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.

For whom do you mostly perform, now in these times?

I perform a lot in the countyside, as people still like to invite me. Even if there are some younger girls who dance at their events, they still invite me to see how they dance. I like to dance for tourist too, for the ones who know my history and the history of Banat Mazin, as they show me so much respect, and I like it.

Are you teaching a new generation of ghawazee? Are there girls in your familly interested in continuing the familly tradition?
Many girls come to me and they want to learn from me, but none of them are really interested in learning ghawazee, Banat Mazin style and to dance only that. They want to dance other styles too.

Do you know other ghawazee tribes in Egypt and what is your relationship to them?
Yes I know all the tribes, but we do not work together (laughter). We dance differently.

Did you start to learn dance with sagat and assaya all together, or first dance and than the props?
Yes, we started to dance sagat and assaya from the begining. It is harder to dance and play sagat at the same time; you have to listen intensively, so it is important that we started to learn all at the same time.

Were your teachers, your sister and your aunts also using assaya to dance?
Yes, of course.

Are there different styles of Ghawazee dance?
Yes, there are three different styles; Jihayni, Nizzawi and Takht. They are different in the moving of the hips, hands and legs.

Did you face any major problems as a female dancer in a conservative society, as being a ghawazee during your career?
Yes, of course I had many problems, you know because society does not accept dancers, or to have a dancer in their familly. My husband´s familly didn´t accept me, bacuse I was a dancer, but I believed in my dance, in my art, and I challeged them.

What would you advise us to wear today if we decided that we wanted to perform your style of ghawazee?
When we danced with our sister´s Banat Mazin, we used to wear very heavy skirts, as you could see on some videos of us. This skirts were very heavy and it was hard to dance in them. So we had to change to a longer dress, much lighter. The dress is usually colorful with a lot of beads. And on the head, you wear a crown.

Who makes the dresses for you?
I make all of my dresses myself.

Please tell me what is your opinion of oriental dance, raks sharky? 
I like old dancers like Naima Akef, Tahia Carioka, Samia Gamal and Naemet Mokhtar. They danced like queens. But today´s raks sharky I dont like so much. It seems that dancers just compete between themselves, which one will show the most flesh. My favourite dancer of all time is Naemet Mokhtar.