Taheyya Karioka

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Taheyya Karioka (Badaweya Mohamed Kareem Al Nirani) Born in Ismaileya, Egypt, to a good and respected family.

As a teenager, and due to family differences that could not be settled with her brothers, she moved to Cairo to stay with an old neighbour from her home town by the name of Mrs. Suad Mahasen, who was a night club owner and an artist in her own right. She knocked on her door to ask her for help finding employment in her nightclub, never imagining that she would put her to an artistic job, as she had never known what art was and had never seen an artistic performance in her life previously. Suad Mahasen refused to put the young pretty girl from her hometown to that kind of nightlife and kept her as her guest at her house however, she was seen by many of Sound’s artistic friends who advised her to add her as a chorus girl in her band, but once again, she refused.

The news of the young girl from Ismaileya were brought to the club attention of Madam Badeia Masabny, the owner of the biggest night club in Cairo and she requested to meet her. Several musical agents approached the young Taheyya and introduced her to Madam Masabny, who offered her a job in the club right away. Taheyya asked permission from her, now auntie Souad Mahasen, to join the Masabny troupe, and what a better opportunity to work with the Dean Of Egyptian Dance. The young Taheyya was originally given the stage name of Taheyya Mohamed, but as she grew more popular in the club and was given various solo spots, she attracted many regular admiring clients, particularly after she excelled at the newly imported Brasilian dance of Carmen Miranda ( The KARIOKA), after which dance she was named.

The name Taheyya Karioka became very famous and attracted a high level of attention to this growing beautiful dancer, who was humorous, pretty, had a good singing voice, a charming character and personality, and was becoming one of the formidable dancers in the team of Badeia Masabny, And the gates to the heavenly success were opened to the young girl from Ismaileya.

This all took place in the early 1940’s, during the Second World War. This used to be a period of economic affluence in the Egyptian cinema industry, were the nightlife was flourishing and the cinema industry grew to a golden age never been equalled in the history of the Egyptian cinema.

And despite all the air raids and the siren warnings, the people knew that whatever happens, it can’t harm them, and so they lived it up.

During that time there used to be no less than 150 film production companies in Egypt, each producing a minimum of three films per season, and the most popular theme at the time was the comedy dance musicals that really entertained the people and made them forget the heaviness of the ongoing war. This created the ideal climate for Taheyya Karioka who was in constant demand to dance in these movies after which she was asked to sing and dance, then sing, dance and act, and before too long she was performing many leading roles in the top films. During which time Taheyya was very cautious to keep her work at Badiea’s night club and various other night clubs that became famous in that period of time and the applause grew louder, and the Audience admiration grew bigger and Taheyya was getting more and more addicted to the drug of fame and fortune, something that only a performing artist can understand the delightful joy of taking the applause from an enthralled audience.

An offer from three famous colleagues in the cinema industry, the director Hessein Fawzy and the two film stars Hessein Sedqui and Anwar Wagdy, to form a production company using their own finances.

The company was formed under the name of (Sharikat Al Shabab meaning The Youth Company) and they produced two films: 1. Aheb El Ghalat (I love Being Wrong) & Aheb El Baladi (I Love the Baladi) after which the company was disbanded and they each, except Taheyya started his own production company. But when the director Hessein Fawzy made his new film (NADOUGA) (a Tarzan / like story that took place in a jungle), he invited his friend from their previous company to star in it, something that guaranteed box office sales. But this was not the only film that Taheyya acted in that had the Tarzan story in it, another film by the name of “Princess Of The Island” in which she shared the leading role with the heart throb of that era, Kamal El Shennawy, and was directed By the late Hassan Ramzy who later on became the head of the cinema industry’s Chamber of Commerce and the producer and director of many famous Egyptian Films and the uncle of yours truly (Hossam Ramzy).

Before we get too carried away with Taheyya’s success as a cinema and theatre actress as well as a high society lady, we must return to her artistry in dance. By the approval of all the people in the music and dance industry who absolutely all agree and confirm that Taheyya had refined the dance of Egypt to a previously never matched artistic level to be compared to those arts admired by the highest level of society, and those who are considered to be the creators of Egyptian music as we know it today, have all confirmed that Taheyya has added to this ancient art form, in which she believed in to be not only a dance of expression, deeply felt emotions and refined spiritual feelings.

Taheyya has been known to have commented on the fact that in ancient Egyptian time, as proven by the writings on the walls of the temples, that our dance was used as a form of worship to the gods.

Taheyya’s acclaimed fame made her the centre of attraction in the social parties of the high royal society of Egypt and prior to the Egyptian revolution on the 23rd of July 1952; she used to be the speaking hostess of the national official celebrations as well as the private royal parties. Helped by her fluent command of both the English and French languages, she used to be very able to hold her position amongst the foreign invited dignitary, helped by her comprehensive library, which she read and educated herself to be a very eloquent and cultured artist that she was.

It is impossible to list the names of the hundreds of dancers who learned either directly or indirectly from either working with, or by absorbing the amazing artistic style of Taheyya.

A personal and sad touch to Taheyya’s life was the fact that despite her various marriages to various top star actors and businessmen, she was unable to conceive and become a mother, something which saddened her to her final days, but this made her very involved with the children of her brothers and the rest of the family as well as the supporting and sponsoring of various children’s charities and orphans houses.

Taheyya was awarded numerous awards in the cinema industry as well as in the field of theatre and by the new government of Egypt, but the best award she has ever received was the love and appreciation, respect and dedication of her loving audience worldwide, even after her sad departure, here I am writing about her and here you are reading it…

With Lots Of Rhythm
Hossam RamzyTaheyya Karioka