KHAIRIYA MAZIN - interview

KHAIRIYA MAZIN, October 2017, boat from Luxor to Esna

Please tell us how a ghawazee learns to dance and when? How did you and your sisters start?
The knowledge in our familly is transmitted from generation to generation. My older aunts taught my oldest sister, Su´ad Mazin. And then, our sister Su´ad taught the remaining 5 of us how to dance. 

In which time of your life did you decide to continue with the family tradition of dancing, for it to be your profession?
I started dancing at 14 years of age just for fun, but I used to accompany my sister on her performances, so I danced all the time. The firts time I earned money from dancing was, when I was 20 years of age.

Who were your major clinets during the time of Banat Mazin? For whom did you perform the most?
We were mainly performing at different kinds of family celebrations, in the countryside. Also the people from the countryside paid us very good money for our performances.



When you learn oriental dance in a non-oriental country, like myself, the fascination to get to know the origin of the dance grows with time, and with knowledge. It is only natural, that after some years of dedicated learning one wants to go and see the country of origin of the dance and wants to learn from the source. My fascination with the Ghawazee began soon after I started to dance oriental dance. Maybe because I started learning from a teacher of a gipsy origin, or maybe it was because of my love for dance with finger cymbals and that-up beat feeling that upper Egyptian music gave to me...but for sure I fell in love with it when I bought Aisha´s Ali DVD Dances of Egypt. I knew I had to go to south Egypt. For more than 10 years I deepened my knowledge of oriental dance and some Arab folklore, travelled to Cairo a few times, but never had the opportunity to learn Ghawazee. It seemed that everything needed its time to thrive, and so did my Ghawazee experience.

It was the 24th of October 2015, that I first smelled the air in Luxor and felt the warm ground of upper Egypt. From the first minute on, I completely loved it. The following day our hosts, my dear teacher and friend, an amazing woman named Brigitte and her husband, a citizen of Luxor, Mohammed, arranged a meeting for us with the last of the Banat Mazin, the living legend itself, Khairiya Mazin. I am not going to write about Banat Mazin, because I am sure all the oriental dancers know about them.

We were to meet with Khairiya at Mohammed's restaurant Nile View on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. If you have ever experienced what it's like to be a fan, to have an idol, well, then you know how I felt. I was sitting in the Nile View with my friends, waiting for Khairiya to come. First, the musicians came, then, there was a very elegant lady in a black galabiya, wearing black hijab. That was Khairiya. Oh, my god. My eyes filled with tears and I started trembling. Just a few metres from me, there she was. A legendary dancer, the last of the Banat Mazin. I told my friends: »My dear girls, we are witnessing a historical moment. Do you know how lucky we are right now to be sitting here with her? «

After we met and had lunch, we had a private workshop, ten girls from Slovenia, Kshatriya Mazin and their amazing Shaba musicians for Luxor. What can I say? During the next three hours, magic happened. Khairiya was dancing for us, telling us about her dance, her life and we were totally enjoying each and every moment with her. She is a wonderful person, soft, gentle and sweet. Her dance is very earthy but at the same time very feminine, very natural and a pure joy to watch. She showed us all of her repertoire and we knew we wanted more, but at that time we already had some other plans to travel around upper Egypt, so we said goodbye to her and we were hoping to meet each other again soon.

all of us with Khairiya 2015