6 Extraordinary Egyptian Dancers Tell Us Their Inspiring Stories
In this exclusive CairoScene photo shoot, we capture six beautiful Egyptian dancers as they take flight in Geox shoes, and share their inspiring stories...
Dancing has always been integral to Egyptians; we dance our way through life – birthdays, weddings, football matches, revolutions...the list goes on. Some of us dance alone in our rooms, some of us dance among others in a studio. We're dancers by instinct.
And yet the art form has not always flourished in Egypt; it is often considered a frivolous pursuit; looked down upon. But some have ignored this and danced their way through life anyway. Choosing to pursue the art, they've spun pirouettes in ballet, moulded their bodies for contemporary dance, or defied gravity with break-dancing. We met up with 6 of these extraordinary professional dancers in Egypt from Adams Dance Studio, all of them decked out in sleek Geox footwear, to hear about their stories with the art form, and watch them in action.
Sara Gabr, Contemporary
I started as a ballet dancer at 7 years old. I am 27 now, so, 20 years of dancing! I studied in the ballet institute, and performed in the opera. But, eventually, I got into contemporary dancing. A lot of people in Egypt don’t quite understand it – when you do a dance, they think it’s strange, and then they sometimes ask, “Is this supposed to be you in love, or heartbroken?” It’s not about that. For me, ballet had a lot of rules, but contemporary dancing is all about self-expression – it’s freedom. You can wear whatever you like. Actually, I like wearing heels when I dance! So, when I wore Geox’s, they were actually pleasant, and when I danced in them, it just felt natural and I was able to exhibit that. I think the great thing is, we’re finally getting more attention through various companies and schools supporting this form of dance. But, we still need more exposure in terms of being able to do street performances. We hope that’ll come soon.
May Adam, Commercial
At 5 years old, I started out as a ballerina. Today, at 26, I do commercial dancing, and I am the founder of Adams Studio. Commercial is not a dance you'd find a lot here. It's a form of Hip Hop, and it's sexy and it carries so much eloquence – your hands, your face, your whole body is saying something.
The dance scene in general in Egypt lacks diversity. You wouldn't find an abundance of styles being practiced or taught, unlike abroad, where you'll find a lot of dance schools for all types, and they're more open to the different styles. But, the good thing is that commercial is definitely starting to emerge more, and as an instructor I see that – more people are becoming interested in it and they're educating themselves about it, and pursuing it.
To do commercial, you have to be able to do a lot of pop and lock and the ability to move freely – that's why it's nice to wear something that enables these moves. I usually love wearing heels when I'm dancing – but Geox’s sneakers were awesome and smooth to dance in.
Ziad Ali, Hip Hop
Since I was 14, I started watching videos and I was intrigued by this form of dancing – it just felt relevant to me. Slowly, I started learning, and then, I realised I wanted to pursue it, and perfect it. Since I started, the scene has improved, but it still doesn’t gain a lot of attention, though people here enjoy it – people from different social classes see hip hop differently. It’s a form of dance that originated in the streets, so it’s disappointing that there isn’t a lot of support. Most of the audience, who are keen on following it, are Hip Hop dancers themselves – so, more exposure is needed and it’s a dance that should be widely shared with everyone, not just those who already know about it. I initially pursued it because it was close to my personality; I am quite a hyper person. To move around like you do while dancing Hip Hop, your feet need to be on point, and Geox’s were light, and ample. It felt good to be honest!
Ahmed 'Heat' Elshamy, Breakdancing
It started with watching videos, then practicing, getting out and sharing knowledge about the art, and then being in a crew. It’s actually the most prevalent form of Hip Hop in Egypt. We have up to 800 breakers around the country, but it is not sponsored as it should be. Granted, every year we have Redbull putting on a huge competition and it really helps us get our knowledge out there, because we do need the local exposure more than ever. We also need influencers and representatives in the field, which is a point any breaker should reach in order for the art to live on.
Breakdancing stemmed from neighbourhoods facing oppression, and with time it became more commercial – but that goes to show anyone how it is a form of art that teaches you adaptation. I think that’s why when Geox gave me dress shoes, which is not what I usually wear, I just started dancing in them – and they were easy to adapt to!
Nina Kabbani, Yoga
I have been practicing yoga for six years now, and have been an instructor of it for the past three years – I actually just came back from teaching in Thailand. I used to be a marketing manager, actually, for Nike. Yes, totally different from what I do now. But, once I got into yoga, I loved it. It satisfied me in every way possible – mentally, emotionally, and physically. When I started, it wasn't a trend, but now it's becoming one in Egypt; it’s booming, and it's good to see a lot of people into it. The only thing that concerns me, though, is that many people do not understand that yoga is a lifestyle, and it has a philosophy behind it, so, not anyone can just start teaching it. That’s actually quite dangerous because there are a lot of moves and techniques – and that’s why you have to dress comfortably in order to be able to move freely; I wear the comfiest things ever: yoga pants! Also, tank tops. As for the feet, we do yoga barefoot. When Geox gave me heels I was like, “How?” then I realised they’re super comfortable.
Roshan Elshormolessy, Ballet
I started dancing when I was four years old, through Nadi El Shams Ballet Company, and the Cairo Opera House Talents Development Center, and today, I am an instructor.
There are a few misconceptions about ballet in Egypt – one is that you need to be really young - which is preferred but not necessary. I taught a young woman who was 24 when she decided to pursue ballet. Another is that ballet is associated with social class – and it's not, you just need to have the passion for it. When I joined Ballerinas of Cairo, my message was that we need to teach the art across the country, like in Upper Egypt, for example. Ballet is an art anyone with a will can do, and so when I teach the younger kids, I always like wearing my one piece suit, with the chiffon skirt; it's my way of engaging them and being a role model to them.
In the studio, we use a substance to make the floor less slippery while wearing ballerina shoes; but with Geox, let me tell you, I actually did the pirouette, which is a difficult move, three times in the air because the sneakers made me more stable. I also did another move called sauté, about 16 times, because they really helped me stick to the ground!
Shoot by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions
Photography by Lobna Derbala
Videography by Anoub Ramsis
Video Editing by Mohamed Shahin
Styling by Ahmed Nabil
All footwear provided by Geox
Shot on location at Adams Dance Studio