Cairo's Goethe-Institut launches Artist Talks with dancers, choreographers from MENA region

Hager Elhady, Monday 11 May 2020

The Artist Talks are part of 'Un/Controlled Gestures?', an initiative launched by Goethe in 2019 and bringing together eight dancers and choreographers from the MENA region

Un/Controlled Gestures?
Cairo-based choreographer and dancer Salma Salem in discussion hosted by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi. The online video is first Artist Talk, part of the Un/Controlled Gestures? project led by the Giethe-Institut

Using their Facebook page, the Goethe-Institut has started hosting live Artist Talks with choreographed dancers from the MENA region.

The artists are participants in the institute’s Un/Controlled Gestures? Project, which provided an opportunity for young MENA dancers-choreographers to create and present new performances reflecting the autonomy of the body and the social control exercised over bodies, in its political, economic and interpersonal dimensions.

As the Goethe-Institut website explains, the starting point of the project was questioning Kafala, a concept which corresponds to different practices in the region, and which tackles the different dimensions of protection and control of the body.

Eight dancers and choreographers from the MENA region were selected from around 30 applicants, with each developing a play around the question of body control.

Launched in 2019, one of the main objectives of the project was to allow artists from four different countries in the MENA region to compare their experiences in their specific social and political contexts and discuss their artistic practices. The project included a few residencies and meetings between the artists.

Now presented online, the Un/Controlled Gestures? live encounters will take place between 10 and 21 May with discussions held in English and French.

The curators of the project are Brussels-based playwright specialised in the performance arts Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi, Anna Mülter specialised in dance and theatre (Berlin) and playwright Anna Wagner (Berlin).

The first Artist Talk was live-streamed yesterday featuring the Cairo-based choreographer and dancer Salma Salem in a discussion hosted by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi.

The Artist Talk revolved around the artist’s solo dance titled ‘Anchoring?,’ which, as the Goethe-Intitut Facebook page reveals “reflects on the expectations and unrealistic illusions that societies place on women every day.”

The video of the meeting can be watched here.


Tuesday 12 May: Palestinian dancer and actress Sama Wakim in a discussion about her "I am losing it" dance performance. Follow this link to view the discussion.

Thursday 14 May: Manal Tass (Casablanca) talking about her solo dance Acceptance in a discussion with choreographer Malek Sebaei (Tunisia).

Saturday 16 May: Mohamed Essawi (Tunisia) will talk about working on Khatawi dance show in a meeting and discussion with the dancer and choreographer Mohamed Ben Fury (Brussels).

Monday 18 May: The Alexandrian dancer Qamr Elkady will talk about her dance show IIIIIEzaha (Offset) with choreographer Malek Sebaei (Tunisia).

Tuesday 19 May: Sahar Al-Damoni will talk about the solo performance titled ‘Eat Bananas and Drink Grains,’ hosted by Nejma Elhaj Benchalbi.

Wednesday 20 May: The Cairo-based dancer Islam Al-Nubaishi will be hosted by dancer and choreographer Mohamed Ben Fury (Brussels).

Thursday 21 May: The series will end with Saeed Al-Hadaji presenting the Sarakh dance in a discussion with Nejma Elhaj Benchalbi.

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