Ballet can now be counted amongst the artistic disciplines touched by Egypt’s recent revolution. The January 25 Revolution has prompted a wave of cultural production, much of it inspired by scenes and experiences from the lead up to Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on February 11.
“The Pyramids and the Revolution,” a ballet adapted from famed French choreographer Maurice Bejart’s “Pyramide,” is running this week at the Cairo Opera House. The Cairo Opera Ballet Company performance was adapted by Abdel Moneim and Erminia Kamel, with music arrangement by Tarek Sharara.
The decision to adapt Bejart’s “Pyramide” into an epic ode to the January 25 Revolution is apt given the production’s history: the original disastrous attempt to stage the production at the base of the Pyramids back in 1990 was an event that epitomized Egypt’s rampant corruption and inability to capitalize on its potential.
The production, which was set to be a groundbreaking cultural event and attract thousands of tourists into Egypt, was brought down by the shameless demands of Egyptian officials for hundreds of thousands of dollars in “royalties,” “taxes” and other euphemisms for blatant graft. After struggling to bring the event to light through official channels, the event promoter, Michel Reculez, was eventually forced to return home to Belgium and declare bankruptcy, and “Pyramide” was eventually staged at the Cairo Opera House instead of the Pyramids plateau.
Needless to say, the show was a shadow of what Bejart had originally envisioned. Luckily, Bejart is not alive today to see a different, but no less potent type of corruption—artistic—soil his masterpiece. Where “Pyramide” was an inspired and subtle ode to Egypt’s glorious and complex history and the resilience of its people, “The Pyramids and the Revolution” is an unsophisticated work of nationalistic pageantry.
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