The Changing Portrayal of Dancers in Egyptian Films

Three Roles in the Career of Tahia Carioca (1946, 1958 and 1972)

in Anthropology of the Middle East
Carolina Bracco University of Buenos Aires

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This article examines the projected image of dancers in Egyptian cinema. The historical background includes the last period of the Farouk monarchy, the revolution of the Free Officers Movement and the Nasser regime, ending with Nasser's death in 1970, when a new social and political era started blossoming. I consider the socio-political changes and their cultural repercussions as part of a dialectic relationship that affects the portrayal of dancers in three films: The Lady's Puppet (1946), My Dark Darling (1958) and Pay Attention to Zuzu (1972). By examining Carioca's roles in these films, I argue socio-political changes in Egypt have been projected on the image of the dancer while also changing it: she is first seen as a working woman, then as an evil woman and finally as a marginalised woman.

Contributor Notes

Carolina Bracco has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and Master's Degree and PhD in Arab Culture from the University of Granada. She wrote her Master's Thesis on the life of the Egyptian Dancer Tahia Carioca and her Doctoral Thesis on the image and imaginary of dancers in Egyptian film after four years of fieldwork in Cairo (2007–2011). She is Director of Institutional Relationships with the Arab World of the Audiovisual Archive Observatorio Sur and Editorial Secretary of Al Zeytun, the first Latin American academic journal on Palestinian thought, analysis and culture. She is a member of the Palestine Studies Chair ‘Edward Said’ (UBA), teaches at the PhD program of the Social Sciences Faculty of UBA, and is Co-Director of the Gender Studies Collection of Canáan Publishing House. Email:

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