A fter a successful first edition, the second installment of “2 B Continued, a festival and dance lab organized by Studio Emad Eddin Foundation, returns this week to the American University in Cairo’s Falaki Theater in downtown Cairo.
The first edition spawned three plays by three new directors last January. This week, the studio is showcasing three contemporary dance performances by up-and-coming Egyptian choreographers.
The primary objective of the festival is to pump new blood into the Egyptian theater and dance scene through training a new generation of artists. Nevine El Ibiary, director of workshop programs at Studio Emad Eddin emphasized the importance of the lab. “There are workshops all year round in all fields of performance, she told Daily News Egypt. “Our focus is the process, from idea to performance. We teach the trainees the ‘know-how’ by letting them go through the creative process under the supervision of experts in each field.
The choreographers of this year’s “2 B Continued are all graduates of a two-year dance workshop, designed by Laurence Rondoni through Studio Emad Eddin, in partnership with Association Descent-danse. Fifteen new dancers/choreographers from the Cairo contemporary Dance Workshop Program emerged after two years of intense training with some leading Egyptian and international dancers and choreographers
Three of them were chosen to present their ideas in performance, under the tutelage of Rondoni and Tunisian choreographer Nawal Skandrani, who guided the new choreographers as they took this major step in their career.
Shaymaa Shoukry stages a dance meditation on time and its impact on human life in “Skin Quartet, while the solo piece “Maknoon by Mahmoud Rabeiy (Vito) explores the relationship between man and God, searching for true meaning and divine connection.
Ezzat Ismail’s “Fragile deals with the concept of frustration, particularly young women’s sexual frustration. Ismail believes that the lack of a healthy expression of sexuality causes many ailments. He calls for more awareness of sexual needs, without ignoring traditions. The young choreographer told Daily News Egypt, “Our traditions represent our identity as Egyptians, but there is a point where you need to favor the human beings and their feelings over traditions.
Choreographers are not the only beneficiaries of Studio Emad Eddin’s training programs. The light designers, set designers and stage managers of the three performances also trained with experts in their respective fields. These performances mark the first attempt for most of them.
This is the first time for Mohamed Nabil, one of the trainees in the light workshop under the supervision of light designer Saad Samir. He said that lighting was often ignored in amateur theater performances. “We barely managed to illuminate the stage in the very short window of time we had before the show. Now I understand the importance of lighting. The light design is a process that parallels that of the director, adding depth and meaning to the work. It has to start from the early steps of the creative process.
Amina Ezz El-Arab is originally an actor who was interested in learning more about stage lighting because of her interest in understanding how the big picture is formed. “All elements work together to create one image on stage. Lighting is so integral to the final image of the dance; it acts as another dancer on stage.
Manar Zein El-Abedeen and Amany Fahim are actresses, but opted to learn stage management in a workshop with Alan Wright in preparation for “2 B Continued. They were both surprised at the range of responsibilities of the stage manager, a position whose job description is not identified in most Egyptian theaters. They learned that stage management is the connecting link between actors and directors. Both said that the techniques they acquired in this experience deepened their understanding of the process of production, and will benefit their work in acting and directing.
“2 B Continued is the first product of the laboratory to be shared with an audience. Talents are nurtured and allowed to blossom beyond the festival. The performances that prove to be successful will be given opportunities to have longer runs, and tour nationally and internationally.
This week, Cairo audiences can judge the success of this experiment that offers young talents a place in the spotlight.
“2 B Continued runs on Dec. 17, 18 and 19 at 8 pm. The Falaki Theater of The American University in Cairo, Falaki Street, downtown Cairo. Tel: (02)2576 3875, (02)2576 3850