A Diary of a first time dancer – Day 1

 During my first class of contemporary dance, while turning and moving restlessly in circles, trying to avoid the sweaty bodies around me, I kept recalling this scene of  the “Dead Poet Society” movie. In this movie starring Robert William, the new inspiring poetry teacher tried to teach his students how to stand out and be unique despite of the rigidness of their society and their orthodox school. The exercise was simple; he asked three students have to walk spontaneously in the yard. For the first three seconds, they walked their own rhythm and path but automatically after a while they started to follow each other rhythm. They fell in the trap of conformism, the trap of reconciling their unique self for the sake of belonging to the mass and the community. They became followers and lost themselves..

Back to the sweaty – charged with energy- room of the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center, where I organize and take part of the “Mother Tongue” workshop led by Kara Davis, the lesson was exactly the opposite. We were asked to walk chaotically and mime the others: we had only to gather all the visual information and movement that the other participants do and mimic them. We were asked to lose ourselves and follow.

But isn’t this the one’ dilemma in his everyday life?! Was this room a simple simulation of life, where the one struggles between saving himself from diluting in the mass and between trying to integrate and live with this same mass?

In this room, there were all kind of people, the initiators/ leaders and the followers, exactly like in real life. There were those who can’t help their urge to lead and to perform and those who shyly followed.  

Only with the pass of time, when the exercise became endless and every one stopped to expect a soon release from this endless movement; boundaries fell, roles stopped and the real game started. In the endless movement of exhaustion, all
bodies got released and freed. It was strange how freedom was felt out of despair and pain. Yes, dancing freed us from the consciousness of our moving bodies, from all the taboos of being clumsy, overweight or restless. And yes it felt good!

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La Cantatrice attend …

On PsychOpera , an experimental performance directed by Adham Hafez and performed by Nevine Alouba, part of 2 B continued Festival & Theatre and Dance Laboratory – Cairo 13-18 January 2011

Trapped in her agony, in her fears mixed with anticipation, the opera singer is waiting ..

Attracted by magnetic invisible strings, the audience were holding their breath, anticipating, manipulated by the provocative sharp electronic musical tones…

In a brilliant set , Adham hafez, the director, invited us to enter the restless creative tortured mind of an Opera Singer who is getting ready to enter on stage. These critical three seconds that normally precede the singer entrance on stage, before (s)he face  her/his audience (this absolute mysterious mass of strangers waiting there in the dark to judge him/her) were stretched to a whole 30 minutes , where we were invited to get into the cantatrice restless mind.

Nevine Alouba Performing

Between two layers of reality represented by the two transparent curtains, we see her trapped in her subconscious mind between the two worlds: the unconscious and conscious ones, we see her there, like a specter in her white dress waiting …

Thoughts, visuals, tones are interrupted and mixed up with long suffering opera singing notes

she is there standing behind the transparent curtain projecting her shadow (a marvelous scenographic effect) but yet , she is there trapped , ready and waiting ….

Finally the delivery approaches and the restless mind spits out his last words

My mind sits on me

and I become its very tired animal

you seek union

well enough to last long

but when I can , I can’t, I can’t

but when I can’t , I can’t, I can’t when I can’t

your thoughts are inaccessible

my thoughts are inaccessible

my thoughts are even inaccessible to me

it is inevitable to speak

but it confuses me

Your mind sits on me

and you become its very tired animal

I seek union

well enough to last long

but when I can , I can’t, I can’t

but when I can’t , I can’t, I can’t when I can’t

My thoughts are inaccessible

Your thoughts are inaccessible

Your thoughts are even inaccessible to me

it is inevitable to speak

but it confuses me

Was she addressing her unknown audience or simply her self? In a final act, the curtain opens, and here she is, glowing, in a majestic gesture salutes us, and starts her mute performance

But aren’t we all the same? Aren’t we all performers on the life stage, Deep inside, aren’t we agonizing over and over from our restless mind, Aren’t we shaping and reshaping ourselves according to the exterior situations, memorizing the roles of these different personas that we prepare to project? Aren’t we all waiting to perform?