Of arts and light at the Cairo Opera House

Amira Noshokaty , Thursday 22 Dec 2016

Stick Art in action
stick arts in action Photo by Amira El-Noshokaty

Last week saw the closing ceremony of a two-year development through arts project funded by the European Union. The €263,500 fund was aimed at providing access to artistic and cultural tools as a means for self-development for some 1,000 children and 480 young Egyptians across five Upper Egyptian governorates.

"O you who is planting sugar cane right next to Molokhia," a young girl recited the lyrics to one of Luxor's folk songs. Dressed in her folk attire and with a powerful voice, she echoed folk heritage and broke all popular cultural taboos in one confident and well-practiced song.

stick art
Tahteeb dance photo by Amira El-Noshokaty

Under the slogan “With arts our country develops and with culture it is enlightened,” comes the unique European Union development fund that connects arts with development in collaboration with one of the oldest non-governmental organisations in Egypt; the 75-year-old Association of Upper Egypt for Development and Education.

The project was also undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Jesuit Brother's Association for Development.

folk song
Young Talent from luxor chanting folk songs, photo Amira El-Noshokaty

The project aimed to celebrate Egypt’s diverse cultural heritage through numerous forms of art, ranging from ancient practices such as stick dancing to featuring independent young musical bands.

Stick art on temple
Tahteeb on Temple of Ramsis the Third, Luxor

One of the most outstanding folk arts featured was El-Tahteeb (stick dancing), which was marked this month by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Stick arts go deep into Egyptian roots, and there are scenes documenting the dance on the Temple of Ramses III in Luxor.

On stage, the stick dance performance involved teen talents who were in high command of their sticks and were in-tune with the drum beat that accompanies the stick dance.

The performers are students of Markaz Medhat Fawzi for Stick Art in Malawi, Minya, a centre supported by Al-Warsha Troupe.

“Stick art is an old\new art, for we teach young talents the old principles of stick dancing, but we also integrate other elements from our heritage like mulid songs and introduced new steps that allow more flexibility and free movement,” explained Ibrahim El-Bardisi, the current trainer at the centre, which is internationally accredited and awarded.

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