The screen showed a scene that could only be described as absurd. A crowded street in Ramallah with a traffic officer who dances at cars. Yes, dances. As the audience ponders how the good people of Ramallah appeared so nonchalant about having a dancer staging a public performance in one of their more crowded streets, while undoubtedly having countless other pressing issues to deal with, the film ends and it is revealed that the dancer is in fact not a dancer at all. He is a famous traffic officer in Ramallah who has a daily routine, well-known to the troubled citizens of the ever-shrinking Palestinian territories.
This how the last film of the Les Instants Videos screening ended. The screenings were part of the TransDance festival, taking place in multiple cities around the world, including Cairo, Marseille and New York. The films were picked by producer Marc Mercier with an emphasis on documenting dance and bodies as physical documents on screen. The screenings attracted an eclectic audience unlike any that has turned up for other TransDance events so far.
“The dancer in this video is not a dancer at all, he is actually a traffic officer from Ramallah whom Mercier wanted to collaborate with for a long time and finally they produced this short we have just seen,” said Adham Hafez, the artistic director of the festival.
The TransDance festival continues to provide fresh and innovative events as part of its programme, from bringing never-before-seen performances to Cairo that changed contemporary performance forever, to featuring experimental performances that were put together spontaneously and organically. The festival has brought dance and performance, two much-neglected art forms to the forefront, putting an emphasis on using local artists and staging performances across more cities than the capital, Cairo.
The festival has so far featured dance and performance as its name suggests, but has also featured film screenings, painting, and audio and visual installations, giving its audience a diverse selection across different mediums and art forms.
Hafez said he was pleased with how the festival turned out and that he at one point even thought to himself, “I cannot believe we are in Cairo”. Despite the bureaucratic hurdles and a lack of mainstream interest in the art Hafez promotes, the festival has laid down a solid base on which future similar events can be founded and where the interest of the general public can be developed further.
“When we premiered ‘Silent Solos’ we had a packed venue and by the end of it, some people were actually in tears because the performance was heartfelt and genuine. It was about the post-revolutionary period, if we can call it that, that is taking place now in Egypt,” said Hafez
The festival will end today with a free improvisation night at the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center, which will include open talks and discussions with the artists about their performances, and as the whole festival the evening will be free of charge.