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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Dina Talaat Sayed Interviewed by Wael El Abrashy for 2 x 2

 

Translated By Priscilla Adum

 

 

Table of Contents

 

This is a transcript and English translation of an interview that Dina did with Wael el-Abrashi on a television program called 2 x 2 during Ramadan 2010 (between August 10 and September 9, 2010). The format of the program is to feature two interviewers, each interviewing a different subject. The other interviewer on this episode of the show was Magdy el Galad and his subject was Nagwa Fouad. The original interview appears online at https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3zgccr.

 

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Being the Subject of Scandal

INTERVIEWER: Dina, why are you always the subject of scandal? Who is at fault?

DINA: I don't want to say who's at fault while you are here. (she means the fault lies in the media)

INTERVIEWER: It's ok to say that newspapers are at fault. Not all of them are angels....

DINA: It's mainly the media's fault. It's as if you direct people's attention. They find a target and start taking shots and more shots at it.

INTERVIEWER: And people find this interesting?

DINA: Yes, and it may be that the personality and the public persona are interesting to people.

INTERVIEWER: Why, why is Dina's public persona always the protagonist of all that?

DINA: Because it's the first time that there's a dancer who has a University degree. And its also the first time that a dancer comes from a normal home, and not a dysfunctional one. And people have become accustomed to dancers not having any other qualifications other than being able to dance.

Dina

 

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Family Attitude Toward Her Being a Dancer

INTERVIEWER: (dancers who)...comes from a specific social background and escaped from her family (etc)...... Ok, but this will make some people wonder and ask "what kind of family accepts that their daughter dance while she's still a student in high school?"

DINA: I'm from a normal family. My mother and father lived in Europe and I was born in Italy. I came to Egypt when I was six years old. My father was an open minded man. He was a Communications Engineer and my mother was a secretary at the Indian Embassy in Rome and both of them were very open minded, they both understood that when one is determined, then there is no stopping them.

INTERVIEWER: If they had prevented you, you would still have worked as a dancer

DINA: Yes, I would have still worked as a dancer

INTERVIEWER: If they'd tried to stop you from going out the door then you would have jumped out the window.

DINA: Yes, and proof of that is that other dancers have done just that.

Dina

 

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Society's Double Standard

INTERVIEWER: There are two opposing views in society. People like to have their pictures taken with Dina, but if their son says to them I want to marry Dina, or Dina's daughter, or Dina's son, his family will say to him Oh what a big scandal!

DINA: You're right, but that's not the case in all social classes and societies. Proof of it is that I married and I had a wedding and a reception just like any normal girl.

INTERVIEWER: You married into the same business, show business. That's why.

DINA: No, it was the opposite of that. If you look at marriages within the artist's media you will find that they usually marry outside the media.

INTERVIEWER: Some artists lead more restricted lifestyles than ordinary people.

DINA: Yes exactly.

INTERVIEWER: For example, Adel Imam stated that he wouldn't want his daughter to become an actress nor participate in kissing scenes.

DINA: Yes but I'm not talking now about who is restrictive or not. Anyone can talk and say "Dina's work is inappropriate." Ok fine, but then don't invite Dina to lunch at their house.

INTERVIEWER: They invite Dina to lunch?

DINA: Yes. And then when it comes to accepting Dina as a member of their family they refuse. If they're going to refuse that, then they have to refuse it all.

INTERVIEWER: Ok so these are contradictory viewpoints in the way people see Dina. They like Dina but when it comes to marriage or (her) problems they see her as part of the shameful side of society.

DINA:(laughing) Yes, that's pretty much their viewpoint. I think that looking at art as a shameful thing is really something quite strange. Why is that only when it comes to raqs sharqi but yet they see ballet dancing in a positive light, as a good art.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, raqs sharqi. So whenever there's a problem (scandal) they see Dina as the guilty party from the start.

DINA: Yes exactly. Before I can even defend myself. I'm used to that, so I must always begin by defending myself.

Dina

 

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Clothes

INTERVIEWER: Athar el Hakim for example, refused to do a scene with you because your clothes were very inappropriate.

DINA: But my clothes were not unsuitable at all. They were like this and like this.. (Dina gestures to her arms to show it was just a sleeveless dress, and then gestures to below her knees to show the length of the dress) The scene was in a tv soap opera that was set in the 60's and the wardrobe department was in charge of choosing the clothes that I was supposed to wear. I wore the clothes that they brought me. I'm not the one who chose them.

INTERVIEWER: So you aren't the one who chose the clothes?

DINA: Exactly. Because I don't have 1960's style dresses in my closet. Athar el Hakim over reacted in an abnormal way.

INTERVIEWER: Did you get angry at her reaction?

DINA: Not angry, I just laughed at it. I didn't understand Athar's viewpoint because I'm free to wear whatever I want as long as I'm not causing harm to anyone.

Dina

 

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Blame

INTERVIEWER: In all problems related to Dina, it's always Dina who's responsible. The incident in Waset El Balad [a district of downtown Cairo, Egypt], Dina was responsible for it. (He is referring to the scandal in Cairo where some women were sexually attacked)

DINA: I swear by God I was not... there! (laughing) That incident happened some years ago [in 2006]. I was not there at all! I was in another city that day, in el 3aien El Soukhona at an Eid party. So how can I be in two places at one time?

INTERVIEWER: Why did Dina's name get involved? They said you were responsible for the sexual harassment incidents, and they put responsibility on you and society was buzzing about this for many weeks

DINA: I swear I wasn't even there!

INTERVIEWER: So why did they place the responsibility on you then?

DINA:I was there the day before the incident for the premiere of the movie.

INTERVIEWER: The one with Sa'ad El Soghayer....

DINA: I went to the theater but I didn't come out of the theater at all. The second day I wasn't even there. Perhaps the day of the scandal some guys started saying Dina! Dina! So the others imagined that Dina was there and they got carried away and caused the sexual harassment incident.

INTERVIEWER: So, the the presence of Dina alone is sufficient to cause sexual harassments?

DINA: No! Not my presence. Because I heard that this same kind of sexual attack happened two years ago in Waset el Balad too even though there wasn't any artist there. This usually happens around the time of Eid in Waset el Balad because there are a lot of cinemas and this area is very crowded during Eid time. Glass gets broken, property damaged. Every year they have to repair the glass.

INTERVIEWER: But the syndicate questioned you.

DINA: Yes, they questioned me and they concluded I was innocent. I was cleared. If they'd found me responsible they would have banned me from working because I am a member of the syndicate.

Dina

INTERVIEWER: Is it fair to say that Dina, her presence, her clothes can cause scandal and chaos?

DINA: I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt that day. That's very normal. Any girl walking down the street can wear jeans and a T-shirt. I wasn't wearing a belly dance costume for the premiere of the film. I know what to wear and when to wear it.

INTERVIEWER: So you are not the cause of these incidents of sexual harassment in Waset el Balad.

DINA: No. (laughing) I swear to God I'm not the cause. Maybe these men are sexually repressed.

INTERVIEWER: But isn't Dina like petrol on a fire?

DINA: But I wasn't even there so they were on fire without me. [laughing] I wasn't there, it's not my fault.

INTERVIEWER: The downtown area that witnessed these street harassments, they say that your incident triggered other incidents.

DINA: (looking surprised) So a single incident can change people's ethics?

INTERVIEWER: So you're saying that the people who behaved this way were raised with these attitudes?

DINA: Nobody can change your morality or ethics if they are already a certain way or if they are good. If I have good morals I won't change them because of bad words you said or bad acts you committed.

Dina

 

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Graduation Party

INTERVIEWER: When Dina danced at a graduation party at a hotel, people said that she was destroying education in Egypt and corrupting the youth. People in Parliament complained and lawsuits were filed because of your dancing for the students and they wanted to know who allowed Dina to dance among these students.

DINA: Do you know how many graduation parties I have danced at?

INTERVIEWER: 5 or 6 times?

DINA: If not 300 then 400. I've been dancing a long time! One year I performed at a graduation party with Ehab Tawfik and Mustafa Amar in Masr el Gedida. It's normal. These parties are not hosted by the school at all. It's the students themselves who collect the money and organize the party. Why are people making a fuss about it now when I have been dancing at these parties for many years?

INTERVIEWER: Ok, but they are saying that.

DINA: [interrupts] What does this mean? Are we going 70 years backwards or one year forward? Are we progressing? Have we become so closed minded that all we can talk about are some students organizing a party and having a good time? I've done so many graduation parties before and no one ever wrote anything about it!

INTERVIEWER: But, what is this teaching students, is what some people might say?

DINA: It teaches them dancing and dance is the most important thing in the world. Music feeds the soul and dance feeds the body.

INTERVIEWER: They might say it's teaching them lack of morals.

DINA: Why? Do I have two red horns and a tail? Am I holding a pitchfork? Am I holding a whiskey bottle in my hand and mingling with the students? I don't have anything to do with these things. My job is just dancing and dance is a characteristic of all countries. If I say samba you will immediately say "Brazil"! If I say raqs sharqi you will immediately say "Egypt"! Whether other people agree with this or not, it is our country's dance. When you see a woman in a belly dance costume you will immediately say "This is Egyptian"! So why do they feel ashamed of that?

Dina

 

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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 

Priscilla

 

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