The annual dance festival Nessim El-Raqs (The Dance Breeze) organised by Centre Rezodanse Egypte brings several contemporary dance performances to public spaces in Alexandria between 5 and 10 May.
The first Nassim El-Raqs Festival was held in 2011, seeking to extend the cultural and artistic parameters of the city of Alexandria.
“We invite Egyptian and international artists to create dance pieces in the city. It could be in a garden, street, garage, anywhere. The creation is born from the place, and is inspired by urban spaces,” Emilie Petit, director of Nassim El-Raqs Festival, tells Ahram Online.
In its sixth edition, the festival still strives to open new spaces for creation and production for artists in Alexandria, and give them an opportunity to expand their work environment, question it, explore it, and welcome new challenges to develop their practice.
“We select and invite international artists that we like and think are able to go through this process, as it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. They will stay for three weeks at the venue that we chose for them, to create a performance, so we select artists who can make something interesting with these elements,” Petit says.
This year the festival presents six productions, each involving around 10 or 12 people participating, including a mix of professional, local and international artists from different fields.
“We also have lots of amateurs participating this year that we supported through workshops and trainings,” she says.
Last year Nassim El Raqs produced How Much? within D-CAF festival’s Urban Visions programme.
Choreographed by Christian Ubl from France’s CUBe association, directed by Karima Mansour and performed by the students of the Cairo Contemporary Dance Centre, How Much? took place in Cairo’s Sednaoui department store.
Previous editions of the festival in Alexandria featured choreographers from France, Latvia, Morocco, China, Italy, among other countries. Performances took place in unexpected public venues, including Anfoushi’s Shipyard, Cinema Rio’s rooftop, Café Baudreau’s garden, and elsewhere.
Though it is the sixth edition, the festival still faces challenges with securing permits for public performances.
“We always have problems and it’s getting more and more difficult. Although we now have collaboration with the tourism authorities in Alexandria governorate and they are helping to get authorisation, it is still difficult to get the permits,” Petit says.
"We always have to negotiate, and sometimes we get authorisation by word. Then they take it back for different reasons. And sometimes other entities come in and cancel the authorisation for security reasons. for example."
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