This week our Levels 1, 2 and 3 belly dance classes will dancing to the classic song “Ya Msaharni”, released in 1972 by Oum Kalthoum. This April is Oum Kalthoum month at the studio and we’re dancing to some of her lesser known pieces – as opposed to the mega-popular ones in belly dance like “Alf Leyla wa Leyla” or “Enta Omri”.

“Ya Msaharni” means “You who keep me up at night” It’s a love song from the point of view of a woman laying awake, wondering if her beloved even knows he’s keeping her from sleeping. You can read the full lyrics here, but here’s a sample:

Did it occur to you one day to ask about me while sleep has abandoned my eyes
You who keeps me sleepless!
My heart often asks me what changed you& why don’t I occur on your mind!
So what happened to your precious love and your heart tenderness
where’s your sweetness and your closeness!&.. your intimate compassion..
You who’s forgetting me!
and yet always on my mind& your vision never departs my eyes!

The music was composed by Sayyed Meqqawi, one of her less frequent collaborators compared to Sonbati or Abdel Wahab (in later years). The lyrics were written by the poet,  Ahmed Rami who had been writing for Umm Kalthoum since her rise to major stardom in the 1930’s.

Here she is singing the original in concert. This is one year before she retired from the stage in 1973 due to illness. She died in 1975.

As with many of the classics originally written to spotlight a vocalist, we usually dance to edited and arranged pieces that highlight the features we look for as dancers – interesting  accents and stops, evocative instrumental melody lines and rhythm changes to keep things lively.  The recorded-for-dancers version we’re using this week is by Hosssam Ramsy.

That melody at 2:00 is giving me flashbacks to this song from class last year!