personally, and to learn from him and also from the great Farida Fahmy. These great artists are first and foremost great people, humble and wonderful, a treasure of Egypt more majestic than their own pyramids.

I’ve been lucky to dance their dances in their own country, on the stages of the Library of Alexandria. To talk about Mahmoud Reda in Spain is to talk of Nesma, heiress of his legacy, who still disseminates and teaches all dancers who wish so the legacy of the teacher. Thanks to Nesma I could experience the beauty and value of this legacy in the scenarios of Egypt and other cities of the world.

Regardless of our personality as dancers, knowing the legacy of Mahmoud Reda is fundamental, It is a basic pillar of the Sharks Raks. From here my hug for this Master.

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