The Dance Collective is every Egyptian dancer's dream store.
Taking up a hobby in Egypt can sometimes be a hassle, mainly because there hasn't been a vast sea of options up until recently. However, once we've finally settled on a hobby and set our hearts on becoming, say a professional ballerinas, we're faced with another obstacle; that is whether or not we'll be able to find the suitable gear for our chosen activity. Forced to rely on online stores or friends coming abroad, we end up realizing that keeping up with the hobby in the ascension to our black swan moment is both too costly and too much of a hassle. So we end up giving up our dream and watching our future in ballet or salsa going down the drain. Well, good news ballerinas, salsa dancers and all the in-betweeners of Cairo, you no longer need to weep at what could've been. The Dance collective is here to be the wind beneath your wings or the tutu to your leotard, if you will. The dancer store which has just opened shop, is a comprehensive space offering up all the necessary tutus, tongs and dance attires you may require in pursuit of the art of dance.
The Dance Collective was founded in 2018 by medicine student and avid dancer, Rihan Adel Soliman. Having danced ballet, modern jazz, hip hop, tango, contemporary and pole among other things, the young dancer struggled in finding the necessary gear to continue pursuing her chosen art form.
"Dance shoes aren’t like other shoes. You have to make sure they fit exactly and work with your style of dance and go with your arches otherwise you could get hurt and it's uncomfortable," explains Soliman of what sparked the idea of her store. "The idea came to me when my sister got me these dancing shoes that ended up being the wrong size. I put them up for sale and they got sold in like two days. That's when I thought there might be a market for it."While the Dance Collective started off with a Facebook page with the fittings for the shoes taking place in Soliman's living room or at the dance studio where she practiced, the medecine major saw a window of opportunity and opened up her own store.
"It's an art and a sport everywhere else in the world. And just like football is a sport and you ned the required gear to train, it's the same for dance," says Soliman. " We sell everything from dance shoes, to leotards. We also have all equipment preventing dancers from getting injuries and blisters like foot thongs. To improve flexibility and arch movement, we sell flexibility bands and arch supports."
Dancing is not merely a sport but it's also one of the most liberating forms of expression (as cliche as it may sound) and in some culture it is a form of socializing.
"I lose myself in a dance class, I think of nothing except that moment. It's a language. In some cultures, they socialize through dance, like the latin countries. I thing there's something very honest about it because there's no restraint. I say, more people should get into dancing!" exclaims the dancer.
Aiming to provide Cairene dancers with a sustainable product so they wouldn't have to keep going back and forth, Soliman wants to provide her clientele with all dancing accessories under one roof. That being said, while the availability of these products may not affect whether or not someone will take up a certain dance form, they are a deciding factors in whether the dancer will continue down that path and improve within the field or not. "People don’t specificcally need their gear before they start. But at some point they stop when they don’t have it. It's important because they need to improve their level rather than stay at the same point only because they don't have the right gear," concludes Soliman.
While it might be too late for us to become ballerinas or contemporary dancers (much to our dismay), it's not too late for the rest of you.