CULTURE

Cairo Ballet Company at Lycabettus Theater to help victims of AIDS

As a former soloist and the current choreographer and artistic director of the Cairo Ballet Company, Dr Abdel Moneim Kamel’s mission in life is to promote classical ballet in Egypt. The Cairo Ballet Company has a 40-year history with a troupe of impeccably trained dancers and has traveled extensively around the world presenting works from its vast repertoire – one which includes not only adaptations of classical works but also a number of works inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology. The Cairo Ballet Company makes its debut appearance at the Lycabettus Theater tomorrow – and not as initially announced on August 30. A good cause Tomorrow’s performance includes 35 dancers, impressive set designs and costumes as well as a live orchestra – all offering a bird’s-eye view into the mystical world of Osiris. The production is being held under the auspices of the Consulate of the Ivory Coast, with all proceeds going toward the development of a childcare center in Tanzania. The center’s mission will be to host young victims of AIDS from the around the African continent. A few days before the performance, Dr Abdel Moneim Kamel spoke to Kathimerini. In the performance’s first part, you will be presenting extracts from the ballet «Osiris.» How did you succeed in combining Egyptian myths with the art of classical ballet in your choreographies? «Osiris» is a contemporary ballet based on classical technique. The subject alone influences the movement and the dancer’s expression, while the work’s music by Dr Gamal Abdel-Rahim includes various traditional elements with an emphasis on percussion. As a choreographer, I tried to develop a contemporary approach in order to express the strict mannerism and clarity of the silhouettes in ancient Egyptian sculpture and art. It’s just a different take on tradition. Which elements of ancient Egyptian civilization survive today in Egyptian society? Continuity exists through myths and traditions. Names might change and faces might be transformed but the power of good and evil, death and resurrection, light and darkness, male and female, or even the goddesses of love and fertility are always there. Take the story of Osiris, for example, which has many points in common with a number of Arabic myths. From ‘Aida’ to ‘Zorba’ What else is planned for the evening’s performance? Among others, the second part of the program includes extracts from «Aida,» a work of special importance, considering that Verdi wrote the work specifically for the Cairo Opera in 1870. A series of traditional dances from different regions in Egypt are also on the program, while for the finale we are presenting extracts from Mikis Theodorakis’s «Zorba,» a ballet I first saw in Cairo 10 years ago, conducted by the composer himself. A few year later, I also saw the Greek National Opera’s production. In Egypt, the ballet was particularly successful. Where are the Cairo Opera and the Cairo Ballet Company progressing creatively? The majority of people around the world are not aware of the current situation in Egypt. They forget that our country has a civilization which is equally important to that of Greece and Rome. Both the Opera’s and the Ballet Company’s aim is to show the rest of the world what is going on in Egypt today. When the ballet was founded in 1966, its members were trained by experienced Soviet dancers and its first production was «The Fountain of Bakchisary,» a ballet based on a choreography by Leonid Labrovsky. What is especially important to me now is expressing our own identity. As an artistic director, where do you stand on the subject of contemporary dance’s development? All the new trends are important. I do believe, however, that in order to become a good dancer, one must have sound classical ballet training. The same goes for a painter: A true artist must be aware of the rules of anatomy on the one hand, while he must also study art. A classically trained dancer can do anything.