DALIDA through the eyes of the Photographer _ MARWAN SABRA
"Viens! Mais ne viens pas quand je serais seule!"
Called the star upon the dimming of its own light before the stage curtain falls, as Dalida sang in her 1983 disco hit "Mourir Sur Scène"
One might find many lyrics in her songs that fulfilled the prophecy of how the story ended. But it's the beginning that remains obscure.
Although Dalida herself spoke in interviews about her upbringing in Shubra neighborhood in Cairo and the movies about her life portrayed the little girl that would become a global icon in her parent's apartment in Cairo.
But you'll also see a beautiful young woman by the name of "Iolanda" – Dalida's real name- playing a role in the 1955 Egyptian movie "A Glass And A Cigarette". She was 22 at the time, after that she travelled to Europe. It's those adolescence years during which she discovered her own voice and found passion for singing and acting.
In February 2022 I walked the thousand-year-old street of Al- Azhar to buy lavender Velvet from the famous fabric market there. It was a long walk but I wanted the memory of how this journey started not just the lavender velvet that would later become the stage curtain on Dalida's door.
In the following weeks I invited to my studio, the Egyptian artist (Sabrine El- Hossamy) - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Dalida- to see my process of building Dalida's home inspired set. Sabrine shared her deep passion for Dalida and how she fell in love with her songs and artistry since she was a little girl. A passion that inspired Sabrine herself to start her own music career.
The first set where Dalida is emerging in her late 60s iconic white dress like a bright star from an apartment and sparkly stage curtain, emphasizes the bond between her life of stardom an how it all began in the heart of Cairo by taking her first step out of an apartment door inspired by the early 20th century traditional Egyptian apartments. And into the world of spotlight!
The surreal imagery of the sparkly lavender curtain and the bars on the door window resembling a music note. Right down to the star shaped door handle and the building number (33) – the year Dalida was born- all those details were to say this isn't just an ordinary door and the little girl that lives inside is not an ordinary girl!
Towards the end of this journey of making this star-gate-like door and the subway-station-inspired second I would only here one lyric in my head over and over again from Dalida's song "Ahsan Nas" which reads:
"The Nile is smiling and singing; he remembers me and was asking about me!"
Paying a tribute to Dalida was a dream I had two years ago. This is a celebration of the life of a star that shone so bright and the entire world was there to see."
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