How I started dancing
I started dancing when I was 5, my mother would always take me to the opera to see Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and I remember daydreaming of the day I’d become a ballerina myself.
My parents took me to my first class at a sports club in Cairo, and even though I did other sports on the side, ballet classes were my favorite; I would sometimes finish my school homework on the bus so I could go on time.
Why I took part to the „Ballerinas of Cairo“ Project
I was familiar with Mohamed’s project (Mohamed Tahar, Ballerinas of Cairo) since the very start, and I was extremely fond of the fact that someone was brave enough to do this in the middle of Cairo’s busy streets and conservative crowds.
Around the same time a friend had to photograph a dancer for her graduation project, so I agreed to shoot inside Cairo’s metro station. For some reason it’s considered illegal to shoot with a camera underground, so I had to shoot while the metro was in motion with no police around. The next day, I posted one of my pictures online, and it got featured by Mohamed’s page in a couple of hours, so that’s how Mohamed and I met. He shortly asked me to be a part of his project, and I was ecstatic!
A female dancer in Egypt…
Because Egyptians tend to base all judgement on religion, dance is mostly seen as an Egyptian taboo. Growing up, male members of my family would constantly ask when I would stop dancing, stating that it isn’t appropriate for a teenage girl to wear skirts and tutus and move around on stage. Being seen as someone who’s bringing shame to the family was definitely my biggest struggle and frustration.
However, I’m 22 now and still dancing, I don’t know if Egyptians are starting to see ballet in a different way, or if I grew nonchalant to the criticism.
How I feel when I dance
I feel my best when I dance; it’s like an open space to express whatever I want.
Whenever I dance it’s a reminder that my body is capable of anything. When I perform I tend to lose any sense to my surroundings and focus on how my body moves, that’s why it’s not at all overwhelming for me when I’m dancing in front of traffic or in the middle of surprised crowds in the streets of Cairo.
Can dance change lives?
I believe dance can definitely change lives, I can’t imagine my own life without having dance shape it. As I grew up, dance implanted a sense of discipline within me; the fact that I had to attend classes after school taught me how to handle my time efficiently at a very young age, this skill still helps me stay on track with my busy work schedule today.
I also learned how to treat my body well, I always think of how I eat, drink, exercise, and even walk with the right posture, to keep it as fit as possible for dancing. Dance classes also taught me how to be a team player, my dance mates were my very first best friends,and are still the closest to me to this day. When I became a dance teacher, it truly changed me, it made me realise how there’s nothing greater than giving all you’ve learned to someone else.
And last but not least, because of participating in several international dance festivals, dance always made me feel that we are all universally connected, without sharing a language we all understand the universal language of movement.