Mahatat to infuse Egyptian city streets with contemporary dance

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Feb 2016

Mahatat for contemporary art preps for a series of dance performances to be staged in the streets of Damietta, Mansoura, Port Said, and Cairo

(Photo: courtesy of Mahatat for contemporary art)

The street dance performances that will reach several Egyptian cities between 25 and 29 February are part of the Mahatat for contemporary art's initiative called “Art of transit.”

Dubbed "Dance in transit," the project is implemented by the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC), headed by Karima Mansour, in partnership with the Drosos Foundation and the British Council.

The upcoming intervention will "reshuffle the daily life of passers-by through dance," Mahatat, a Cairo-based initiative for art in public space, revealed in its official press release.

Similar to Mahatat's previous practices, which aimed at bringing art to people on the streets across several cities, "Dance in transit" will also address passers-by in Damietta, Mansoura, Port Said, and Cairo.

Headed by Heba El-Cheikh, Mahatat has worked extensively since 2011 to support the decentralisation of arts in Egypt by making it accessible to the people and organising art events in public spaces.

Since 2014, Mahatat organised several "Art of transit" tours which used a variety of art forms with workshops and seminars held in the visited cities, aiming at bringing the locals closer to the dynamics of arts and culture while providing an educational component.

Mahatat's previous artistic formats included marching bands, acting, acrobatics, cartwheels, puppet theatre troupes, and even classical and opera music, the latter being part of the "Opera on a Balcony" tours which fused Western classical music with Arabic compositions known to the local culture.

In their endeavors, Mahatat operates with a variety of independent artistic bodies and troupes: Outa Hamra, Teatro Independent Theatre, El-Kousha puppet theatre, etc.

Mahatat's initiatives are always met with big interest of the public, with people observing the preparations, joining the artistic parades, and enjoying the street performances. Many of the attendees revealed to Ahram Online that Mahatat's initiatives were their first (and often only) access to art forms. 

The new "Dance in transit" tour is the first one to fuse the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC) with Mahatat's format of spreading art to communities living outside the culturally centralised Cairo.

The CCDC's segment will include performers Nermin Habib, Shady Abdel Rahman, and Ibrahim Abdou. Movement is designed by Karima Mansour in collaboration with the performers.

In its press release, Mahatat presents the centre to be the first of its kind in Egypt and the region.

"CCDC is committed to shaping and advancing the future of the art form in the country and the Arab region by offering young artists unique three-year full-time professional and high quality vocational training opportunities of the highest technical and artistic standards in the field of contemporary dance."

Dance in transit tours will take place on:

Thursday 25 February: Port Said
Friday 26 February: Damietta
Saturday 27 February: Mansoura
Monday 29 February: Cairo

-- exact locations and timing to be announced soon

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