Art Alert: Egypt's Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School to premiere Zambalek

Ahram Online , Thursday 25 Aug 2016

Since its onset in 2012, the school, located in the economically underprivileged district of the same name, has taught artistic skills to dozens of children

Darb school
(Photo: still from Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School promotional video)

“We will take you on a journey steeped in happiness, joy, and featuring many surprises. You will hold your breath at some moments, and dance along at other moments (in the company of) artists from Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School.”

Thus reads the event description of Zambalek, a new performance by students at Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School scheduled to be staged every Friday throughout the month of September at Cairo’s El-Genaina Theatre.

Zambalek, which will comprise circus arts and music, comes following what has thus far been a vibrant summer for the school's students, with their participation in the Bab El-Bahr Festival in Tunisia, and the International Children's Folklore Festival in Morocco, among other events. 

More recently, the school staged their play Lost and Found on 19 and 20 August at Cairo’s Falaki Theatre, where the play had first premiered in February 2014.

Directed by Hanan Hajj Ali, who also co-wrote the play along with cultural activist Basma El-Husseiny, Lost and Found takes elements from circus arts and theatre to present the stories of children’s relationships with their families, their neighbourhoods, and their country.

Since its onset in 2012, the school, which is located in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, an economically underprivileged district in Cairo, has taught dozens of children an array of artistic skills. 

The school, which aims to provide neighbourhood children with an arts education to help in securing future jobs, was founded by an NGO, the Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy) in cooperation with the Aga Khan Music Initiative - Aga Khan Development Network.

Currently the school operates under El-Genaina Company for Arts and Culture Services, and continues to be partnered with Aga Khan.

Targeting children aged eight to 18, the school opens its door for new students twice a year, after mid-term examinations in January, during which it accepts 100 or more students, and after final exams in May.  

Upon enrolment, each child chooses one of three specialisations offered at the school; circus arts, percussion or wind instruments.

Besides Lost and Found, the school’s other performances include Darbaka — the end product of a two-week workshop by STOMP trainers from the UK — and most recently Balalika, a performance comprising circus acts, musical performances and a clown show, all performed by second-year students as well as some graduates of the school which premiered in July 2015.


Every Friday throughout September, 7pm
El-Genaina theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, El-Darassa, Cairo

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