In the summer of 2022, the Raqs Sharqi museum purchased a rare and truly unique collection - photographs from a personal collection of Ragaa Youssef, including one of her old identity cards. Knowing that Ragaa herself owned these photos is raising their value beyond imaginable, at least for me.
But before we look at these unique photographs, let's talk about Ragaa herself. Ragaa Youssef is never mentioned as a famous or well-known Golden Era dancer. However, her dancing, in my view, was unique and beautiful. Unfortunately, she is, among many others, overshadowed by the fame of Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, and Soheir Zaki. But her contribution to Egyptinematography is undeniable.
About Ragaa Youssef
Ragaa Youssef was born in Egypt on December 29 1925, and died on May 29, 2005, at the age of 80. Ragaa Youssef started her career with her sister Awatef in the El Helf circus and Akef Circus, the circus owned by the Naima Akef's family. It seems that Naima Akef and Ragaa Youssef stayed friends, as we can see them dancing at a private party in one of the pictures from the personal collection.
Ragaa Youssef married Ahmed Al-Nahhas, who was 25 years younger than her. Together they produced several movies (note: they did not own the famous Nahas Films that was formed in 1946; the first movie produced by the couple was The Lost Plane in 1984). Ragaa acted in at least 29 movies; in some, she danced.
As an acrobat, she used her skills within her dance. Her beautiful Raqs Sharqi technique was spiced up with acrobatics like deep backbends. Ragaa also balanced slow and fast movements, so the viewer kept watching her unique dance.
Watch here Ragaa Youssef dancing in the movie Lahn Al Wafaa (The Melody of Faith) from 1955, featuring Abdel Halim Hafez:
Ragaa's personal collection
Here you can enjoy the rare photos from the personal collection of Ragaa Youssef, including her old ID. You might notice some known faces, such as Naima Akef and her husband Hussein Fawzy, Ragaa's sister Awatef, and Soheir Zaki. In some pictures, you can see Ragaa performing; in others, she trains a new-generation dancer.
If you would like to support the Raqs Sharqi Museum, in searching for antique & vintage items, buying them, archiving them, preparing scans & translations, and publishing them online so everybody can see them for free, you can become museum's PATRON. Thank you for your help!
Sources (secondary sources): https://elcinema.com/person/1055226/