I am just back from my two week 'holiday' in Cairo and am exhausted!
The reason for this particular trip- I'm one of the regular teachers at the Nile group festival. I unfortunately didn't make the entire week since I'd been invited to be the star guests at Shona Hagan's Torquay summer spa weekender. That was an amazing weekend with lots of fabulous fun woman and I laughed even more than I danced!
It was frustrating to miss the lions share of the Nile Group festival, but I cannot deny that it is also lovely to be in such demand!
So Nile group closing gala was an amazing and entertaining night. I loved seeing so many people back in Cairo again, past festival have been a little quiet due to various reasons, but it seems the dance tourists at least are not to be put off any longer and there was a good turn out.
Almaz was the first dancer, and her costumes lived up to her name! Almaz means diamonds in Arabic. She put on a very powerful and impressive show and I really felt for her because sadly, very few of the audience members arrived early enough to see her show. I wish people, especially those who are dancers themselves, would appreciate and show respect for other performers by at least turning up on time! Despite the fact that she is a dancer from Japan, her time spent in Egypt has paid dividends, she really did look Egyptian on stage.
Next up was another foreigner who has spent quite a few years now in Egypt, Vanessa. She is American and has worked mainly in Sharm el sheik until this past year where Cairo has molded her into the star dance she has become. In the sexiest Saidi galabeya I've ever seen, she performed a unique and exciting saidi dance which had every eye in the place glued to her. Her shaabi had everyone jumping too! I recommend you try to catch her show next time you're in Cairo!
Then we had our token Egyptian for evening. Sadly, I felt she let the side down. She seemed to think that her super large assets (recently augmented) and her super small costumes would stand in for decent dancing. I'm intentionally not writing her name here, perhaps she just had a bad night and I wouldn't want that held against her forever... I saw her dance last year and thought she was pretty good, so I am hoping it was just an off night for her. We all have them. It was just a little embarrassing and sums up a lot of the recent changes in the bellydance scene in Cairo. Too much about the show and not enough quality. In my humble opinion.
The final dancer of the night was the ever beautiful Mercedes. It's true that her style is her own, and she seemed less Egyptian than usual on that night. But she knows how to perform beautifully, and it was a joy watching her interact with her Tabal, although there were times I wanted to shake him as much as I could tell she did!!!!!!!
To end the gala show we had a shaabi singer, with a full entourage of performing monkeys. I'm not being facetious here, there literally was a man dancing in a full gorilla suit! That was a first for me!!!! Plus a tannoura, pantomime horse, clowns and saidi dancers! It was quite a show!!
Throughout the entire night I had the pleasure of sitting next to the fabulous Egyptian dancer Dalida and her absolute gentleman of a husband. They did so much to restore some of my fading faith in humanity! We had great conversations about all sorts of things, but mainly about why we dance and how we see our future within dance. It was great to have that conversation with someone who completely understood!
The next morning I had to be up early to teach my class ... So I didn't stay to see the very end of the party but 3am was late enough for me anyway after having traveling the night before!
.... And that and it was still only my first day in Cairo!