Cairo Opera Ballet Company's artistic director guest of honour at Italian competition

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Feb 2016

Erminia Kamel has been named guest of honour of this year's International Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition, Domenico Modugno, in Bari, Italy

Erminia Kamel
Left: Erminia Kamel during the rehearsals for Swan Lake, March 2011. Right: Erminia Kamel in 2007 (Photos: Sherif Sonbol)

The artistic director of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, Erminia Kamel, has been chosen as a guest of honour for this year's International Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition, Domenico Modugno, which will be held in Bari, Italy between 18 and 21 March 2016.

This is the first time that Erminia Kamel has been rewarded such recognition.

"Being a guest of honour of this prestigious competition is a great honour to me," Kamel told Ahram Online.

"It has been so many years that I have worked in this field. In fact I gave all my life to it. Being a guest of honour is a reward for this entire fascinating journey," she comments.

The Italian ballerina's career began in Milan at the renowned La Scala Theatre. She then made Egypt her home where, accompanying her late husband and an iconic figure in the country's ballet, she added her share to the development of this art form in Egypt.

Back in Italy, Kamel's career moved forward fast. Four years into her becoming a soloist at La Scala, she met Abdel Moneim Kamel, a soloist from Egypt who was on temporary assignment in La Scala. The couple married and moved to Egypt where Abdel Moneim Kamel "had a duty towards his country" as he always described referencing his mission to revive Egypt's ballet company, which following successes of the 1960s, in the 1970s -- after the old Cairo Opera House was burned down -- was completely obliterated.

"All my formation, my school, my academy, it was in La Scala Theatre in Milano, and after eight years of school I entered the corps de ballet," she revealed to Youssef Rakha, the novelist and journalist writing for Al Ahram Weekly, a publication where she was interviewed by back in 2007, exactly 25 years after her arrival to Egypt.

Moving to Egypt in 1982, Erminia Kamel worked alongside her husband, creating a new company from scratch, first at the Academy of Arts, then moving it to the Cairo Opera as in early 1990s, the already strong ballet company turned into what we know today as the Cairo Opera Ballet Company.

At this time, Erminia Kamel also danced in several main roles at the Cairo Opera House, before she stepped down from the stage and continued to support her husband in work related to the troupe that included training the dancers, compiling the scenes directed by Abdel Moneim.

Abdel Moneim Kamel passed away in 2012 and since then Erminia Kamel has been the Cairo Opera Ballet Company's artistic director. She continues to cherish the legacy of ballet in Egypt, revives ballets that are already in the company's repertoire and invites foreign choreographers to work on new ones.

Held annually, the International Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition, Domenico Modugno, is the only event of this kind in the area, the competition's website reads.

The competition aims "to promote, stimulate, and encourage young talents in the discipline of dance and choreography. The main purpose of the event is to create opportunities for the young dancers to “network,” to see and to be seen by their peers, teachers, schools’ and companies’ directors, and of course, the audiences.

Connections made under such circumstances inevitably result in generous and even career altering offers of scholarships and jobs."

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