Naima Akef (October 7, 1929 - Apr 23, 1966) is considered to be a genre defining artist
and an integral part of the Egyptian identity. And, yet she is perhaps
one of the least internationally recognized bellydancers (....)
Naima was born in the Nile Delta to the Akef Circus family somewhere between 1929 and 1932, according to most reports.
In 1949, around the age of 20 she had starred in her first film. Because
of her quick rise to fame and her increasing popularity, the other
girls at Casino Badia ganged up on her in an attempt to get rid of her.
Having been raised in the circus, Naima was probably no shrinking
flower. She took them on and won, but the ongoing tension from the
situation led Badia to make the hard decision to let Naima go for the
sake of peace with the majority of her dancers.
Naima Akef changed the dance into something completely free of sexual
innuendoes and it became about flexibility, beautiful execution and
elegance on the stage plus her sense of humor. She could work in one
place, and she could also use a large area – she was fundamentally
trained in the circus.
Naima Akef continued to have great success in cinema throughout her
short career. She sang, danced and acted in several movies, mostly black
and white productions, including the 1954 film Nour El Oyoun (The light of my Eyes) starring Karem Mahmoud and Mahmoud el Melegy, and perhaps her best known appearance in Tamr Henna (Red Flower), in 1957.