“Bringing Cairo’s dance and photography communities together…” is how the Ballerinas of Cairo defines its Instagram account. The BBC, however, thinks it’s more than that:
The Ballerinas of Cairo are refusing to be intimidated by the recent terrorist attacks that shook the Egyptian capital. Instead, they’re taking to the streets.
saying that its aim is to “reclaim the streets for women”.
Whatever, it is starting to have an effect as news services are picking up on what they are doing. We are used to such photos, (even bored with such photos), from the subways of Manhattan and the streets of London, but even in cosmopolitan Cairo a woman displaying a little leg can be frowned upon. Gamal Hamed, of the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, has proclaimed,
[Ballet] is the art of nudity, spreading immorality and obscenity among people.
The fifth Egyptian President, Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, who was removed from office after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, once said that dance “violates Sharia (Islamic) law”.
Amateur photographers Mohamed Taher and Ahmed Fathy started posting in January 2016. Taher told Egypt Independent,
The idea already existed in many countries, which inspired me to try it in Egypt — especially Cairo, so I decided to launch the project here, to let people explore the beauty of Cairo from a different perspective.
The three ballerinas featured in all the photos on Instagram are dancers from the Cairo Opera House: Mariam El Gebali, Nour ElGazzar and Passant Abu Basha.
“Never judge a dancer until you’ve walked a mile in her pointe shoes” We’re very excited to post this photograph capturing the stunning ballerina @yasmineshahir in old Cairo by the photographer @mohamedtaher Follow @ballerinasofcairo and tag #ballerinasofcairo for more dancing photographs around the city of Cairo
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.
I would imagine these dancers are risking their lives in their campaign. I wish them safety and success.