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Uncensored Performances at Gouna's First Women's Art Festival

Women by the Sea is concluding a week of bold exhibits and performances by artists like Dina El Wedidi and Tamara Altmann and many more.

Fearless performances and bold exhibits by women are not an everyday sight in Egypt. Not in major urban centres at least. Setting out to defy a self-censored culture and put female talent in the spotlight is the Women by the Sea art festival which gathered established and up-and-coming female performers, art wizards and powerful singers, in the Red Sea town of El Gouna this past week. 

The festival, which is running its second edition, is closing on Saturday at 4:30 at El Gouna's hottest spot Aurora, where Brazilian-German dancer, performer and skater Tereza Dos Santos Costa will showcase an experimental piano-clarinet-dance fusion. "It’s the first time I do such a thing," says the artist, a resident Gounie who has just concluded an international career at Disney on Ice. "There will be a storyline where everything is incorporated; I begin playing the piano and those sounds will be recorded, so that I will add clarinet and then a choreography," she explains. "Personally, it’s very interesting because usually as an artist, I do one thing at a time, so this is the first event giving me a chance to express myself and everything that comes to mind. You can also see this kind of thing with abstract art as well", she points out.  

Tamara Altmann and Dina El Wedidi performed together at this season's edition. 

Founded by Sarah El Sawi, the non-profit festival - this year called 'Rebirth' - aims to celebrate female creativity and shed a light on the stories of women who live by the sea, combining visual arts, performances, music, art installations, video, photography and writing, both by professional and amateur artists. “It’s very powerful for women to have a platform to completely express their art, no matter how abstract or provocative it is. Especially in Egypt," Costa explains. This edition, the second one since its launch in 2014, featured a wide range of creativity, from Dina El Wedidi's enchanting songs, to a music installation by Tamara Altmann, visual art by Alexia Schouten, Rasha Amin and Sarah El Sawi, and a handmade fashion collection by Nadine Chamaa.

Nadine Chamaa's handmade fashion collection was also part of the exhibition in Aurora.

"Gouna's art scene is growing rapidly now," says Costa. "There are more and more artists coming to Gouna because they can express anything without having the fear of being suppressed, or frowned upon by society. I am surprised myself at how many artists are popping up, there are international instructors coming too because they get inspired by the environment and lack of restrictions." 

Photography by Lamia Khalifa.

Find out more on the festival's Facebook 'Women by the Sea: Rebirth'